'Great human rights tragedy': Congressmen shocked
Ahmedabad: Joseph Pitts, a member of the House International Relations Committee, and the other Congressmen expressed shock over the degree of overt persecution against Christians occurring across India and similar attacks against Muslims.
From left: Congressmen Todd Akin, Steve Chabot, Trent Franks (in background) and Joseph Pitts.
(Photo courtesy: Jubilee Campaign)
With Pitts in the delegation were Reps. Trent Franks, Todd Akin, and Steve Chabot.
"We are really touched by the suffering of the Christian and Muslim minorities at the hands of Hindu extremists here," Pitts said during the delegation's weeklong tour in India at the invitation of All India Christian Council and the international religious liberty organization Jubilee Campaign.
After hearing from people representing various communities about the fears of minority Christians and Muslims in India, Pitts promised they would bring the issue to the attention of the Bush administration in the formulation of U.S. policy toward India.
According to tallies from police records, the number of attacks on Christians rose from seven in 1996 to 380 in 2003. Unofficial estimates put the figure at 600 for 2003. At least 4,000 cases are pending in India's courts involving attacks against Christians. Direct threats and even murders, mob violence, ransacking of churches and burning of Bibles have been used to intimidate Christian outreach in India. Extremist violence has been particularly heavy in the Indian states of Gujarat, Orissa, Karnataka and Chattisgarh.
Pitts said the Congressional delegation's report will address "anti-conversion laws, status of Dalit Christians [or 'untouchables'] and the anti-minority violence in India."
"We learned about the Dalits, 250 million people who are suffering in almost indescribable, inhumane ways. This is a great human rights tragedy,.” Pitts said. "Most rioters and killers of minority Christians and Muslims were still at large," the congressman added.
The delegation visited a site in Gujarat where Hindu extremists in 2002 burned to death 42 Muslims, including a member of Parliament, Ehsan Jaffrey.
Chabot from Ohio, who had visited strife-torn Rwanda as part of another delegation, said the massacre in Gujarat was probably more gruesome than in the African nation. "Though the numbers vary hugely, the degree of violence ... is highly disturbing," he said.
Samson Christian, general secretary of the All India Christian Council, told the delegation, "On last Sunday in Pareva village about 65 miles from here, loudspeakers were used by extremists who propagated hatred against Christians. Authorities didn't move a finger."
(BP, 5 Feb. 04).
For full version of this report visit: http://www.sbcbaptistpress.org/bpnews.asp?ID=17576
to the PRINT edition NOW: Get the COMPLETE picture
pages, Twice a month
Delivered at your doorstep