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Massive rally at the Capital

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  • Madhu Chandra
    For more information, contact: Dr. Sam Paul, aicc Secretary Public Affairs +91-9989697778 For Immediate Release Anti-Christian violence slowing, but the
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 29, 2008
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      For more information, contact:
      Dr. Sam Paul, aicc Secretary Public Affairs
      +91-9989697778

      For Immediate Release

      Anti-Christian violence slowing, but the interior Orissa villages
      still targeted

      Massive rally in India's capitol and nation-wide closure of
      Christian schools in protest of inadequate government response to
      riots

      New Delhi, August 29, 2008

      Reports of attacks from the eastern state of Orissa are decreasing,
      but many rural villages remain cut off from communication and being
      attacked at night. Outside Orissa, the Indian Christian community
      engaged in several peaceful protest actions to highlight the
      breakdown of the rule of law and governance. After six days of
      rioting, the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, broke his silence
      and called the violence a "national shame".

      "We are thankful that we did not receive any reports of new attacks
      last night. However, there are literally thousands of displaced
      Christians whose homes were destroyed in the mob violence. Hundreds
      more are afraid to return home," said Rev. P.R. Parichha, All India
      Christian Council (aicc) Orissa state president. "The violence in
      towns and cities seems to be over, but the villages face the strong
      possibility of more attacks since security forces are spread thin.
      We still are requesting military intervention," said Parichha.

      Media reports said Orissa officials estimate 4,000 Christian
      families are homeless. The death toll, currently at 17, is expected
      to raise as troops secure rural areas. The violence, which at one
      point spread across 12 of 30 districts in the state, now seems to be
      contained to Kandhamal District, the epicenter of similar attacks
      during Christmas 2007.

      In protest of the collapse of governance and the rule of law in
      Orissa, about 10,000 Christians rallied in New Delhi this morning
      and were joined by Muslims, Buddhists, and progressive Hindus.
      Protestors tried to march to Orissa Bhavan (the official state
      government guest house in the capitol), but police issued a
      localized curfew to stop the rally. Attendees were forced to regroup
      at the Teen Murti traffic circle, but eventually reached Orissa
      Bhavan.

      "Udit Raj, a major Dalit leader, and other non-Christian human
      rights activists clearly explained that the violence in Orissa is
      not because Christians are fraudulently converting people. That
      allegation is simply lie and hate propaganda."

      Civil society leaders suggested India needs an investigation into
      why Hindu nationalist organizations � who have converted tribals and
      Dalits in a major campaign � are not being held accountable under
      Orissa's 1967 Freedom of Religion Act. "We must confront the
      fictional idea of "re-conversions", created by Hindutva activists,
      which ignores the fact that these people's ancestors were animists
      and not Hindus," said Rev. Madhu Chandra, aicc Regional Secretary
      and a member of the rally's organizing committee.

      Also, an estimated 30,000 Christian schools across India closed
      their doors on Friday. The goal was to make millions of children �
      and their parents � aware of the evil of communal violence and the
      damage it is doing to the world's largest democracy. Aicc and major
      church networks which called for the closure encouraged people to
      pray for victims as well as perpetrators. Much of the Indian press
      inaccurately reported that only Roman Catholic schools were closed.

      Christian leaders are also calling for a day of prayer and fasting
      across India on September 7, 2008.

      In the aftermath of the murder of a Hindu swami by unknown
      assailants on August 23, 2008, mobs attacked the Christian community
      across the eastern state of Orissa. Media reports and eye witness
      accounts from aicc leaders indicate thousands of Christian
      properties burnt, sexual assaults of nuns, and pastors killed in
      their homes. See dedicated webpage at:
      http://indianchristians.in/news/content/view/2332/45/

      From Dec. 24, 2007-Jan. 2, 2008, attacks in Kandhamal district
      killed at least four Christians and destroyed over 100 churches and
      730 Christian homes. Most of the victims were Dalits, formerly known
      as untouchables.

      The All India Christian Council (www.aiccindia.org), birthed in
      1998, exists to protect and serve the Christian community,
      minorities, and the oppressed castes. The aicc is a coalition of
      thousands of Indian denominations, organizations, and lay leaders.

      Release by
      Madhu Chandra
      Regional Secretary
      9868184939
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