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  • » 12/27/2008, 00.00

    INDIA

    In Orissa, a peaceful Christmas, but "armored"



    Under heavy security measures, Christmas celebrations were carried out with no incidents, after months of anti-Christian violence. In 2007, there was a true Christmas of martyrdom. But thousands of Christians have celebrated Christ in the refugee camps.

    Bhubaneswar (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Under strict security measures, Christians have celebrated midnight Mass "without problems" in the district of Kandhamal and in all of Orissa, after the serious anti-Christian violence by Hindu extremists which, since August, has caused at least 38 deaths, and forced thousands to flee.

    For days, tight police control has been in force in the area, including the use of helicopters to prevent any sort of incident after the genuine hunt for Christians unleashed by Hindu extremists at Christmas of 2007, when the police did not act quickly enough. In many areas, Hindu groups joined the Christians for their religious ceremonies.

    But the biggest celebrations were held in the 10 government camps where, for months, at least 10,000 refugees have been living, too afraid of further violence to return to their homes. In Kandhamal, about 80% of the Christians have fled, and many churches have remained almost empty. Life is difficult in the camps, and even the necessities are often lacking. A special meal was served after midnight Mass, to represent joy at the birth of Christ.

    The president of India, Patibha Devisingh Patil, "on the occasion of the happy event of Christmas," wanted to "recall the teachings of Jesus" and "invite all to spread his universal message of love and compassion," with particular concern "for the less fortunate part of the population."

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    See also

    29/12/2008 INDIA
    Security forces in Orissa can't stop arson, fear
    Two shops and a Christian center have been burned. More than 10,000 refugees gathered in the camps have celebrated Christmas under the protection of the army. In the villages, the Masses were moved up to the afternoon in order to avoid returning home in the dark.

    09/09/2008 INDIA
    Orissa: no peace for Christians even in refugee camps
    Even in the camps, the faithful find fundamentalists who coerce them to convert to Hinduism. Priests also threatened and abused.

    23/12/2008 INDIA
    Bishop of Orissa: Glory in heaven and peace on earth, including Kandhamal
    The archbishop of Bhubaneshwar emphasizes that Christmas is an occasion of joy even in the refugee camps for persecuted Christians. Amid the sufferings and anguish of more than 50,000 victims, sharing and solidarity have shone from the entire world, the beginning of a new world, a new world order. The reflections of Archbishop Cheenath were gathered by Nirmala Carvalho.

    12/01/2009 INDIA
    Orissa: insecurity and hatred await Christians forced out of refugee camps
    The government closes down camps, handing out paltry sums to refugees. After being forced to return to their destroyed homes, the latter must live side-by-side with their persecutors. Back home they are refused employment, even day work, whilst store owners refuse to sell them any supplies.

    18/10/2008 INDIA
    Christians of Orissa appeal to UN as "stateless citizens"
    The government of Orissa is even closing the refugee camps, and thousands of people have nowhere to go. An appeal to the UN, that it grant Indian Christians the status of refugees, protect them, and send them the food and shelter that India is denying them.



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