Orissa attacks are 'religious genocide', says ministry leader

The persistent and vicious attacks against Christians in India are "religious genocide", says one Christian ministry leader fresh from a visit to the persecution hotspot of Orissa state.

"This has been a religious genocide according to the UN definition of genocide, where persistently and systematically it is planned and not stopped," maintains Ramesh Landge, founder and director of Cooperative Outreach of India (COI), according to Mission Network News.

"It falls in that category of genocide, and we do agree with that."

Landge, whose ministry works with US-based Partners International, has been visiting the eastern state of Orissa, where the anti-Christian campaign is most fierce, to help the displaced Christians there.

More than 50,000 Christians have been displaced by the violence, and 30,000 of them live in relief camps while others hide in the jungles.

Since mid-August, over 4,000 Christian homes, churches and businesses have been destroyed by Hindu militant mobs. The number killed in the clashes, overwhelmingly Christian, range from 40 to nearly 100 depending on the source.

"There has been a lot of intimidation. There has been a lot of persecution. People have not been able to go back [to their homes]," Landge said. "If they do go back, the Hindu fundamentalists parties want them to reconvert."

But the ministry leader readily emphasised that although Christians have been suffering they have not renounced their faith and are continuing to stand strong as followers of Jesus Christ.

"This is the very first time in Indian history that such a long onslaught against Christians has taken place, and in a sustained way," he observed. "In a way, the government was part of it. They never tried to stop it. They were just silent spectators."

The global ministry Partners International, which supports local Christian ministries in the least Christian regions of the world, is trying to help provide relief items to the displaced, especially since winter is nearing, Landge informed.

He asks Christians elsewhere to help by praying for those being persecuted, advocating on their behalf in their respective countries, and donating to help physically ease the suffering of those being persecuted.