An event organized by the World Evangelical Alliance on the sidelines of the Human Rights Council on September 19 at the UN on inter-ethnic violence in the state of Manipur in India reveals a crisis situation.
The human rights crisis and in particular violence against religious minorities in the state of Manipur in India was the subject of an event organized in Geneva on September 19 by the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) in partnership with a multi-faith coalition representing Christian, Muslim and Hindu organizations.
This conference organized on the sidelines of the session of the Human Rights Council received great attention since in just four days the round table clip has been viewed more than 20 times.
50 displaced and more than 000 churches burned or damaged
according to Evangelical Focus, the event began with a video presentation by attorney Nury Turkel of the Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in which he described the scale of the crisis in this region of India. He mentions 50 displaced people, nearly 000 deaths, numerous cases of sexual violence against women and more than 200 churches and two synagogues burned or damaged.
The American human rights lawyer says that in India, hate speech is used to justify atrocities and that the government chooses to control public speech. Recently four journalists who covered these incidents were notably prosecuted by the court.
Florence Lowe, founding president of the North American Manipur Tribal Association (NAMTA) who witnesses the dramatic situation on the ground, castigates a government which does not act. She claims that despite more than 6 complaints, the police do not take the victims' words into account. .
“Every day I get more and more angry at the inaction and utter ineptitude of the Indian government.”
Genocide against Indian Muslims
According to Hena Zuberi, director of advocacy for justice for all and co-chair of the India working group at the International Religious Freedom Roundtable, Hindu religious leaders are encouraging genocide against Indian Muslims in the region.
She explains that attacks against Indian Muslims always follow the same pattern: hate speech first creates a crowd movement in Muslim areas. The houses are then attacked while the police stand by and the Muslims are then blamed for the violence.
Women particularly targeted
Reem Alsalem, United Nations special rapporteur on violence against women and girls, describes violent attacks against women of all ages in Manipur, mainly for "religious and ethnic reasons". She adds that her office has requested information from the Indian government on the responses of law enforcement and the justice system.
Following the publication of the video of this roundtable, the director of the WEA Geneva office, Wissam al-Saliby, who was the moderator of the event, was attacked online. A falsified version of the clip was notably published as well as false information about him, indicating that he had been arrested in India on two occasions.
Thomas Schirrmacher, general secretary of the World Evangelical Alliance, expressed his “full support”.
The persecution of Christians in India
While the situation in Manipur is particularly critical, there is an overall increase in violence against Christians in India. According to a statement published on September 7 by the United Christian Forum, since January, 525 violent incidents against Christians have been recorded in 23 Indian states.
The report says there are currently 13 areas across the country where it is now unsafe to practice Christianity. Bastar and Kondagaon in Chhattisgarh, where there were 51 and 14 acts of violence against Christians respectively, came first.
Nearly 520 Christians have been detained in the country under the anti-conversion law this year while others have been denied access to water sources and sometimes even barred from collecting their own harvest.
The country is ranked 11th in the'World Index of Persecution of Christians 2023' from the NGO Portes Ouvertes. The organization says in its report that persecution has "significantly increased" since 2014 and says Christians, who often belong to the poorest castes in society, "experience severe violence" and "are considered second-class citizens ".
Camille Westphal Perrier
Image credit: Shutterstock / Talukdar David