Friday, March 20, 2015

Christian human rights body leads protest against "sharp rise" in attack on minorities, women

By Our Representative
A dharna organised by the Gujarat United Christian Forum for Human Rights (GUCFHR), and supported the well-known civil rights group Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties, and top human rights activist Teesta Setalvad-led Citizens for Justice and Peace, has taken strong exception to "derogatory remarks" against members of the minority community by those close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Well-attended, the dharna in Ahmedabad was believed to be "rare", as after a long period young and old, poor and rich, slums dwellers and villagers, Hindus and Muslims, Jains and Buddhists, Parsis and Christians came together for the protest..
A statement issued by the organizers soon after the dharna said, "In spite of their differences, they were together with one voice: ‘Enough is Enough!’ ‘Stop the Attacks on women, minorities, adivasis, dalits, farmers, poor and other vulnerable sections!’ ‘Protect and Promote Constitutional Rights!’"
A handout distributed on the occasion said, “Almost daily, we read about assaults, molestations and rapes of women. A normal society will never be able to accept the brutal rape of a six year old girl child in Ahmedabad or the barbaric gang-rape of a seventy-two year old nun in West Bengal. Yogi Adityanath’s men telling Hindus to rape dead Muslim women is sick to the core! Women today from all walks of life feel more and more insecure."
It added, "The attacks on minorities take place today with frightening regularity. Ministers of the Government of India and MPs make the most derogatory remarks against Christians and Muslims; they do so with impunity and immunity. Attacks on Christian institutions, Church personnel and the desecration of what is sacred to the Christians seem to happen all the time."
The handout further said, "Minorities are systematically denigrated with a highly placed politician even going on record to say that ‘Mosques and Churches are mere buildings’; besides, the divisive ‘ghar wapsi’ programmes; the insidious remarks to make ‘Gita’ as the country’s national book; the attempts to take away the ‘secular’ dimension from the Constitution are all areas of concern for large sections of India’s population.”
Among the speakers were Archbishop Stanislaus Fernandes sj of Gandhinagar, Bishop Silvans Christian of the CNI, Gujarat, Bishop Thomas Macwan of Ahmedabad, Fr. Francis Parmar, the Provincial Superior of the Gujarat Jesuits, senior High Court advocate Girish Patel, women activists Sophia Khan , Meenakshi Joshi, Sara Baltiwala and Sheba George.

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