In our continued work to speak out on behalf of the persecuted Christians in India, we filed a written submission through our European affiliate, the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), to the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) urging immediate action.
As my wife, Anna Sekulow, told you recently, Christians in India are facing targeted harassment and violent persecution. She recounted a story of Christians who were attacked by a mob, and then to add insult to injury, instead of receiving help from the police, they were told they could either leave the village or convert to Hinduism.
The fact that a U.N. member state would allow such an ultimatum to be put on its own people is outrageous. Now, we have made the UNHRC aware of this travesty.
As we stated in our report:
In July 2020, Hindu village leaders in the Latehar District met to determine what should be done to Christian villagers who refused to renounce their faith. At this meeting, the leaders determined that if Christians refused to renounce their faith and convert to Hinduism, they would be forced out of the villages. When six Christian families in the village did just that, they were brutally attacked and beaten by a radical mob of Hindus. After this attack, instead of protecting and assisting the families, the police also ordered the six Christian families to either renounce their faith or flee the town, giving them one month to comply. Joginder Bhuya, one of the victims, described the attack saying: “They tied our hands and legs with rope . . . . All the men’s hands and legs were tied with the rope. That way they might have thought we cannot defend ourselves. They also misbehaved with our women and kicked them all over their body. They punched us on our faces and back. It was a very pathetic and helpless situation for us”.
Sadly, these stories of persecution are becoming all too common within India. According to one report by Evangelical Fellowship of India, there have already been 135 cases of persecution against Christians within India during the first six months of 2020. We detailed some of these instances to the U.N.:
For example, on 21 June 2020, Christian Pastor Rao was attacked while praying for a sick person in Kolonguda village. Around 9:30 am, Pastor Rao arrived at the sick person’s house to pray with them. Shortly thereafter, a mob of 150 individuals surrounded the house claiming that “India is a Hindu nation, and there is no place for Christians”. The mob then proceeded to break into the house and drag the Pastor into the streets where they beat him. Pastor Rao, who survived the attack, described the incident:
“They dragged me into the street and pushed me to the ground. There, they started to trample on me. They tore my clothes, kicked me all over my body, and punched my left eye. I have sustained a serious eye injury as a result of a blood clot”.
It is critical that the UNHRC work with the government of India to ensure that Christians are protected and don’t have to live with the fear that they may be attacked simply because of their religion.
It is imperative that the U.N take swift action by calling on the government of India to ensure that the targeting of Christians in India is stopped. Government action must be taken to ensure that all of India’s citizens are allowed to peacefully live out their religious beliefs without fear of civil or government action against them. No one should have to live under the fear of being abused, targeted, or even killed simply because of their faith.
Shortly after filing this written submission at the U.N., we also presented an oral intervention at the UNHRC in Geneva, Switzerland, detailing more about the plight of these persecuted Christians in India. Earlier this month, our team stood before the Human Rights Council and stated:
India is a majority Hindu nation, with over 80% of the population practicing Hinduism. Practitioners of Islam are the second largest religious group at 13% and Christianity is practiced by only 2.3%.
Although India’s constitution assures religious freedom, India is experiencing an escalation of religiously motivated hostility and violence that targets Christians and other religious minorities in contradiction with the Vienna Declaration. This hostility can be seen at both the civil and governmental levels and is a growing threat.
To date, India has made no indication that it is willing to act to protect all of its citizens and to stop the atrocities that Christians are facing.
For example, in July 2020, Hindu village leaders in the Latehar District met to determine what should be done to Christian villagers who refused to renounce their faith. At this meeting, the leaders determined that if Christians refused to renounce their faith and convert to Hinduism, they would be forced out of the villages. When six Christian families in the village did just that, they were brutally attacked and beaten by a radical mob of Hindus. After this attack, instead of protecting and assisting the families, the police also ordered the six Christian families to either renounce their faith or flee the town, giving them one month to comply.
Clearly, these hostile acts targeting Indian Christians are violating their right to freely practice their faith. India must act now to address the harassment and the obvious attempt to root out Christianity from its culture.
Meaningful action must be taken now, or the situation will worsen.
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