Survivors Christian Violence Meet EU Officials

Monday, February 8, 2010

By Santosh Digal, Worthy News Asia Correspondent

KANDHAMAL, INDIA (Worthy News)-- Survivors of India's worst anti-Christian violence in recent memory have met European Union delegates over the weekend, urging the officials to help them fight for justice.

EU diplomats appeared visibly moved when visiting displaced refugees in the troubled Indian state of Orissa where they saw old and sick men and infants born in refugees camps that were set up after violence killed over 100 people since Christmas 2007.

Most bloodshed rocked the region in August, 2008, as Hindu mobs in Orissa's Kandhamal District attacked churches and Christian homes. The violence broke out after the killing of a Hindu leader. Although Maoist fighters reportedly claimed responsibility, Hindus blamed Christians.

The Survivors Association of Kandhamal Communal violence handed over a memorandum to the EU delegation saying "Homeless and in agony, we still welcome you to our beautiful Kandhamal, where we have lived generations upon generations since history began for us."

"We hope," the statement said, that "your short visit to Kandhamal will help you see for yourself not just the condition in which many of our brothers and sisters live [but also] our sorrow and our pain invisible and unfelt to the outside world."


Some 5347 houses were "looted and destroyed by fire, many women and girls were raped, and more than 75 people were murdered" in the August-related clashes alone, the group added. Many were killed, it said, in "the name of religion and ethnicity. Large-scale displacement and migrations followed with over 50,000 people becoming refugees in their own motherland."

However relative few arrests have been made. "The culprits of this inhuman activity are roaming freely, neither arrested nor punished," survivors said. "We are deeply concerned the high rate of acquittals in the fast track courts," added Archbishop Raphael Cheenath.

He said Christian leaders are "demanding [the creation of] a Special Investigation team to investigate every case of murder and arson. Similarly, there is also need for transferring the cases against politically powerful persons."

Christians are a minority in this mainly Hindu nation of over 1 billion people, but attacks have increased as Hindu militant groups fight the spread of Christianity in especially rural regions.