Sr. Jessy takes up Sr. Valsa case with NCW

November 26, 2011 by  
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CSF General Secretary Joseph Dias and Sr. Jessy Kurian in Delhi

CSF General Secretary Joseph Dias and Sr. Jessy Kurian in Delhi

New Delhi, November 25, 2011: The Citizen’s Rights Trust founder-president Adv. Sr. Jessy Kurian filed a complaint with the National Commission for Women to get speedy justice to Sr. Valsa John on 24th November, 2011. She led a delegation and met Ms. Mamtha Sharma, the chairperson. The Registration No is 8/14403/2011/NCW/CW/AV and one can enquire into the status quoting this reference. The Supreme Court advocate, Sr. Jessy Kurian is a former Member of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions.

The delegation also demanded a CBI probe into the incident. As a result, the Commission has already constituted a Committee to investigate into the matter headed by Justice Lodi, Vinod Sharma IPS, Dr. Hemalatha, chairperson, Jharkhand women commission and the member secretary of the NCW. The memorandum presented in brief describes the situation as below:

Sister Valsa John belonged to a Religious Society called “Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary”. She had been rendering selfless service to the displaced people especially women, children and the poorest of the poor in a remote village in Pakkur District for last about 9 years. These innocent poor people were displaced by ‘Panem Coal Mines Pvt Ltd Company’. Sr. Valsa stood to bring justice to these displaced people till her last day.

Facts of the case:
On the night of 15th November 2011, a crowd of about 50 people, armed with traditional weapons came at around 10.30pm and surrounded the house. First they tied few youth who were present in the premises. Then they entered the house and dragged Mr. Sonaram Hembron, the owner of the house and threatened to kill him if he did not hand over Sr. Valsa to them. Saying so, they thrashed him and barged into the house and entered the room where Sr. Valsa was sleeping. They mercilessly pulled her out, and attacked her from all sides and killed her. Thereafter the crowd fled the place. 

According to the eye witnesses, the killers were associated with the PANEM Coal Mines Ltd. It is to be noted that prior to this killing, in Panchuwara several villagers namely Vijay Membrom, Joseph Soren, Raghuvir Ray, were killed as they were with the people protesting and later their death was dumped as mere accidents.

Developments that led to her murder/ in her activities:
Since early 2000s, the Panem Coal Mines Pvt Ltd a project of Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) and Eastern Minerals and Trading Agency (EMTA) from West Bengal, had been trying to acquire land for mining operations in the coal reserves of Pachwara and 32 other surrounding villages. The 52 year –old Sr. Valsa John, who had been staying in Pachwara since 1998, tried to help the people organize themselves against the coal mining company acquiring the land of the villagers. In order to defend their rights over their land and resources, the Santhal Adivasi Community formed an organization called Rajmahal Pahar bachao Andolan. Sister Valsa, along with other social activists like Majhi Haddam, the traditional administrative Headman of the Santhal tribe, worked to organize the Community and she was in the forefront of the protest that was building against the exploitation by the Panem Coal Company.

However the displaced poor people failed to get justice from all corners including High Court and Supreme Court. Moreover they were harassed by the Company, police and the administration to withdraw their protest. When they could not withstand such harassments they were forced to make an agreement (MoU) with the company at last. Sister Valsa had a decisive role in formulating this agreement and making the company to accept it. The MoU Monitoring Committee (MC) consisted of two representatives from each village, three from the movement, three from the traditional leadership and three from the Company itself. Thus the Committee (MC) was consisted   only of the Project affected persons and the Company and no one from administrative and political side. 

Though the MoU was signed in 2006, the Company did not do justice to the people as per the MoU. That led to tension mounting and the protest continued in the area under the leadership of Sr. Valsa. She tried her best to bring justice to the displaced people as per MoU. Along with the people she demanded the implementation of MoU. She urged the Company to establish schools for the displaced children for their education as per MoU. She demanded compensations like alternative agricultural lands, employment to local youths and proper drinking water etc.

