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Thursday, June 4, 2009

UK Human Rights Group Launches ‘Inclusive India’ Campaign, As Dalit Woman Speaker Appointed

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

LONDON, UK (ANS) -- UK-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has launched “Inclusive India,” to urge the Indian government and international stakeholders to focus afresh on the rights of India’s marginalized minorities. The launch coincides with the appointment of Meira Kumar, a Dalit, as India’s first woman Speaker of Parliament.

Meira Kumar

CSW says that “Inclusive India” recognizes that “there is much to celebrate about India” but warns that “tens of millions of her citizens suffer severe social exclusion, whether because of their caste, tribe, or religion.”

It will run until the Commonwealth Games in October 2010, to be held in Delhi, and will call for justice for victims of religiously-motivated violence, for an end to discrimination based on caste, for reform of unfair legislation, and for foreign corporate investors to engage with minority issues.

The campaign launch also comes after news of fresh attacks in Kandhamal district, Orissa, the scene of widespread anti-Christian violence in 2008. On May 31, 2009, three more houses of Christians were burnt down. A case has been filed, but police reportedly pressurized the victims to remove the name of the alleged leader of the attack, Mr. Dilu Mohanty. He had previously been accused of several murders during the 2008 attacks, but has never been arrested.

Dr John Dayal, a member of the government’s National Integration Council and Secretary General of CSW partners, the All India Christian Council (aicc), said: “I take great pride in being a citizen of India, the world’s largest democracy and a leader in the South Asian region. However, I long to belong to a society in which religious and caste identity have no bearing on one’s prospects and on how one is treated. The election results and the newly-formed government offer India an opportunity to re-affirm her commitment to justice, religious freedom and equality.”

CSW’s Advocacy Director, Alexa Papadouris said: “Meira Kumar’s appointment is a boost to the erosion of identity-based discrimination in India. She follows the late former President, K.R. Narayanan, and the current Chief Justice, as a very important figurehead for India’s Dalit population. However, our ‘Inclusive India’ campaign highlights the need for an impact to be made at the grassroots level. We begin by focusing on justice in cases of religiously-motivated violence. The urgency of this is demonstrated by the recent attacks in Orissa, reportedly led by a man who should have been investigated already for his role in last year’s violence. We urge India’s newly-formed government to put justice for victimized minorities at the very heart of their agenda.”

CSW is a human rights organization which specializes in religious freedom, works on behalf of those persecuted for their Christian beliefs and promotes religious liberty for all. Its website can be found at www.csw.org.uk

Notes to Editors from CSW:

1. In 2008, Orissa saw the worst outbreak of communal violence against Christians in the history of post-Independence India, which included forcible conversions to Hinduism. The violence was sparked by the assassination by unknown assailants of Swami Lakhmananda Saraswati, local figurehead of the extremist Hindu nationalist group, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), on 23 August 2008, and resulted in the deaths of at least 70. At least 50,000 were forced to flee their homes, amidst widespread destruction of property and churches.

2. “Inclusive India” -- www.inclusiveindia.org.uk -- is a campaign launched by Christian Solidarity Worldwide in support of India’s minorities.


Dan Wooding, 68, is an award winning British journalist now living in Southern California with his wife Norma of 45 years. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS); and US Bureau Chief for the Missionaries News Service (www.missionariesnews.tv) and Safe Worlds IPTV’s Faith, Hope and Charity channel. He was, for ten years, a commentator, on the UPI Radio Network in Washington, DC., and now hosts the weekly "Front Page Radio" show on KWVE in Southern California and which is also carried on the Calvary Radio Network throughout the United States. The program is also aired in Great Britain on UCB UK and Calvary Chapel Radio UK. Wooding is the author of some 42 books, the latest of which is his autobiography, "From Tabloid to Truth", which is published by Theatron Books. To order a copy, go to www.fromtabloidtotruth.com. E-mail: danjuma1@aol.com.

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