Rohingyas: Statement on the Human Rights of Stateless People

In the light of the plight of the Rohingya people, all churches are hereby reminded of the Statement on the Human Rights of Stateless People adopted by the WCC 10th Assembly as part of the Report of the Public Issues Committee  adopted by the WCC 10th Assembly as part of the Report of the Public Issues Committee. Please take special note of the last section of the statement. May we all stand up for our commitment to just and inclusive communities!

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad,

General Secretary, NCCI

Statement on the Human Rights of Stateless People

Adopted by the WCC 10th Assembly as part of the Report of the Public Issues Committee.

Nationality is a fundamental human right which is affirmed in article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is a foundation of identity, human dignity, and security. Nationality is an essential prerequisite to the enjoyment and protection of the full range of human rights.

Currently, there are more than ten million people around the world who live without any nationality: they are stateless people. Most of these stateless people have not left their country of origin.

Statelessness can occur for a number of reasons. Some relate to technical aspects of nationality laws and procedures for acquisition of documents which prove nationality. More often, however, the cause is discrimination. Minorities are often arbitrarily excluded from citizenship due to discrimination on racial, ethnic, religious or linguistic grounds.

This kind of discrimination in the nationality law has rendered stateless more than 800,000 Rohingya, an ethnic Muslim minority living in Rakhine State, despite their ties to Myanmar that date back centuries. Over the past 30 years, the Rohingya have been subjected to widespread discrimination including the denial of citizenship, denial of freedom of movement and the right to marry. They have suffered forced labour and detention. As a result of discriminatory conditions inside the country, more than 200,000 Rohingya have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh, though fewer than 30,000 are officially recognized as refugees. Most unregistered Rohingya live in unofficial makeshift refugee settlements, where shelters are falling apart, and malnutrition is widespread. In spite of these conditions, aid agencies have sometimes been denied permission to assist unregistered refugees. Without residence or work permits, unregistered refugees live in fear of detention and forced repatriation to Myanmar. The lack of documentation also makes Rohingya women and girls particularly vulnerable to physical attacks, sexual violence and trafficking. Rohingya populations are also found in the Gulf countries and many have made the perilous sea journey to other countries in Asia – or have died trying.

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Memorandum submitted to the Governor of Jharkhand to repeal the proposed religious freedom bill and the amendments to the land acquisition bill.

 

 

 

Bishop Johan Dang (Moderator, GEL Church), Bishop Dular Lakra (NWGEL Church), Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad (General Secretary, NCCI), Mr. Pradip Bansrior (Executive Secretary, Dalit & Tribal / Adivasi Concerns, NCCI), Mr. Joy Tudu (Secretary, Santalia Council of Churches), Rev. Arun Barwa (Secretary, Jharkhand Council of Churches), and Rev. Ashisan Bage (Women Representative).

These leaders submitted a memorandum to the Governor of Jharkhand to repeal the proposed religious freedom bill and the amendments to the land acquisition bill.

 

Text of the memorandum:

To

Her Excellency,

Shrimati Draupadi Murmu

Governor of Jharkhand

Raj Bhawan, Ranchi – 834001

Jharkhand

Subject: An appeal to Repeal the Jharkhand Freedom of Religion Bill2017 and Jharkhand Right to Fair Compensationand Transparency in land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Ammendment) Bill 2017by the Jharkhand Vidhan Sabha on 12th August 2017.

Honorable Governor Shrimati Draupadi Murmu,

We, as citizens of India and on behalf of National Council of Churches in India, Jharkhand Council of Churches and Santalia Council of Churches bring our greetings of respect, love and joy to you. The Jharkhand assembly on 12th August 2017 passed the Jharkhand Freedom of Religion Bill2017 and Jharkhand Right to Fair Compensationand Transparency in land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Ammendment) Bill 2017 brought by the BJP-led government. During the debate on Religious Freedom Bill 2017in theassembly, a figure was presented by the BJP led government, which states that in 2011 there were 10,90,283 Christians in Jharkhand which rose to 14,18,783 in 2017 which means in the last five years an increase of 30 percent in the population of Christian religion. According to Indian government census report it was 4.1 percent of the population who accepted Christianity in 1951 in Jharkhand, which rose 4.3 percent in 2011, i.e. an increase of just 0.2 percent of the population of Christians in 70 years. Your Excellencyan increase of30 percents in just five years is just impossible; it is only a politically motivated inflated figure.In India, as per the government census the Christian population in the country was 2.33 per cent in 1951; 2.44 in 1961; 2.60 in 1971; 2.44 in 1981; 2.32 in 1991; 2.34 in 2001 and 2.30 in 2011. The growth rate is almost static. Jharkhand has the same kind of scenario too. Though the State was formed in 2000, yet for a larger picture the Christian population was 4.12 in 1951; 4.17 in 1961; 4.35 in 1971; 3.99 in 1981; 3.72 in 1991; 4.10 in 2001 and 4.30 in 2011. Here too the growth rate is stagnant. The census occurs once in every ten years. How could the Jharkhand government introduce its figure on Christian population percentage to the assembly? The BJP led government has misled the assembly by introducing fake figures. Is this not a travesty of democracy?

