03/15/2012, 00.00
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Tamil Nadu, new Church and fishermen protests against the Koodankulam nuclear plant

by Nirmala Carvalho
The fishermen also want to unfreeze the bank accounts of the diocesan NGO run by Msgr. Yvon Ambroise, Bishop of Tuticorin. The government stops all funds, accusing them of finance anti-nuclear demonstrations with foreign money. The bishop sends a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to seek to resolve the situation.

Chennai (AsiaNews) - Since this morning, fishermen and activists of Tamil Nadu are again protesting against the construction of the Koodankulam nuclear plant. This was confirmed toAsiaNews by Fr. William Santhanam, diocesan spokesman for the NGO Tuticorin: "Today no one in Tamil Nadu went out to sea. All fishermen are here." The fishing community had announced the new demonstrations on 12 March, to commemorate the Fukushima nuclear disaster and ask the government to unfreeze the accounts of the Tuticorin Diocesan Association and Tuticorin Multipurpose Social Service Society, two of the four NGOs charged with illicit funding. Both NGOs are led by Msgr. Yvon Ambroise, Bishop of Tuticorin.

A few days ago, the bishop sent a personal letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in which he explained that the diocese and its services are not involved in these protests, and that the issue should be resolved between the government and population. In this memorandum, followed by an appeal of the Episcopal Conference of Tamil Nadu, he urges the central government to "stop harassing Christians and withdraw the negative comments against the Diocese of Tuticorin."

Fr. William minimizes the utterances of the primate as a "pure opinion", because "the Anglican Bishop of Tuticorin is in full compliance with Msgr. Yvon Ambroise and continues to lend his moral support."

On 11 September 2011, more than 127 people from the village of Idinthakarai began to fast in protest. After 12 days, the people stopped the hunger strike after the promise (never kept) of J. Jayalitha, chief minister of the State, to stop the project. At that time, the fishermen had asked the Church's solidarity with their cause, granted by Msgr. Ambroise. "The people involved the diocese - said Fr. Santharam - not the contrary. If the population fears for their safety and survival, the bishop has no other choice but to share their concerns."




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