Tuesday, August 26, 2008

FIACONA Press Release

Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations in North America

Press Release

Nun gang raped, one burnt alive, orphanage and churches set on fire again in Orissa

Federation of Indian Christian Organizations in North America is deeply anguished and tormented by the mindless and macabre events taking place against Christians in Orissa. Every religion of the world condemns and prohibits violence of any kind. According to ibnlive.com with inputs from PTI and IANS, Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, a member of VHP's central advisory committee, and four other people were killed at his Jalespata ashram in Kandhamal district, 340 km from Bhubaneswar, on Saturday evening after more than 30 suspected Maoist rebels opened fire on them. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) called a statewide bandh (shutdown) to protest against the murder of Swami Laxmananda Saraswati. However, activists accompanying body of the slain leader defied curfew and held processions passing through Phulbani town, attacking churches, houses and vehicles of one community, police said. Without any reason, the activists targeted only Christians. Over a dozen churches and prayer halls were torched, police outposts attacked and about 15 vehicles damaged in the communally sensitive Kandhamal district during the bandh. Two churches were damaged in Phulbani town and two police outposts were ransacked near Nuagaon, while churches and prayer halls were attacked in Baliguda, Barkhama, Tikabali and Udaigiri areas.

The most horrifying, horrendous, sickening, and gruesome event against peace-loving Christians was the burning of a 25-year old woman to death and injuring a priest, when activists set fire to an orphanage run by Christian missionaries in a village in Orissa’s Bargarh district on Monday. First reports from Khuntapali village say the suspected Sangh Parivar activists first pulled out children from the orphanage and then set it ablaze at around 4:00pm. The woman, who was a teacher at the orphanage, and the priest were trapped inside. The woman was burnt alive in the blaze however; the priest survived and is now recovering in a hospital. Can this barbaric incident justify civilization from any angle? Is this how Ahimsa (non-violence) is practiced in the land which won its freedom with non-violent means? There are several incidents it the past also, when Hindu extremists in Orissa attacked Christian missionaries. For example, in 1999 an Australian missionary, Graham Staines, and his two sons were killed by a mob that set their car on fire. There has been an outbreak of violence against Christians since December 2007 when thousands of Christians were beaten, traumatized, houses and churches burnt, and were driven away from their homes. The office of Special Relief Commissioner of Orissa said about 4051 people were affected in the communal violence that began in the last week of December 2007. Hundreds still live in jungles to this day out fear for their lives.

FIACONA condemns the murder, rape and brutal treatment of the Christians in strongest possible terms. The attitude of the current government in Orissa and at the Centre towards such acts against the Christian minority is unacceptable. Indian Government should immediately intervene as there is total failure of law and order on the part of Orissa Government. Heinous crimes of this magnitude cannot be ignored. All these macabre incidents highlight the trauma, the pain, and the helplessness of the Christian community. FIACONA demands immediate dismissal of the state government and imposition of President’s rule to ensure the security and safety of the minority community. “The culprits of such crimes,” Rev. Bernard Malik, the President of FIACONA said “should be arrested and prosecuted immediately”

For the favor of publication

Rev. Bernard Malik 302-354-5452


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