She was under constant threat from PNEM Company:
Sr. Valsa had been under constant threat from PANEM Company and she shared this with her family members too. The Superintendent of Police has confirmed that she had filed an FIR three years ago where she reported that she was facing threats. It is unfortunate that despite her complaint the police did not take any action either to launch an investigation or to provide her protection.  It is to be noted that even hours before her death, she mentioned to her family about threat to her life from the PNEM Coal mafia.

Aftermath developments:
After such a brutal murder, the police is trying to miss lead the nation by diverting the attention of the citizens to unimportant matters. The police, State and some sections of national media are trying to pass the blame on Sr. Valsa, a Human Right Activist who stood till her death to bring justice to the people.  From all these it is deemed that the police is trying to protect the PANEM Coal Mine mafia and to make the victim the accused. There seems to be an effort on the part of the police to side-track the main culprit PANEM Coal Mine and focus on a rape case of one of Valsa’s co-workers which she was taking up and was to meet the SP/DC on the 16th November, 2011.

It is condemnable that the local administration is currently attempting to suppress the truth by intimidating the villagers and anti-displacement activists.

It is a matter of national shame that the pervasive nexus between powerful mining companies and the State machinery has cost the precious life of a woman a Human Right Activist like Sr. Valsa John.

 Her patriotism and contribution to the nation was evident that Sr. Valsa was running a school for Adivasi children in Amrapara to produce good citizens for the nation. She was also a herbal medicine practitioner which took care of the health of the poor tribals in absence of the state-established Health Centres.

Such brutal murder is very animalic and against human rights. It is against a woman’s right to live with human dignity. It is against a woman’s right to work in a condusive atmosphere. A woman has all rights to stand for justice and to work for the development of the citizens of this nation.

However the police suspect Maoist behind the murder. We are very slow to believe the versions of Police and the State authorities about the cause of her death and the accused in the murder. We have right to know the real culprits. When more than 50 people were involved in the brutal action, the police could have arrested at least one.

Though the incident took place on the evening of 15th November, 2011, the authorities concerned have not made any arrest to this effect in order to prove the cause of her death till date.

Persecution cannot deter Church: Cardinal *Church leaders pledge to work for development

November 25, 2011 by  
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Sister ValsaKerala, November 24, 2011: Cardinal Oswald Gracias has said that no amount of persecution or even death can deter the Catholic Church from its commitment to uphold the values of love, justice and peace.

The cardinal, who is also the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, said this while paying tributes to Sr. Valsa John, who was hacked to death in Jharkhand last week.

“I would like to take this opportunity to make it abundantly clear that no amount of persecution or even death can deter us from our commitment to the gospel values of love, justice and peace,” he said.

The Catholic Church in India is committed to the well-being of the country and the welfare of its people regardless of caste, creed, gender, language, age or region, he said.

“We are always in the front line in the defence, uplift and the empowerment of the downtrodden and the marginalised even to the point of martyrdom. The latest example is Valsa John and her supreme sacrifice. I bow my head to the memory of this brave daughter of Kerala.” the cardinal said.

– ibnlive

Church leaders pledge to work for development

 

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of IndiaKerala, November 24, 2011: Church leaders vowed today to work for a more progressive and vibrant India.

“We have to work toward lifting up the downtrodden [dalits, tribals and the poor] for the nation’s development,” said Cardinal Oswald Gracias in his opening address to the 11th general session of Catholic Council of India (CCI) in Kerala.

Cardinal Gracias, who is also president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and archbishop of Mumbai, said “there can be no progress without peace and without justice and forgiveness there can be no peace.”

Noting that one of the major hurdles to development is corruption, he appealed for the eradication of the “scourge” from society.

Church’s Role for a Better India is the theme of the four-day meeting which began today in Kochi, the southern state’s commercial hub.

