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Christian Monitor (04/04/06)

(Hopegivers International) – Appeals for the release of Hopegivers co-founder Dr. Samuel Thomas on bail were denied Saturday, April 1 by local authorities in Kota , Rajasthan. Dr. Thomas now must wait until Monday, April 10 to have a judge decide upon his release.

“Pray for our ongoing efforts to negotiate the release of Dr. Thomas that are going on this week in India ,” said Hopegivers Executive Director Michael Glenn. “His leadership is urgently needed at the Hope Home orphanages and hospital we support in Kota . The longer this harassment goes on, the more the welfare of the children and patients will suffer.”

Since his arrest more than two weeks ago, lawyers for the leader of the Emmanuel Mission International (EMI) have been questioning the legitimacy of the vague charges filed against him for causing “communal disharmony”. EMI is the indigenous partner in India for Hopegivers International.

The arrest of Dr. Sam is bringing worldwide condemnation from advocates of human rights.

“This is a blatant denial of freedom of speech and religion,” says Mr. Glenn, “and goes against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well the Indian constitution.”

Mr. Glenn called on people around the world to continue to pray for the release of Dr. Sam and write letters to the Prime Minister of India to intervene. The persecution of Dr. Sam and other Christian leaders in Rajasthan has sparked a campaign of peaceful protest from supporters of the mission.

Hindu radicals in Kota have accused EMI of publishing a controversial Hindi-language book title “Haqeeqat”—something which Dr. Samuel Thomas repeatedly denied before he was arrested and jailed.

Hopegivers’ Founder Bishop M.A. Thomas, 72, has had similar charges brought against him and is also wanted by police and anti-Christian militants alike. He has been forced into hiding after several threats on his life were made—including one anti-Christian militant offering a bounty of $26,000 for his head. Attempts to arrange anticipatory bail for him were also denied last week.