Posted by: janpierce | March 15, 2010

Updates on Persecution in Orissa

    I just wrote an article on the persecutions in Orissa that began in 2007, crescendoed in 2008 and are still happening today. The worst violence and bloodshed occurred in August of 2008 when a Hindu Swami who some believed to be a champion of the poor was assassinated by Naxilites (Maoist groups). Christians were blamed for the killing, thus sending poor tribal people and Hindu extremists on an eight day rampage in which hundreds were murdered, and thousands were displaced. Churches and homes of Christians were firebombed, people were killed in the most primitive of ways with axes, knives and trisuls (a three-pronged weapon) and some were burned to death.  Terrified believers hid in jungles during the riots but returned home to find all their possessions in ruin. Thousands lived in relief camps set up by the government and some of those camps still exist. Many believers have left the state hoping to find new lives in neighboring areas. Others live quietly, not worshiping publicly and still others have renounced their faith so they could return to their jobs. There are still today roving bands of Hindu thugs who confront Christians and force them to go through renunciation rites in which they sign a paper saying they no longer follow Jesus but are returning to their Hindu roots. There is a non-conversion law on the books of Orissa, so legally it is against the law to try to share the Gospel and ask people to become Christians. Although there is a new government in power who promise to protect Christians, they often do not feel safe at all. In the recent research I did for the article I found Hindu bloggers talking about “Christian goons” who steal the land and take the money of the people.

The pictures here are from Orissa just after the 2008 violence. A group of volunteers from the Hyderabad area went to distribute food, clothing, school supplies and fees, and give encouragement to the victims in Orissa. These are remote areas. The women with the tattooed faces are tribal women who had become Christian. It’s a good reminder to us that much of the world pays a high price for its faith.

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