03/20/2008, 00.00
INDIA
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Fasting and march against the “daily” persecution of Christians in Orissa

Christians and lawmakers protest in the street against inaction by the Orissa State government over last Christmas’ violence. Since the incidents took place state authorities have done nothing to apprehend the culprits or protect and compensate the victims. Protesters demand the intervention of the central government.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – This afternoon Archbishop Vincent Concessao and many MPs and leaders of religious groups will march in New Delhi from the Jantar Mantar monument to Parliament Building to demand justice for the victims of the Christmas violence in Kandhamal District in Orissa State. The rally, which will also be attended by some 150 victims, is part of wider demonstrations and hunger strike that began on Tuesday by the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) to protest against Orissa authorities for protecting those responsible for the violence and to demand the central government intervene.

In launching the protest two days ago Monsignor Concessao (from the diocese of New Delhi) called on the governments of Orissa and India to protect minority rights and guarantee victims’ security.

At Christmas hundreds of Hindu fundamentalists attacked Christians destroying hundreds of homes and businesses as well as churches and churches property, causing several deaths and injuring many people, forcing thousands of Christians to seek refuge in the area’s forests since police failed to do anything. In the end hundreds of families have lost home and livelihood and have not received any compensation from the state.

GCIC Chairman Sajan George said that he was “very worried about the inaction of the Orissa State government in providing essential aid to the displaced” and made an appeal “to civil society to support the victims’ cause against the injustice perpetrated this past Christmas.”

He accused the Orissa government of failing to stop the violence and help the victims “who continued to be tormented.”

Many families from Kandhamal are still stuck in refugee camps, often without adequate food, and continue to be threatened and victimised by small violent acts, even by police.

Sajan George told AsiaNews that “the rally will be even greater tomorrow, Good Friday, a day of prayer and fasting for Christians around the world. On that solemn occasion we want the government to lead the country, especially Orissa, onto the path of justice and peace.” (NC)

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