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Independence Day 2017 – Open letter to The Prime Minister of India

To,
Shri Narendra Modi,
The Prime Minister of India.

Dear Prime Minister,

Greetings!

On Good Friday 14th April 2017 (The Day commemorating the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, instigated by the communal minded right wing religious and political leaders of the time), I had written an open letter to you expressing my concern as an Indian citizen about the state of affairs in the country. Perhaps you were too busy to respond to that letter or you thought it unnecessary to respond to an ordinary Indian citizen’s mann ki baat (which I could not transmit on national communication systems).

This time I write to you as an Indian spiritual seeker of God’s reign of justice, love and peace in our beloved country India.  As all Indians go on to celebrate Independence day on 15th August 2017, and as we keep on hearing statements which stereotype Christians as being aliens or as being people whose patriotism is questioned, I would like to draw your attention to a very strong statement (with my added emphasis) made on “Church and State in Post-War India” by the National Council of Churches in India (an ecumenical body of Indian Protestant and Orthodox Tradition churches representing around 14 million Christians today) in its Council meeting in 1944[1]:

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NCCI letter to Prime Minister of India

August 3, 2017

To,

Shri Narendra Modi,
Honourable Prime Minster of India.

Dear Prime Minister,

Greetings to you from the National Council of Churches in India!

Your good self and indeed all the citizens of the country are well aware of the phenomenon of minority targeted violence in the country. In the long list of such occurrences, we mention just a few recent incidents:

  • Ainul Ansari attacked in Jharkhand on suspicion that he was taking beef to an Iftaar gathering in June 2017.
  • Junaid Khan stabbed to death by a mob in a train on the eve of Id in Ballagarh in June, 2017.
  • Alimuddin Ansari lynched in Jharkhand on suspicion of carrying beef in June 2017.
  • Sultan Masih, a Christian pastor was killed in Punjab on 15th July, 2017 and the culprits have not yet been arrested.
  • In Goa, incidents of desecration of Holy Crosses and Graves are happening very frequently in places such as Curtoriam, Chandor, Gudi- Paroda and Churchorem in South Goa. The atmosphere in Goa is communalized and the Christian and Muslim communities are facing serious discrimination and threat.

We are deeply disturbed about the various expressions of vigilantism in different parts of our Country. We strongly condemn incidents of lynching and mob violence, particularly against Muslims and Dalits. In fact minority communities are experiencing horrendous forms of Symbolic, Structural and Physical violence. Such occurrences not only corrode the secular ethos of   our Country but also tarnish the name of India in the international sphere.  On the one hand while we are boasting about our technological and economic development, our record in human relational secular development is not so laudable.

What makes us feel so exasperated is that the State and Central Governments are not taking severe action against the different expressions of vigilantism. Mere words of condemnation are not enough. We are horrified that various states are bringing severe anti cow slaughter acts where as there is so much reluctance to bring in anti lynching / mob violence acts and to implement them. Unfortunately, because of the link of vigilantes with political parties and cultural originations, state mechanisms are afraid to take action against them.  Some of our national leaders keeping asserting that “law and order” is a state subject; nevertheless the Centre needs to pressurize the states to act. Since governance of the country in our times revolves around you, we strongly urge you to bring in a new act to address the present situation or execute severe action against perpetrators of violence using the existing laws.

At the same time the churches are deeply pained about the killing of 7 Amarnath Yatra Pilgims by terrorists. We urge you to provide more security to the pilgrims and bring the culprits to the law.

Therefore we call upon you to take effective positive steps for the inclusive multi-dimensional development of all the communities in our beloved country, India.

We also assure you the Christian community continues to pray for the country and to contribute to its all round development.

Yours sincerely,

SD/-

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad,

General Secretary, NCCI.

Letter to Prime Minister of India | August 3, 2017 | Page 1 of 2

 

Letter to Prime Minister of India | August 3, 2017 | Page 2 of 2

 

NCCI Letter to President of India

August3, 2017

 

To,

Shri Ram Nath Kovind,
Honourable President of India.

Your Excellency,

Greetings to you from the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI)!

The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) represents 14 million Protestant and Orthodox Christians in the country. On behalf of the Council, we congratulate you for being elected as the 14th President of India. We pray that the God will grant you wisdom and health to lead our great country, India.

As a guardian of the Constitution, we expect and request you to safeguard the democratic secular republic character and ethos of the Constitution of India. We are glad that you have affirmed the diversity of our country in your inaugural address. At the same time, we urge you to ensure justice to, and the dignity and development of, marginalized communities in our country. As the President of India we also are hopeful that you will ensure that constitutional rights of minority communities are upheld and protected.

May your term as President of India be blessed by God so that your office could be a blessing to all citizens of the country!

Yours sincerely,

SD/-

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad
General Secretary, National Council of Churches in India.

 

Letter to President of India | August 3, 2017

 

NEICC letter to the Ministry of Law and Justice with reference to report no. 267 of the Law Commission of India.