Major Archbishop George Alencherry, head of the Syro Malabar Church, said globalization and consumerism have widened the gap between rich and poor.

“The poor and the dalits are exploited and unless we address this issue, the country cannot progress,” he told the 150-strong gathering of bishops, priests, nuns and laity.

He appealed for the Church to build bridges with other faiths in order to help speed up efforts for development and progress.

During the four-day meeting, CCI members will share their experiences, reflections and suggestions on vital Church and national issues and decide on common action in which to carry out Christ’s mission.

The biennial meeting comes ahead of the General Body Meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, which this year has the same theme.

– ucan

Lawyers barred from representing arrested pastor

November 25, 2011 by  
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All Saints Church, KashmirJammu and Kashmir, November 24, 2011: Lawyers in Kashmir valley have been allegedly debarred by the bar association from representing the case of a pastor, who was arrested on charges of proselytization.

Pastor C.M. Khanna of the All India Saints Church in the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir was arrested November 19 on charges of forcibly converting 10 Muslim youth to Christianity.

“The bar association has threatened to debar the lawyers from practice if they represented pastor Khanna’s case,” Church of North India (CNI) Bishop Pradeep Kumar Samantaroy of Amritsar told ucanews.com yesterday.

He said “we have arranged for a lawyer from the Jammu region and are planning to file his bail application today.”

Meanwhile, a three-member delegation yesterday met Federal Minister of State for Home Affairs Mullapally Ramachandran in this regard.

General Secretary of CNI synod Alwyn Masih, who was part of the delegation, told ucanews.com that “we have demanded government’s immediate intervention for the release of the pastor and protection of churches and Christians in the state,” Masih told ucanews.com.

He said the minister claimed the issue was “very sensitive in nature,” but said that he will look into the matter.

Masih said that he has also written to President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and state Chief Minister Omar Abdullah about the issue.

“The issue is beyond the arrest of the pastor as the Special Investigation Team has asked for records of all the Christian institutions in Srinagar,” he added.

Roger Gaekwad and Advocate Koshy of the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) were the other members of the delegation.

The pastor was held after a video showed him converting a group of Muslim youth and booked for disturbing peace and hurting people’s religious sentiments.

Maintaining that the allegations against the pastor are concocted and framed, Bishop Samantroy said “the youth were baptized but they were not forced to convert.”

He said that “these youth have been coming to the church for more than a year and I myself had seen them in the church.”

The prelate said that they are trying to meet the chief minister on the issue.

– ritu sharma

Prelate wary of new Christian body

November 25, 2011 by  
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Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore

Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore

Karnataka, November 23, 2011: The Karnataka government has come under fire from Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore over the composition of a newly established state Christian Development Council.

The pro-Hindu Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP) set up the body recently to try to appease Christians in the southern state who still feel aggrieved at attacks on them in 2008.

“This is an honest gesture on behalf of the state government that realizes the gravity of hurt the Christian community felt post-September 2008, when misguided people attacked Christian churches and institutions,” said Franklyn Monteiro, vice-president of the BJP state Minority Morcha (forum) and a member of the council.

The new Christian Development Council (CDC), headed by Chief Minister DV Sadananda Gowda, will have an annual budget of 500 million rupees (US$9.5 million).

The money will be earmarked for church buildings, social welfare and educational purposes.

However, Archbishop Moras has criticized the council’s composition.

He said the chief minister had written to him suggesting members for the CDC but ignored his own recommendations.

The bishop’s concern is that the council will have too many BJP members.

“This is an attempt by the government to fool Christians,” he said.

The prelate said he will clarify whether there are any more additions to be made and then take up the matter with the chief minister, and also remind him of his promise to withdraw cases brought against “innocent” Christian youths who protested against the 2008 attacks.

V . Acharya, state higher education minister, admitted the ruling party has appointed people within its ranks as council members, but tried to appease the archbishop by saying that these people are Christians.

