India (MNN) — A rally demanding an end to violence against Christians
in India will greet that country's Prime Minister when he visits Washington.
At the same time, the
United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) wants
President George W. Bush to raise concerns about religious freedom in India
during Ambassador Ronen Sen's visit.
A recent fact-finding report estimates that over 50,000
people have been rendered homeless due to the violence. Around 13,000 people
are in the relief camps at Chakapada, Tikabali, G. Udaygiri, Raikia, Baliguda,
K.Nuagoan and Phiringia. Many others continue to hide in the forest and
Four Non Government Organizations (NGOs) were also attacked. Projects from World Vision in Kalahandi
District, the Discipleship Center in Bhadrak District, Action Ministries'
office in Bhubaneswar and the Compassion East India offices all suffered damage
from militant extremists.
Although it was hoped that weeks later, the violence would have settled,
clashes have been ongoing and deadly, prompting the European Union to call it a "humanitarian emergency."
Lindsay Vessey, advocacy coordinator with Open Doors, says they're adding
their voice, too. "We're focusing
on an advocacy campaign, trying to bring this issue of the violence to the
federal government's attention. We're asking our supporters to e-mail the Indian
ambassador to the U.S. We're asking him basically to look into protecting the Christian minority in Orissa."
Open Doors is asking Ambassador Sen to provide adequate protection for
Christians in Orissa and to ensure justice and compensation to the victims of
the violent attacks.
Some ministry is still taking place, but Vessey says, "It probably has made it very difficult
for people to engage in evangelism. Many thousands of people are hiding in
refugee camps right now. They're displaced, their homes have been either
burned down, or there are fanatics in the villages waiting to kill any
Christians who return."