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The CSF to internationalize Anti-Christian Violence

April 11, 2011 by  
Filed under Campaigns, National

Give Christians Arms Licenses for Self-Defence, IF Government Can’t Protect its Citizens
Gandhi Jayanti Eve – Kandhamal Christians Internationalise Anti-Christian Violence
Orissa Relief Camps Bombed – Christians Not Safe Even in Government Shelters
100 Victims of Anti-Christians Violence & Civil Society March to United Nations
Mahesh Bhat & Others Petition UNO to Declare Orissa Christians as Refugees
Deny Navin Patnaik & Yeddyurappa Visas to Go Abroad
On the eve of Gandhi Jayanti and International Day for Peace, 100 tribal Christians from the communal violence-affected districts of Orissa, especially from Kandhamal petitioned the UNO to declare them refugees. A delegation comprising representatives of civil society, like noted film director, Mahesh Bhat and Ms. Shabnam Hashmi (member, National Integration Council, Govt of India) accompanied Dr. Abraham Mathai, (president Indian Christian Voice and vice-chairman, Maharashtra Minorities Commission), Mr. Joseph Dias (general secretary, The Catholic Secular Forum) and others to meet Ms. Shalini Dewan, the UN director presenting to her the petition, seeking UN intervention. Among the other signatories to the petition were Rev. Nitin Sardar of Dinbandhu Ministries and Dr. John Dayal, member, National Integration Council, Govt of India.

The Orissa Christians feared for their lives, if they were forced to go back to the state and hence, sought refugee status, which is historic, since it is the first time that persecuted Christians are making such an appeal. Mahesh Bhat said that this delegation had met all concerned – the President of India downwards, but to no avail. Hence, they were forced to make such a request on behalf of those persecuted for their faith and discriminated against because of their religion. Dr. Mathai said that the petition addressed to the UN Secretary General would be sent by his office in national capital to him in New York and some positive development was expected. He warned of a worse holocaust to follow the communal carnage, which the Government would not be able to prevent. He added that a national shame had become an international embarrassment for the PM on his visit abroad and India’s secular image needs to be kept intact overseas.

Mr. Joseph Dias feared militancy rising among Christian youth, with the violence continuing unabated with killings reported daily, over the last few months, torching of churches and wanton destruction of hundreds of homes, which had not yet been contained. Already there were calls from within the community, to ask the government for arm licenses to be used in self-defence, as such attacks will not stop, he said. He also called for refugee camps, under UN supervision to be started in Orissa to give food to the thousands starving to death in the forests and also emergency medicare to hundreds brutally injured and dying. The CSF general secretary hoped that “with the nuclear deal done, the Prime Minister would now have time to pay attention to serious issues nearer at home, like rising anti-Christian violence, which had already claimed hundreds of lives and caused destruction worth crores of rupees. Communalism is a threat to the Indian nation and if the fires are not tended, it would consume the country and affect all world citizens, like terrorism” he added.

The CSF general secretary urged the PM to visit Orissa and Karnataka, saying that The CSF would now also now internationalize the issue by writing to various heads of nations to act on controlling foreign funds to the Saffron Brigade and deny visas to Naveen Patnaik & Yeddyurappa to visit their countries, as is the case with Narendra Modi. Mr. Joseph Dias said, if a lunatic shot an innocent or a few were killed in a bomb blast, it made the front-page, but when hundreds of Christians were massacred and tens of thousands were brutally wounded by supporters of the RSS – VHP – Bajrang Dal, it ceased to make news, any longer. The CSF also received information that there was panic and chaos in the relief camp of Christians in Kandhamal when bombs exploded. The bombs, suspected to be hand-made and of low intensity, went off at Nuagaon, Mahasinghi village and Baliguda town at around 7, 8 and 9 pm respectively. What next ? Our silence makes us culpable, with implicit involvement in the murder and spilling of innocent blood, he concluded.

