- Memorial services for the victims of the Kandhamal riots in Odisha this Saturday
- ADF India successfully litigated close to 200 cases holding perpetrators to account
New Delhi (24 August 2018) – Tomorrow, 25 August 2018, will mark the tenth anniversary of the fundamentalist riots in Odisha, India. Hundreds of Christians were forced out of their villages, beaten, raped, and killed while their churches, schools, and homes burned. Rioters attacked Christians, wrongly accused, to avenge the murder of a prominent member of the Hindu-movement.
“Nobody should be persecuted because of their faith. The riots in Kandhamal, Odisha mark a sad chapter of Indian history. Hindu-extremists turned against their fellow citizens simply because they were Christian. It took us years to finally hold the perpetrators to account and many of the victims still wait for justice,” said Tehmina Arora, Director of ADF India, who along with a group of allied lawyers, litigated many of the Kandhamal cases pro bono.
This week we remember those killed and persecuted because of their faith. Let us never forget the price they and their families had to pay.
“This week we remember those killed and persecuted because of their faith. Let us never forget the price they and their families had to pay. We owe them. Like these martyrs we need to stand firm and challenge the oppression that Christians, Muslims, and other religious minorities experience everyday in India and around the world. Kandhamal was not an isolated event. It marked the beginning of the persecution we face today.”
Hostility against minorities
The plight of religious minorities in India is far from over. India was ranked number one when it comes to countries with high social hostility against religious groups, by the most recent 2016 Pew Research Center report. In India, Christians, Muslims and other religious minorities face the highest hostility.
The United Christian Forum toll-free helpline has reported more than 600 cases of attacks on Christians since 2014. Last year alone, saw over 200 incidents reported.
In addition, eight states in India have anti-conversion laws in effect, including two states that have adopted them in the past year. These so-called “Freedom of Religion” Acts aim to prevent Hindus from converting to Christianity or Islam. Conversions based on force, fraud, or inducement are in theory prohibited but on vague terms. In practice this means that conversions are banned whenever the local authorities object.
“Churches already fear crackdowns from the authorities because of the strict requirements of anti-conversion laws. These laws also fuel aggression by Hindu-fundamentalists against minority groups. The government and the international community need to wake up to what is happening here in India,” Arora said.