North East India Christian Council (NEICC), a regional council of the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) has written a letter (see below) to Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Cabinet minister, Ministry of Law and Justice of the Government of India requesting not to bring amendments to the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973 as per proposal made by the Law Commission of India, namely, The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2017. This is with reference to Report no. 267 of the Law Commission of India dated March 2017.

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad, General Secretary of NCCI appreciates NEICC for the initiatives they are taking. Since it is important to communicate and make known our concerns, he urges Churches and councils to write on specific issues and concerns to corresponding authority bodies. Read more

Statement of United Christian Forum of North East India (UCFNEI) on the portrayal of Jesus as “demon”.

19th June, 2017.

The United Christian Forum of North East India (UCFNEI) takes serious objection to the portrayal of Jesus as “demon” in the Class 9 Hindi language text book published by the Gujarat State School Textbook Board (GSSTB). The 16th Chapter of the book entitled “Bharatiya Sanskriti me Guru-Shishya Sambandh” on page number 69 reads: “Is sambandh me „haivaan Issa‟ ka ek kathan sada smaraniya hai” (In this context, a statement by ‘demon Jesus’ is always memorable). These words in the text book have shocked and deeply hurt the sentiments of Christian Community and of all people who respect the religious beliefs of all the communities in the secular State. One fails to understand the wisdom behind such a derogatory depiction of Jesus, who is revered by Christians in India and all over the world, as their Saviour and by many others like Mahatma Gandhi as a religious leader. The UCFNEI notes with utmost pain such caricaturing of Jesus.

Apart from hurting the sentiments of the Christian Community, the said chapter grossly misrepresents the person of Jesus and provides erroneous information to children. The GSSTB, which should have taken trouble to provide correct historical information, has erred in executing its duty. One gets a feeling that it is a deliberate attempt to malign a minority group. This statement comes not from a fringe fundamentalist group but from an official body of the Government of Gujarat. We are shocked to see an official body of the State taking such a stand.

The UCFNEI strongly objects to such an attempt of the GSSTB and demands that the text book be immediately withdrawn. It also demands an apology from the GSSTB and from the Government of Gujarat to the Christian Community.

 

SD/-

FR. G.P. AMALRAJ
Deputy Secretary
North East India Regional Bishop Conference
On behalf of
THE MOST REV. BISHOP THOMAS PULLOPALLIL
President

SD/-

REV. R. LALNUNZIRA
Secretary
& Secretary
North East India Christian Council

SD/-

REV. DR. SOLOMON RONGPI
Vice President
& General Secretary
Council of Baptist Churches in North East India

SD/-

REV. ROLIANTHANG LALSIM
Joint Secretary
& Administrative Secretary
Presbyterian Church of India

UNITED CHRISTIAN FORUM NORTH EAST INDIA

Statement of UCFNEI on Jesus as Demon. pdf

Statement on Martial law in Mindanao (Philippines)

Coming from the Meeting of the Ecumenical Indigenous Peoples’ Network Reference Group (May 31, 2017 | Manila, Philippines)

We condemn the declaration of a state of martial law in the whole of Mindanao by the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s in response to the alleged terrorist attacks by the Islamic State-linked Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf in Marawi City. Current reports show that state security forces are intensifying its military operations in the whole island of Mindanao especially in Marawi City through indiscriminate aerial bombings, ground confrontations and clearing operations.

We equally express alarm that Martial Law in Mindanao further heightens current military abuses and excesses against the Indigenous Peoples there who aredefending their lands against extractives, energy projects and plantations, and militarization of their communities.

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NEICC Statement on Church unity, Social concerns and Religious harmony

STATEMENT OF THE FINDINGS OF
THE ONE DAY SEMINAR ORGANIZED BY
THE NORTH EAST INDIA CHRISTIAN COUNCIL
ON
 “CHURCH UNITY, SOCIAL CONCERNS AND RELIGIOUS HARMONY”

AT THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF INDIA,  KHATLA, AIZAWL, MIZORAM SYNOD, APRIL 19, 2017.

We, the ninety two participants, representing various Churches and Christian Organisations under the umbrella of NEICC, in the one day seminar organized by the NEICC on April 19, 2017, deliberated on the theme of the seminar through five paper presentations, viz,

  • “Problems and prospects of Church Unity”, presented by Rev. Dr. R. Zolawma
  • The Role of Theological Education in Church Unity”, presented by Rev. Dr. Kethozelhou Keyho
  • “Gender Inclusive participation in the Church’s Ministry”, presented by Mrs. Gloria Patricia Pohsna
  • “Church’s Role in Social Concern”, presented by Mr L. Meru
  • “Religious Harmony”, presented by Rev. Dr. B.J. Syiemlieh

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Request for Churches and Congregations to pray for the Supreme Court hearing on the 20th of April to uphold the rights of minorities as per the Constitution of India

Letter from The Synod of The Church of North India: Request for Churches and Congregations to pray for the Supreme Court hearing on the 20th of April to uphold the rights of minorities as per the Constitution of India.