“It would happen with any other party as well. But being Christians, they will work for the Christian community,” he said.

The CDC will meet bi-monthly, examine suggestions by the state Minority Commission and draw up plans for the development of Christians in Karnataka, Acharya said.

– francis rodrigues

Scholarships from Bethel Medical Mission Group of Nursing Sciences, Bangalore

November 25, 2011 by  
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Bethel Medical Services, BangaloreKarnataka, November 24, 2011: Since 1997, Bethel Medical Services has been serving the Lord through helping Society. Also since 2006 by the grace of God it has sponsored many students & they have completed their Nursing course, presently working & serving the Lord all over the World.

If a candidate scored above 70% in +2, a 50% sponsorship is available for the total expense of the Course.

Every Sunday, a Protestant & Catholic Priest conducts prayer on the college Campus for their spiritual growth. Many have accepted Jesus as their Lord & are leading a holy life.

Admissions have started for: MPT, BPT, MSc, BSc, PCBSc Nursing, BSc OT, BSc Radiology.

If some one needs a sponsorship you may contact –

Prof. Rev. Dr. Sunny Daniel, Founder President of Bethel Medical Group of Institutions.
http://www.bethelmedicalservices.org/

– prof. rev. dr. sunny daniel

Beijing Shouwang Church Announcement on Nov 20th Outdoor Worship Service – Week 33

November 25, 2011 by  
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Beijing Shouwang Church AnnouncementsChina, November 22, 2011: Dear brothers and sisters, Peace in the Lord! On Nov 20th, Shouwang had her thirty-third Sunday outdoor worship service. In the past week, many believers were detained at home since Saturday. On Friday night, police from Datun police station took a sister to a hotel for detention. As far as we know, at least twenty-six believers were taken away on Sunday morning for going to the planned location to join the outdoor service, either at the spot or on their way there (including three sisters from Xinshu Church). And they were sent to ten local police stations of their respective area. Till midnight, only eleven believers were released home, and the other sixteen believers were still detained in four different police stations (mainly in three police stations in Haidian district). The last five believers, who were detained at Zhongguancun Street police station and Zhongguancun police station, were not released until 10:00am on the 22nd, after forty-eight hours detention.

It is winter now, and the weather in Beijing is getting colder; the temperature can drop to zero at night. But the cold weather is not able to prevent believers from going out to join the outdoor service; there are even more believers who never went before now joined the outdoor worship. Knowing that they might face longer detention as each police station put more force into it last week, our brothers and sisters proceeded to the outdoor service with no hesitation, and faced policemen with peace. Those who waited outside police stations showed their deep love for other members in the body, which is a good witness for the Lord. At 11:00pm on Sunday night, outside Haidian police station alone, there were more than ten believers waiting with joy, which was a great comfort to believers who were detained inside.

We thank our Lord for these good witnesses. The Lord grants believers faith and courage to follow him, and he raises up believers—we hope that he will raise up more believers—to shine for him together. God forgives our sin, shows mercy to us when we are weak, strengthens us when we are weary; he continues to be with Shouwang Church for his name’s sake, and uses his church to shine for him in this generation. “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you…but the LORD rises upon you, and his glory appears over you.” (Isaiah 60:1-2) We believe that being his church, as long as we wait for him in perseverance and seek his guidance with all our heart, his glory will rise upon his church. And we will shine for him in this generation with this glory, and we won’t be ashamed because of this glory. Let us continue to pray before God fervently: may he open a way for us so that we will witness his glory.

May peace and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the mercy and love of Father God, and the console and guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, be with each brother and sister of Shouwang Church and all the churches who remember Shouwang Church in prayers, from this time on and forevermore! Amen.

– chinaaid

What’s to become of Mideast Christians?

November 25, 2011 by  
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Syria’s Christians fear President Bashar al-Assad’s downfall, Henry Srebrnik writes.

