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BREAKING: European Parliament calls for an end to violence in Manipur/India

BREAKING: European Parliament calls for an end to violence in Manipur/India

  • Large majority: The European Parliament adopted an urgency resolution calling for the government of India to address the ongoing chaos and violence in Manipur.  
  • ADF International is actively engaged in efforts to protect religious freedom worldwide and welcomes the resolution. 

Brussels (13 July 2023) – In an urgency resolution the European Parliament has called for the government of India to “take urgent steps to restore calm” in the midst of a tribal and religious crisis unfolding in Manipur. The resolution comes in response to a violent clash that erupted in May due to an ongoing conflict between Manipur’s largely Hindu Meitei and largely Christian Kuki tribes. At least 120 have died, 50,000 have been displaced, and over 1,700 homes and 250 churches have been destroyed.  

The resolution, adopted by a large majority, also calls for the Indian government “to tackle the impunity enjoyed by mobs perpetrating the violence and respond to stem the violence in line with their international human rights obligations”. Human rights advocates have long called attention to the dire state of human rights in India, including laws and policies that severely restrict the liberties of minority religious groups, in addition to allowing their targeted harassment by radical mobs.  

Targeted harassment by radical mobs 

“ADF International welcomes the European Parliament resolution on Manipur and joins the EU to call for urgent action to restore calm and ensure an inclusive dialogue with the participation of civil society and affected communities as the way out of the crisis,” said Adina Portaru, senior counsel for ADF International in Brussels, which is actively engaged in efforts to protect religious freedom worldwide.   

Portaru continued, saying “The ongoing religious freedom crisis we are seeing throughout India has erupted into violent destruction and chaos in Manipur. It’s long past time for India to not only address the situation in Manipur, but also it must eradicate any laws and policies that obstruct freedom of religion. Our prayers are with the people of India”.  

“Attacks against Christians are not isolated incidents” 

MEP Miriam Lexmann from the EPP said during the debate prior to the resolution: “While Indian officials often like to boast that the country is the world’s largest democracy, intolerance and violence against religious minorities paint a different picture. These attacks against Christians are not isolated incidents. They are organized, leaving behind destruction and shattered lives. The European Union cannot close its eyes to these crimes.”   

MEP Ladislav Ilčić (ECR) stressed: “Our message must be clear: we will not turn our heads away from violence, and we will not turn our backs on persecuted Christians.”   

Background: large scale violence and persecution in Manipur 

From May 3rd to May 6th, large scale violence, looting and arson resulted in the loss of at least 120 lives, over 400 people injured, and left tens of thousands displaced from their homes in Manipur. The clash was a result of an ongoing conflict between Manipur’s largely Hindu Meitei and largely Christian Kuki tribes, although the minority of Meiteis who are Christian have also been targeted. 

Religious symbols and places of worship were heavily targeted, with reports showing that over 250 churches were burned down or damaged. The state government failed to contain and subdue the violent situation in Manipur; the military was only deployed a few days after the first riots to prevent further violence and destruction. For the most part, it is aid organizations and volunteers who are assisting the victims on the ground, where the violence is continuing today. The government has offered small compensation to those whose family members have been killed by the violence, but no compensation offers have been made for those who have lost their homes, businesses, or have been injured during the violent attacks.     

“In many cases, the mob has burned a church or house belonging to a Meitei Christian but has not damaged their neighbor’s door if they are not a Christian. Christians are facing hostility by the Meiteis on the basis that they are Christians,” explained a human rights lawyer and ally of ADF International, who is setting up emergency hotlines on the ground to offer help to those affected. The lawyer, whose name has been withheld for safety purposes, continued: “The people are deeply shocked. Through our work, we want to help stop the violence in Manipur, protect religious institutions, allow Christians to practice their faith freely and facilitate compensation for survivors”. 

Religious Freedom Crisis in India 

Religious freedom conditions in India have worsened in recent years. Laws at the local, state, and national levels, including anti-conversion laws, are discriminatory towards religious minorities, and contribute to a culture of unrest. These laws implicitly encourage mobs and vigilante groups to carry out violent campaigns, like those seen in Manipur and at the Broadwell Christian Hospital in Uttar Pradesh.   

Laws like the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and Sedition Act target religious freedom and expression. These laws suppress voices advocating for religious freedom through surveillance, harassment, demolition of property, and detention. Under these laws, many lawyers, journalists, and religious minorities have been harassed, detained, and prosecuted.    

International religious freedom advocates continually have spoken out against the egregious and severe violations of religious freedom in India.

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