Saturday, April 17, 2010


In India, Religious Violence Leaves Long Trail of Refugee Camps
By Ben Arnoldy
The Christian Science Monitor, April 15, 2010
"Many Christians displaced by deadly religious riots two years ago in the Indian state of Orissa remain in camps today, a delegation of German parliamentarians discovered this week, highlighting the enduring aftermath that often follows sporadic violence. 'We saw the miserable situation of people without proper homes and livelihood opportunities. Most of them are yet to be compensated adequately,' they said. In a press release cited here, they also noted that 'even after two years, police have not registered several complaints and justice is not done to the community. Only a few of the responsible have been convicted for the communal violence.' Two years, however, is relatively short compared with India's overall track record in reintegrating the victims of periodic religious rioting. Eight years after deadly riots in Gujarat, displaced Muslims remain in ghettos where religious aid groups have been accused of imposing Taliban-style rules. And Kashmiri Hindus remain in refugee camps outside Kashmir some two decades after being targeted in the Muslim-majority state. India prides itself as a religiously diverse, secular state -- and sometimes reacts defensively to international criticisms about the treatment of religious minorities. Last year, New Delhi denied entry visas to a United States government delegation tasked with monitoring religious freedom abroad.
'India is the only democracy to have blocked a visit by USCIRF [US Commission on International Religious Freedom], which had been requesting entry since 2001. More than 20 other countries, including Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia, have allowed the commission to enter,' wrote the Baptist Press. USCIRF designated India a 'country of particular concern' for several years after the 2002 anti-Muslims riots in Gujarat. Last year, the group once again put India on its watch list 'because the government's response at the state and local levels has been found to be largely inadequate and the national government has failed to take effective measures to ensure the rights of religious minorities in several states.' When the European Union sent a delegation in February to visit Christians in Orissa, a local Christian group charged state officials with clearing homeless Christians from an area hours before the visit. [...]"

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