02/01/2010, 00.00
INDIA
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Karnataka, a march against the persecution of Christians in memory of Gandhi

by Nirmala Carvalho
Marking the Day of the martyrdom of Gandhi, the Christian minority march silently to demand the government stop the attacks against them. In 2009 alone, over 159 registered attacks on churches and believers, 72 in Karnataka.

Mysore (AsiaNews) - More than two thousand Christians marched in silence to mark the World Day for Peace and ask the Indian government for protection against religious persecution that is growing day by day. According to the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), a group based in Bangalore, in 2009 alone there were 159 violent attacks against the minority, of which 72 in Karnataka, the state where there silent march was held.

A joint statement - signed by the President of the association, Sajan George, and the Catholic Bishop of Mysore, Thomas A. Vazhapilly, addressed to the Governor of Karnataka - reads: "We the members of the Christian community of Mysore, on the day dedicated to the martyrdom of Mahatma Gandhi pay tribute to the father of the nation. But we are also here to present our protest against the atrocities perpetrated against our community. "

"We also - reads the text - want to bring your attention to the fact that attacks on minorities, particularly Christians, are increasing. In the last ten days alone, 4 occurred. But in 2009 there were 159, including 72 in Karnataka. These attacks are a threat to the secular soul of our nation, human rights and the inalienable right to freely to profess and propagate ones own religion. A right guaranteed by the Constitution".

But the text also contains a precise indictment, it states: "We regret to note that the attacks on Christians have intensified since the current state government came to power. Little has been done recently by the authorities to ensure protection of the faithful and their churches. The response of Christians has always been peaceful, but we expect that the state, local and central, and the international community realize that there is a specific plan against us and that they come to our aid”.

In conclusion, the petitioners are asking the governor "for intervention to protect minorities, Christian and otherwise, that they give a direct order to the security forces, to take action to investigate the attacks and punish those responsible; adequate representation of members of Christian communities within the organs of state government, a commitment to stop the hate campaign currently in place”.

Interviewed by AsiaNews, Council President Sajan George said: "Today we remember Gandhi, the apostle of nonviolence. It is a shame for the whole of India that, after his teaching, there are still people who are persecuted for their faith. The administration should work for a culture of peace and equality for all citizens. Violence and intolerance can not possibly coexist with peace and harmony. This is to the detriment of the good of the nation. "

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