Franciscans International Statement on recent Violence in India

In recent months there has been an upsurge of violence against Christians in the State of Orissa in India. Churches have been burned. People have been killed. A climate fear reigns in some towns and villages. Franciscans International, a Catholic faith-based NGO in Geneva, has raised the matter at the United Nations Human Rights Council. What follows are some extracts from their Statement to the Human Rights Council:

Franciscans International would like to draw the attention of the Human Rights Council to the pattern of communal violence and impunity that has developed in India over the last years.

The most recent example is the current crisis in the state of Orissa. As I speak to you, 23,000 people are living in overcrowded relief camps and many others are in hiding. They are mainly Tribals and Dalits of Christian faith, whose lives are threatened if they do not convert to Hinduism. The ongoing Anti-Christian violence has resulted in the death of at least 35 individuals and the destruction of more than 6,000 houses and over 90 religious buildings

Another example of communal violence is the conflict that occurred in the state of Gujarat in 2002, after a clash that left as many as 2,000 people dead, most of them Muslims. Prosecution of those accused of violence was largely insufficient, and no substantive investigation was carried out about the responsibility of the regional government. This must not be repeated again.

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