Persecuted Indian Christians Appeal For Help At Gathering

Monday, June 25, 2007 | Tag Cloud

By BosNewsLife News Center

NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife) -- Christians across India on Sunday, June 24, attended church services Sunday, June 24, following what organizers described as the "largest gathering of victims of religious persecution" in recent years.

Christian victims of persecution and five widows of persons "martyred for their Christian faith" gathered Friday, June 22, in the Indian city of Bangalore to protest the "great increase in attacks against the Christian community in India," said the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) which investigates persecution of Christians.

In a statement to BosNewsLife, the advocacy group added it had documented 329 cases of persecution in the past 15 months.

At Friday's meeting, participants shared "their grief and agony" about the mistreatment they allegedly suffered at the hands of violent mobs, including Hindu militants, organizers said.

SURVIVORS SPEAK

Survivors of the reported attacks recalled how their homes were raided homes and their churches destroyed with "total disregard for law or any respect for human or constitutional rights," added the GCIC.

Participants at Friday's meeting accepted a 'Memorandum to the President of India' requesting "an independent enquiry into the country-wide incidence of violence against Christians by sections of Indian society," said the GCIC.

They also urged Indian President A P J Abdul Kalam "to repeal the 1950 Presidential Order which abrogated some of the Constitutional Rights of Christians of Dalit descent by withdrawing" their "education and employment," awarded to other groups.

Dalits are seen as the lowest caste in India's ancient system of Hinduism, but Christianity has been spreading rapidly among the up to 300-million strong Dalit population, rights groups say. There are up to 20 million Dalit Christians, according to rights watchers' estimates.

ACTIVE COMMUNITY

GCIC President Sajan George said that although Christians comprise less than three percent of the country's population they contributed to improve literacy, education and health care "in areas where no one would" including helping people suffering of Leprosy.

Christians are active in "remote tribal pockets, and among the poorest of the poor," yet they have remained the target "for the worst violence" including "killings, public humiliation, destruction of churches and prayer halls, and being exiled from villages," he complained.

"What crimes have they committed to get this kind of treatment? And instead of getting justice, police often charge the victims and put them in jail," he added. GCIC investigators also say that in many cases bail has been denied to Christians by magistrates.

"They are jailed on false charges. Murders are not investigated for years," George claimed. Ruth Manorama, a well-known human rights activist, said the situation of violence against Christians in India "was very grave". If there was no improvement, "Christians would be forced to internationalize the issue by raising it at United Nations institutions," Manorama said in published comments. (With BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos and BosNewsLife Research).

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