50,000 Sign Petition Calling for Release of Seven Christian Prisoners in India

ICC Note: Over 50,000 people have signed a petition that calls for the release of seven Christians wrongly charged with the murder of a Hindu leader in 2008. The murder of Swami Laxmanananda Sarawati was the spark that led to India’s worst instance of Christian persecution. Since Christians were wrongly blamed for the murder, widespread anti-Christian mob violence swept across the Kandhamal District of Odisha killing as many as 100 Christians and displacing 56,000 others.

07/13/2018 India (Asia News) – On the eve of the tenth anniversary of the violence against Christians in Orissa, which will be commemorated with a solemn mass on August 25, more than 50,000 signatures were collected in favor of the release of seven incarcerated Christians.

These Christian prisoners, including a disabled person, have been languishing for years behind bars charged without proof for the murder of Hindu Leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati. Organizers of the initiative say their hope of gaining their freedom thanks to an online petition that can be signed at www.release7innocents.com is rekindled.

In a press conference held yesterday, Anto Akkara (the journalist who launched the platform on the web) invited everyone to sign the petition and support the release of prisoners. They are: Bhaskar Sunamajhi, Bijay Kumar Sanseth, Budhadeb Nayak, Durjo Sunamajhi, Gornath Chalenseth, Munda Badamajhi and Sanathan Badamajh. For each signature the site automatically generates four direct emails to the president of the Indian Supreme Court; to the office of the president of India; to the Director of the Commission on Human Rights; to the high court of Orissa.

On August 23, 2008, the assassination of the Hindu holy man, claimed by a group of Maoists but blame officially on the shoulders of Christians of Kandhamal district, was the spark that triggered the most violent sectarian persecution in Indian history against Christians by Hindu radicals. It forced almost 56,000 refugees to flee and resulted in the pillaging and burning of 5,600 houses in 415 villages.

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For interviews with William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org

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