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AsiaNews (12/01/05) – The Indian Catholic community “condemns the attacks perpetrated against the Catholic Church and its members in the People’s Republic of China ”. Indian Catholics are calling on the United Nations, on groups working for civil freedoms at international level, and on the Indian government to “do something” to make Beijing understand that “such actions against freedom of worship do not behoove a great nation like China seeking global recognition in the economic sphere”.

This was the thrust of an open letter written by John Dayal, president of the All India Catholic Union (AICU), the largest and oldest organisation of lay Catholics in Asia , in the wake of recent attacks against 16 Catholic sisters of Xian and the arrest of six priests of the unofficial Church in Zhengding diocese.

The Indian Christian community is “close to victims of the violence” in a special way, not least because it is also “the victim of government apathy and Indian nationalist violence”.

The AICU drew attention to how anti-religious violence perpetrated by the Chinese government has “in a way” aided and abetted anti-Christian aggression in Pakistan and Bangladesh . The letter continues: “We are surprised that the Government of India , always ready to speak out when non-Christian minorities were harassed in Pakistan and Dhaka , has chosen to remain mum in this case.”

The example of the Dalai Lama was referred to, a refugee for political and religious reasons from Beijing-controlled Tibet , who is “generously hosted by the government”.

The AICU leaders and members closed their letter by “paying tribute to the strength of faith of Catholics and members of other Christian denominations in China who, either in hiding or openly, confront challenges unheard of in modern times”.