Relaymedia

India Peace Rally to Coincide with PM's U.S. Visit

( [email protected] ) Sep 24, 2008 12:24 PM EDT
A rally and prayer vigil to demand a stop to religious violence against Christians in India will take place in front of the White House Thursday to coincide with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit.
Christians participate in a rally organized by Gujarat United Christian Forum for Human Rights to oppose attacks on Christians in Orissa, in Ahmadabad, India, Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2008. An Indian archbishop filed a petition in the Supreme Court on Tuesday requesting an impartial probe into recent Hindu-Christian violence in eastern India that has killed at least 11 people, a news report said. The trouble erupted late last month with the killing of a Hindu leader in Orissa, which police blamed on Maoist rebels but Hindu activists blamed on Christian militants. (Photo: AP/Ajit Solanki)

A rally and prayer vigil to demand a stop to religious violence against Christians in India will take place in front of the White House Thursday to coincide with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit.

Jubilee Campaign, an advocacy group for persecuted religious minorities, and International Christian Concern will host the India Peace Rally at Lafayette Park across from the White House.

The groups will share updates on the violence against Christians in India and invite participants to pray for justice for the persecuted.

Since mid-August, Hindu militants have attacked Christians, burning down their homes, businesses, churches, and orphanages. The violence, which began in the remote eastern state of Orissa, has now spread to four states in India.

Tens of thousands of Christians are said to be forced from their homes by the violence. These now homeless Christians are taking refuge in government buildings, where many are not even provided a blanket, or are hiding out in the jungle.

A conservative estimate says some 20 people, mostly Christians, have died in the rampages over the past month.

The outbreak of anti-Christian violence in India is thought to be the worst in the country’s 60 years of independence.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent, bipartisan federal agency advising the Administration and Congress, urged President Bush in a letter last Friday to raise concerns about religious freedom in India during his upcoming meeting with the Indian prime minister.

“The Indian government’s response to the egregious violence in Orissa remains inadequate,” stated USCIRF chair Felice D. Gaer.

“If India is to exercise global leadership as the largest and perhaps most pluralistic democracy in the world, Prime Minister Singh should demonstrate his government’s commitment to uphold the basic human rights obligations to which it has agreed, including the protection of religious minorities,” she said.

USCIRF has called for India’s federal government to hold all state governments accountable for violence and other unlawful acts that take place in their states.