02/11/2016, 12.49
INDIA
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Survivors of the Orissa pogroms in solidarity with persecuted Christians in Syria

by Santosh Digal

The survivors of the most ferocious massacre against the Christian community in India met for the first time. During the meeting they expressed solidarity with the suffering Christians in Syria and the Middle East. "As refugees, we can truly understand your pain." "The wave of violence directed at implementing an ethnic and religious cleansing against Yazidis and Christians is a crime against humanity."

 

Bhubaneswar (AsiaNews) - The survivors of the massacres in Kandhamal in 2008 have expressed deep solidarity with the persecuted Christians in the Middle East, particularly in Syria. They empathize with  "the pain and suffering of those people who are murdered, assaulted, raped, mutilated, driven from their homes and from their places in such an unfair, cruel and barbaric manner".
For the first time, on 9 February, those who fled the fiercest pogrom against Christians ever perpetrated in the Asian country by Hindu radicals met in Kandhamal. The meeting aimed to "build solidarity" and "allow victims share stories of hope, faith and the fight for justice." They prayed for the Christians of Syria and appealed to Pope Francis and the international community to put an end to the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East.

In 2008, Hindu extremists set fire to the district accusing Christians of killing the guru Laxamananda Saraswati. The violence has caused 101 deaths and 75 thousand refugees. Here is the text of the declaration.

We, victim survivors of Kandhamal anti-Christian massacre of 2007 and 2008 numbering 115, express our deepest sympathy and stand in solidarity with the survivors of Middle East Christians, especially in Syria.

We make the following statement as we came together for the first time to share our struggles for justice, religious freedom and human dignity at Pastoral Centre, K.Nuagoan, on Feb 9, in Kandhamal district, some 275 kms, West of Bhubaneswar, state capital of Odisha, Eastern India.

The meeting aimed to build solidarity among Kandhamal violence survivors, who lost their loved ones. The event was organized to foster communion among the survivors. We shared our stories of hope, of faith and struggle for justice. The key features of the meet was paying silent tributes to those who lost their lives during the Kandhamal violence and securing justice for those who have laid down their lives for Christ.

Kandhamal district in eastern Odisha was the scene of the worst anti-Christian pogrom in the history of modern India in 300 years. The violence, which lasted nearly four months, caused the death of 101 deaths and 75,000 displaced people fled the respective homes and villages.

The deadliest outbreak of violence aimed ethnic and religious cleansing of Yezdi and Christian is crime against humanity and there are no parallels in the recent history. We could understand the unimaginable sufferings of the millions of people just because they follow different religious traditions and faith. We do feel anguished the unbelievable anguish and unspeakable crimes against the followers of Christ has worsened. The religious fundamentalists are the scourge of society without sparing children and women.

“We cannot but express our sense of solidarity for the Syrians people who are facing huge crisis and their lives in danger. We pray for them that peace may be restored there and human rights and dignity might prevail over there soon. Violence in Syrian should end soon’, said Christudas Nayak, one of the participants.

We do really feel pains and sufferings of those people who are being killed, assaulted, raped and maimed and driven out of their own habitations and own places in unjust, inhuman and barbaric manner. There are large scale of human trafficking of children and women, enslavement of women; beheading and burning of the followers without an iota of mercy.

We invite all the people of goodwill across the globe to join the efforts to protect and bring back the endangered fellow Christians and others who have become victims of violence. We call on the Nations and communities to respect and protect freedom of religion or belief as a fundamental human rights guaranteed by art of 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We appeal United Nations, Vatican and ecumenical, interreligious bodies and civil society groups to work towards for promotion of peace, harmony and religious tolerance in every state, especially in the Middle East, especially in Syria.

We have sent a letter to Pope Francis expressing our solidarity with the suffering people and call for action by the international community to end humanitarian crisis in the Middle East at the earliest.

We pray fervently for the peace and religious tolerance in the world especially Syria.

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