Massive rally at the Capital
- For more information, contact:
Dr. Sam Paul, aicc Secretary Public Affairs
For Immediate Release
Anti-Christian violence slowing, but the interior Orissa villages
Massive rally in India's capitol and nation-wide closure of
Christian schools in protest of inadequate government response to
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
"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:
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
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.