§ 1. Mr. David Atkinson
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he has had any recent discussions with the Nepalese Government about matters raised during his visit to Nepal in February; and if he will make a statement.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Tim Eggar)
My right hon. and learned Friend has had no recent discussions with the Nepalese Government.
§ Mr. Atkinson
Does my hon. Friend share my dismay over the fact that since our right hon. and learned Friend met his Nepalese counterpart in Nepal in February there have been further reports of the persecution of Christians, including the most humiliating and inhuman treatment of two Catholic nuns? In view of this, will my hon. Friend now warn the Nepalese Government that it cannot be long before public opinion in this country, and in the United States in particular, will be pressing to end all aid to Nepal until such time as the persecution of Christian citizens comes to an end?
§ Mr. Eggar
We are aware of reports of the incident to which my hon. Friend refers and we are seeking further details. As he is aware, we share his concern about the reports of ill-treatment of Christians in Nepal. My right hon. and learned Friend mentioned our concern to the Nepalese Government during this visit in February.
§ Mr. Alton
Given that those nuns and priests were dragged through the streets, beaten, and, in the case of the nuns, stripped naked by Nepalese policemen, does the Minister agree that it is about time that Her Majesty's Government stopped turning a blind eye and took up with the Nepalese Government this grave issue of the violation of human rights?
§ Mr. Eggar
As I have already said to my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, East (Mr. Atkinson), we are seeking further details of the incident to which the hon. Gentleman refers. I remind him that Nepal is a sovereign independent country, and we have no locus standi to intervene on behalf of Nepalese citizens.