Syria’s Christians fear President Bashar al-Assad’s downfall, Henry Srebrnik writes.

Middle East, November 21, 2011: The Arab awaking has been, at best, a mixed blessing for the Middle East’s Christian Arab minorities. The uprisings in Libya and Tunisia have had little impact on the region’s Christians, as these two countries are almost entirely Sunni Muslim in religion.

But Egypt and Syria are a different story. The fall of Egypt’s president Hosni Mubarak earlier this year, and the ongoing rebellion against Bashar al-Assad, the authoritarian president of Syria, has exposed these minorities to violence and persecution by extremists.

The upheavals have prompted concerns that regimes that were seen as guarantors of Arab Christian survival, whatever their other faults, may be replaced by ideological Islamists.

In fact, Christian Arabs have been leaving the Middle East for decades, fearing the growth of fundamentalist Islamic groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

It is estimated that about half of Iraq’s 1.4 million Christians have fled the country since the American invasion in 2003, and even in Lebanon, which once had a Christian majority, the 1.7 million Christians are now only about one third of the country’s population.

They are now a negligible presence in the Palestinian territories – even in places such as Bethlehem. In Israel some nine per cent of its 1.6 million Arab citizens are Christian (hence about two per cent of the overall Israeli population). And in Jordan Christians comprise about three per cent of the population.

Egypt has some 10 million Christians, the largest remaining non-Muslim population in the Middle East by far. The ancient Coptic Orthodox Church is the main Christian denomination in Egypt, led by Pope Shenouda III. They represent more than 10 per cent of the total population.

Mubarak allowed them religious freedoms and punished Islamists who persecuted them. That protection is now gone.

A car bomb exploded in front of a Coptic Church in Alexandria last New Year’s Eve, killing 23 people and injuring at least 79. There was further sectarian violence in the country between Christians and Muslims in March and April.

The destruction at a Coptic church in southern Egypt on Sept. 30 further heightened tensions. When liberal Muslims joined Coptic Christians as they marched through Cairo’s Maspero area on Oct. 9 in protest, they were attacked.

Egyptian security forces then rammed their armed vehicles into the crowd and fired live ammunition indiscriminately. At least 36 people were killed and 272 injured.

The first stage of staggered parliamentary elections will begin on Nov. 28 amidst continuing turmoil and many Copts fear a strong showing by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Given these conditions, large numbers are leaving the country.

“If emigration of Christians continues at the present rate,” said Naguib Gabriel, director of the Cairo-based Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organizations, “it may reach 250,000 by the end of 2011.”

Syria’s Christian population, once more than 30 per cent of the country’s total, is now down to 10 per cent. The 2.5 million Christians in Syria belong to various eastern rite Orthodox, Catholic and Assyrian churches.

The Assad regime in Syria is dominated by the Alawite minority, itself just 10 percent of the population. They came to political power in the 1960s by dominating the army and the Ba’ath Party.

A Shi’a sect, they are viewed by many Sunni Arabs – who are the vast majority of Syrians – as heretics.

Many Christians fear that Assad’s downfall would deprive them of the semblance of protection the Assad family has provided for four decades. (Bashar’s father Hafez ruled the country from 1970 until 2000.) They might be subjected to reprisals at the hands of a conservative Sunni leadership that has long been out of power.

The Damascus regime has claimed it is being challenged by Islamic radicals. The demonstrators deny that, but many Christians appear to believe it.

Hence there have been interventions from bishops and priests, Orthodox and Catholic, on behalf of the government. As the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Mario Zenari recently stated, Syria has been a country that has been “exemplary in terms of harmony between different religious confessions, for mutual respect between the Muslim majority and Christian minority.”

But the Assad regime is probably living on borrowed time. Syria has already been suspended from the 22-member Arab League. Its only Middle Eastern ally is fellow Shi’a Iran, while most Sunnis in the region, including the Egyptians, Jordanians, Saudis, and non-Arab Turks, would shed few tears if it disappeared.

