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20,000 Indian Christians face another Christmas as refugees – two yrs after riots

ICC Note

“Victims are continuing to receive threats from the perpetrators of violence. Witnesses are facing intimidation by mobs outside courtrooms, and there is widespread fear. Hundreds of cases have not been registered properly by the police, and therefore will not be subject to investigations or prosecutions.”

12/15/2009 India (Release International)-Up to 20,000 Indian Christians face Christmas as refugees – two years after a wave of attacks by militant Hindus in the state of Orissa. Release International warns many displaced by the worst sectarian rioting in India are still unable to return to their villages for fear of death or forcible conversion to Hinduism.

Many who were witnesses to the riots face threats and intimidation by mobs gathered outside courtrooms. Up to 75 people were killed in the ultra-nationalist riots and 50,000 were driven from their homes, yet two years on, hundreds of cases have yet to be dealt with effectively by the judicial system.

Release International, which is part of the Religious Liberty Partnership (RLP), is calling for the Indian government to do all in its power to bring about justice, and for churches around the world to remember at Christmas the Indian Christians who were victims of the riots.

Andy Dipper, CEO of Release International, which serves persecuted Christians worldwide, says: ‘Please pray for Christians in India this Christmas, especially those in Orissa who still face the high risk of attack and marginalization from the Hindu fundamentalists.’

Release partner, the All India Christian Council, estimate up to 20,000 Christians who were driven from their villages by Hindu ultra-nationalists have been unable to return home. ‘Many village leaders are only allowing people to settle if they convert to Hinduism,’ says Release partner John Dayal, Secretary General of the All India Christian Council.

‘We know many are living as refugees in various cities in Orissa and other parts of India ,’ Mr Dayal told Release. ‘Many are struggling to find work. There have been reports of human trafficking of Orissa women.’

According to a statement by the Religious Liberty Partnership (attached), ‘a large proportion of victims have been unable to return to their villages for fear of death or forcible conversion to Hinduism.

‘Victims are continuing to receive threats from the perpetrators of violence. Witnesses are facing intimidation by mobs outside courtrooms, and there is widespread fear. Hundreds of cases have not been registered properly by the police, and therefore will not be subject to investigations or prosecutions.’

Rioting broke out in the Kandhamal district of Orissa in December 2007, when Dalit Christians were targeted and their property destroyed. In August 2008, violence erupted again after Maoist guerillas killed a prominent right-wing Hindu leader, Swami Lakshmananda Saraswati, and four of his followers.

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