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Attacks against the Christian community

Brutal attacks against the Christian community took place on Christmas eve, in December 2007, in the Kanhamal district of Orissa. The Christmas festival of joy and peace was ruined by the unwarranted attacks by fundamentalist forces. There appears to be a  total breakdown of law and order that could curtail such crimes against humanity.
 
In a memorandum submitted to the National Human Rights Commission and signed by Archbishop Vincent Concessao of Delhi, Dr. John Dayal, President of the All India Catholic Union , Dr. Joseph Desouza, President of the All India Christian Council and other Christian Leaders, it was stated that nearly 90 Churches have been burned down and nine people have died.  Furthermore, bout 600 houses were burned or vandalized and some 5000 people have been affected by the attacks.
 
According to a report by the All India Christian Council and the All India Catholic Union, there have been on a weekly basis during 2007 at least four cases  of attacks against Christians.
 
Former Chief Justice A.H. Ahmadi had remarked at a seminar organized in January 2008 by the Institute of Objective Studies in Delhi in reference  to the attacks against Christians and churches in Orissa  that the Minorities were being marginalized and their voices were being silenced by instilling in them fear and insecurity.
 
Following a visit to some of the sites in Orissa, the National Minority Commission reported that the attacks on Christians in Orissa's Khandamal district in December 2007 had been "preplanned" and that the state Government had been " negligent" in controlling the violence.

In response to a letter from Ms Gladys Staines, the Honorable Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh stated that: " I assure you that the Government will take all necessary steps to safeguard the fundamental rights and liberties of all sections of our society and protect their religious freedom as enshrined in the Constitution.”  However, shortly afterward, there were attacks against Christians in Chahattisgarh.

Candle light vigil Satyagrah
 
A candle light vigil Satyagraha was held between 6.30 p.m. and 7.00 p.m. outside Our Lady of Salvation Church, [Portuguese Church], Dadar west, on January 30, 2008. This day was chosen because of the significance of the 60th death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi , which is also known as Martyr's Day. The Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay, Bosco Penha, Auxiliary lit the first candle to mark the beginning of the peace vigil service. He stated, "Christians are
victimized and the government should act immediately. We have taken this protest onto the street so the secular world can see our message that these attacks must stop"  Over one thousand activists from all over Mumbai attended the peace vigil.


Dominicans for Justice and Peace urge the Government of India to initiate suitable measures
in order to :
 
* Protect the rights and the lives and the properties of
Christians in Orissa
 
* Provide immediate relief and adequate compensation to the
victims as per ICCPR Article 2.3.1
 
* Ensure peace and harmony in the State so that people may
live without fear and freely practice their faith.

The Dominican family in India
Possible action by members of the Dominican Family

A letter could be sent to the government of your own country asking them to communicate with the Indian Embassy or Consulate in your country (or you could write a letter yourself) to act on behalf of Christians in Orissa. Please see below a sample letter that could be used
 
Honourable Ambassador/Counsul etc…,
 
 Protection of the Rights of the Christian Minorities in Orissa
 
We write to you to express our deep concern over the communal violence that has engulfed the  district of Khandhamal in Orissa since Christmas Eve 2007. The  violence has led to the death of persons, injury to many and thousands
of people have been rendered homeless and penniless. Many houses have been torched and looted. Hundreds of people have fled to the woods. Christians were victims of this violence. The timing of the attack and the way it was carried out shows that there is a serious attempt by some forces to eliminate Christians and to annihilate Christianity.

The State of India has failed in its duty to protect the rights of Christians -
and to guarantee their protection to right to life and to personal liberty, to freedom of conscience  and to free profession, practice and propagation of religion - the very
rights that are enshrined in the Constitution of your country (Articles 21 & 25)
and in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR
Articles 18 & 27) to which the Government of India is a party.
 
 
In this context, we urge the Government of India to initiate suitable measures
in order to :
 
* Protect the rights and the lives and the properties of
Christians in Orissa
 
* Provide immediate relief and adequate compensation to the
victims as per ICCPR Article 2.3.1
 
* Ensure peace and harmony in the State so that people may
live without fear and freely practice their faith.

 
 
For your information, please below the address of the Prime Minister:
Dr. Manmohan Singh
 Prime Minister of India, Prime Minister's Office, South Block,
Raisina Hill, New Delhi, 110011, India
 Fax : (+) 91 -11- 2301 9545 / 23016857
 Email : manmohan@alpha.nic.in / pmosb@pmo.nic.in

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