As Syria edges ever closer to civil war, Christians could well find themselves on the losing side. And should the regime fall, Syria might witness a bloodbath far worse than what we saw in Libya.

– henry srebrnik, journalpioneer

Good Thoughts…

November 25, 2011 by  
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Good ThoughtNice thoughtGood ThoughtNice thought

Good Thought

Good Thought

Good Thought

Good Thought

Good Thought

Good Thought

– fwd: vathan shettigar

Kandhamal violence pre-planned, say officials

November 23, 2011 by  
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Kandhamal violence pre-planned, say officialsOrissa, November 22, 2011: Two top Orissa state officials deposed before a commission of enquiry last week and said that the 2008 Kandhamal violence was pre-planned.

Former revenue divisional commissioner (RDC) Satyabrata Sahu and ex-deputy inspector general (DIG) of south range RP Kotche maintained that the violence was ‘pre-planned’ and the miscreants had even cut down trees to disrupt movement of police.

The duo had made the claim on Wednesday while appearing before the Justice Basudev Panigrahi Commission of Enquiry which is probing the violence that killed dozens of Christians and displaced thousands others.

They told the Commission that the movement of armed police in the district was severely restricted resulting in large scale violence which could not be controlled on time, according to the Press Trust of India (PTI).

While both the officers maintained that the administration had taken adequate steps to prevent the flare-up in the district, they said things suddenly went out of control.

Former MP RK Naik also deposed before the Commission, as there were allegations against him for inciting communal riots.

Two affidavits were reportedly filed against Naik accusing him of being involved in conspiracy to spread hatred among people of different religions.

Naik denied any role in the violence and also claimed that between the years 2004 and 2008 he mostly resided in Delhi.

Kandhamal witnessed unprecedented violence against tribal Christians after the murder of VHP leader Laxmananda Saraswati and four of his aides at his ashram on August 23, 2008.

Christians had been maintaining that the violence was not a spontaneous reaction.

– christian today

Secular, faith based groups oppose proposals for Gita classes in schools

November 23, 2011 by  
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Secular, faith based groups oppose proposals for Gita classes in schoolsMadhya Pradesh, November 22, 2011: Intellectuals and faith-based organizations like Rashtriya Secular Munch and Harmony Foundation, have urged the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to keep off from imparting from religious education of one religion alone in government schools and government-aided schools in the state. They will soon meet the state Governor Ram Naresh Yadav and ask him to uphold the Indian constitution.

“We will also talk to all political parties to join the efforts to safe guard the Indian Constitution from being diluted day by day”, the organizers said. They also decided to hold different types of protests in the state capital Bhopal and all over the state to register their ire against the government’s move.

There is a strong sense of protest and disturbance among secular circles of the state against the Chief Minister Chouhan’s announcement to include compulsorily “Geeta Saar” (summary of Hindu scripture Bhagwad Geeta) in schools syllabi in the state run and aided by the state government.

The meeting unanimously rejected the proposal of the state Government out-rightly as it violates the Indian Constitution’s secular credentials wherein it prohibits imparting religious education in schools of any one religion alone.

The Chief Minister had made the announcement while addressing a function of RSS run school at Indore. Mr. Chouhan, however, was unfazed by the opposition had reportedly said nobody could find anything wrong with the teachings of the Geeta which is a sacred text of Hindus.

Madhya Pradesh Muslim Educational Society chairman Ibrahim Qureshi said: “Teaching religion is the responsibility of the religious communities. Government should not step into the realm of religious education. Each religion should be taught by the teachers of each religion or no religious education should be imparted in the schools.”

Fr. Anand Muttungal, Catholic Church Spokesperson, said: “Teaching only one religion can divide the society on religious grounds. So, either teach important teachings of all religions or keep away religion from education”.

– pervez bari

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