PETITION TO UNITED NATIONS


As you are aware, the violence against Christians in various States of India, especially in the State of Orissa, over the last 45 days, has made world headlines. The New York Times on 3rd September 2008 reported that 1,400 homes and 80 churches had been destroyed or damaged. The actual figures in Orissa, are more than double. Hundreds have been killed for belonging to the faith and large-scale gross human rights abuse is taking place – rape, brutal injury, police atrocities, torching of churches & property belonging to Christians, their institutions and clergy. Even the official figures of lives lost or crores of rupees worth property vandalized in the ensuing carnage, has shocked civil society in India and abroad. Tens of thousands are rendered homeless, living in the forests or in government relief camps – where inhuman living conditions, devoid of basic food & medicine – is cause of many deaths.

The Christian community seems to have lost all faith in the Government to protect the life & property of its citizens, especially when it comes to the minority Christians, who constitute a meager 2.5% of the country’s population. Further, the States where this is happening, especially Orissa, are ruled by the opposition right-wing BJP and allies, and this being an election year, the Government is reluctant to act, as it is not seen to be politically expedient. It’s been months since the Christmas eve massacre in Orissa and the community has ever since, been knocking at all doors – the President & PM of India downwards – but to no avail. As of today, the attacks continue with a renewed vigour of ethnic cleansing and genocide in Orissa and spreading to at least 8 other States of India.

The onslaught would have claimed more lives, if only the media and human rights activists had not played a significant restraining role, by highlighting the brutality of the Hindu extremists, backed by an inactive Government, which if not abets the communal violence, certainly turns a Nelson’s eye to it.There are all indications of a worse holocaust to follow the communal carnage, which we fear cannot be prevented by the Government. Christian NGOs & the Church are not allowed to even fend for its own & care for its hurt and dying. There seems to be no hope for thousands of Christian victims and the only option to save their lives, they feel is to flee the state. Hundreds of Oriya Christians have run-away from the State and contacted the undersigned NGOs to protect them & seek UN intervention.

It is against this background and emergency conditions, that we have therefore, as a last resort, brought to the national capital, this first batch of about 100 Christians from Orissa and make the following requests –

1) These Oriya Christians and others to follow have expressed the desire to be termed Prima Facie Refugees and urge you, through the UNHCR to deem them so, in order that they can be covered by a legal framework to protect their human dignity from rights violations and abuse. Currently, they along with tens of thousands, are a Stateless people, as the writ of the Government of India, does not run large in the State of Orissa. There is no Rule of Law and mobocracy by Hindutva terror outfits like, the RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal, is the political system, which is in place. The Prime Minister has not visited Orissa and earlier, even the Home Minister of India could not visit the victims.

2) These Oriya Christians fulfill the requirements, as per the UN conventions to be Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and urge you, through the various relief agencies, like the International Red Cross, UNHCR, etc. to provide them with the basic food, medicine and shelter. Tens of thousands such as these, will either be killed by the Hindu extremists or will die of injury and malnourishment, if no attention is paid immediately. Many of these are old, women, children, babies, clergy… who are the most vulnerable sections. We appeal to you on humanitarian grounds, not take a strictly legalistic view, as precious lives are being lost by every day, even as blood is split by the hour.

3) The State government has prevented Christian NGOs from working in the areas, thus facilitating the Hindutva ethnic cleansing and genocide begun, against Christians – akin to State-sponsored terrorism. The Government of India refuses to use its constitutional powers, for reasons best known. Now, humanitarian aid, under UN supervised relief camps are an imperative, as relief even if sent, will not be channeled to reach the dying and the needy. The UNHCR as per its mandate urgently needs to set-up refugee camps for 50,000 Oriyans, persecuted for their faith – refugees in their own land or IDPs, in UN parlance.

Finally, the violence being carried out against Christians in India is a clear breach of their human rights under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948. We appeal to the UN and the related world agencies, to urge the Indian government to fulfill its obligations and responsibilities, under the Constitution of India and in particular Articles 3, 7, 8, 12 and 18 of the Universal Declaration, which India ratified in 1948.

We also appeal to the UN and its world agencies, to exercise its power and influence, to protect lives and prevent further killings in India or discrimination on the basis of race, religion or caste. We thank you for your kind attention and trust that the matters raised in this letter will be given due consideration.

(The Signatories)

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