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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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Open letter to The Prime Minister of India.

To

Shri Narendra Modi,
The Prime Minister of India

Dear Prime Minister,

Greetings!

Though a Christian pastor, and serving the National Council of Churches in India as its General Secretary, I am writing this open letter to you as an Indian citizen, joining all Indian citizens who are concerned about the state of affairs in our country, India

You have been giving the country very impressive slogans about its future, be it “Achhe Din!” or “New India!” Harping on “Development” you have been advocating and initiating schemes such as “Make in India”, “Skill India”, “Start-up India”, “Digital India”, “Smart Cities”, etc.

The question which many would like to ask: Achhe Din for whom? New India for whom? The Preamble to the Constitution of India gives us a vision for all citizens:

We the People of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic, and to secure to all its citizens:

JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;
and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation

However many people who belong to your government, party, and other likeminded bodies give us a different picture of Achhe Din and of New India where the values of Justice, Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity are stifled. “Vigilantism” has become a popular methodology of such persons and bodies.

Cow Vigilantism: Cow reverence and cow protection has become a very serious concern among such people. They claim that the cow represents their religion and culture. I appreciate the cow symbol as it represents love, compassion, service, sacrifice, and non-violent living. People, when they become politically emotional about this symbol, tend to give expression to hatred, cruelty, harm, murder, and violent life-styles. I wonder whether the cow would approve of such things done in her name. Read more

Easter Message from General Secretary of NCCI – “Who will roll away the Stone? Any Easter Hope?”

The crucifixion and burial of Jesus in the tomb was not merely an individual tragedy. It symbolized something much deeper. His death and entombment marked the end of the hope of the Jews of his time to be delivered out of the Roman bondage and of the vision of Messianic rule.

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth (Isa.11:1-4).

The travellers on the road to Emmaus express this utter disappointment when they lamented, “But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened.”(Lk.24:21) The tomb-stone had dashed the hopes of the people for the coming of the reign of God. Even today people in India have been waiting expectantly for “Achhe Din!” Listen to a report from Abhinav Rajput and Prawesh Lama in Hindustan Times, updated on February 6, 2017:

Rocking the youngest of his five children in his arms, street vendor Daata Ram watches his wife tend to two sick cows whose milk once supplemented their meagre income. The 66-year-old’s family of seven survives on what he now makes by selling small quantities of puffed rice in Pandra Sikanpur, a one-street, hardscrabble town of 5,000 in Uttar Pradesh. “I took a loan of Rs 30,000 to buy those cows but I think they are no good now,” says Ram, who uses a fourth of his monthly earnings of Rs5000-6000 to repay the local moneylender.

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Consultation of Church Heads – March 15, 2017 | ACTION PLAN

To

The Constituent Members
National Council of Churches in India.

 

Dear Ecumenical Leaders,

Kindly find attached a copy of the Action Plan which is the result of the Consultation of Church Heads which was held on 15th March 2017 in Delhi.

The Action  Plan addresses three major concerns : Uniform Civil Code, National Education Policy and Juvenile Justice Act. There is also a fourth section which refers to other concerns, particularly the growing control of the Government on our Medical Institutions in Vellore and Ludhiana.

I request you to kindly address the concerns in the Action Plan in whatever appropriate effective manner you deem fit.  It is high time that churches and Christian organizations start speaking up on issues that threaten the democratic, secular structure of the country. Please keep us informed on the actions taken by your Church/Christian Organization/Council in addressing the issues mentioned in the Action Plan.

Thanking you in anticipation,

Yours sincerely,

 

Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad
General Secretary

 

Click on link to download Action Plan –

 Action Plan .doc  

 Action Plan  .pdf 

Spirituality behind the bar: Indonesian peasant struggle for agrarian justice

NCCI received this email letter (as reproduced below) from Rev. Josef Purnama Widyatmadja with an article on “Spirituality behind Bar” which is an interview of Rev. Sugianto, a local Pastor in Indonesia who is engaged in the defence of people whose lands have been grabbed by a big corporation.

Messages of Solidarity have been sent from around the world. Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad, General Secretary of NCCI has also written a message of solidarity which is appended to the other messages listed below the interview.


Email from Rev. Josef Purnama Widyatmadja

QUOTE

Dear friends

Hope you are fine

By the way ,  enclosed I send you an article on ” Spirituality behind Bar “. This is an interview between Rev Sugianto and Ms. Henriette Johana Niuewenhuis , wife of Rev Karel Barus  a local pastor in Tulang Bawang Lampung South Sumatera Indonesia. I spent one week from 8 t0 13 Febuary 2017 in Lampung to visit detainees peasants and Rev. Sugianto, a local pastor who defended the  people whose their lands have been grabbed by BNIL a big corporation. I went to Lampung to be a witness and  to give my testimony in tribunal trial. I gave my testimony on  The scope of Church mission and the vocation of ordained pastor. In my testimony I confess that the mission of Christian mission is not limited within the wall of church building. Christian mission and vocation of pastors must respond to also the cry of poor . Proclaim the good news to the poor and oppressed are the obligation of christian mission throughout history. I cited also ths story of Toyohiko kagawa, Martin Luther King Jr,  Desmond Tutu, Van Lith and local pastors from Indonesia such as in Mangkid North Sulawesi, Asahan in North Sumtera and Kedungombo in Boyolali..

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Manipur Situation: Appeal letters to Prime Minister and National Commission for Minorities, India.


 

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Manipur situation appeal from NCCI_Page_2

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TEXT OF APPEAL LETTERS TO

  • SHRI NARENDRA MODI, PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA; and
  • SHRI NASEEM AHMAD, CHAIRPERSON, NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR MINORITIES, INDIA.

 

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Christmas message from NCCI General Secretary: “LOVE CAME DOWN AT CHRISTMAS!”

We live in a loveless world

We live in a loveless world. Our systems and structures are unjust: the caste system oppresses scheduled castes (dalits) and backward classes;  globalization favours the rich at the cost of the poor; development programmes displace the tribals and adivasis from their homelands; ceaseless wars and terrorist activities exterminate hundreds of innocent lives and render several thousand as refugees; expressions of fundamentalism suppress minorities;  the patriarchal system victimizes women and children; a competitive world frustrates several struggling  youth; our busy life leaves no time for families to care for one another ; consumerism depletes the earth’s resources and pollute nature; … indeed the list is unending.

 A lyric, entitled “A World without Love,” expresses utter disappointment with such a world:

Please lock me away, And don’t allow the day,
Here inside where I hide, With my loneliness
I don’t care what they say, I won’t stay  In a world without love

 Love given to a loveless world

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Presbyterian Church of India appreciate COP21 Paris Agreement

The email below was received from Rev.  Rolianthanga  Lalsim of the Presbyterian  Church  of  India, which is a constituent member of NCCI:

 

Dr.  Roger,  members  of  the  media  fraternity,

It  is  my  pleasure  to  send   as  attachment  copy  of  our  fax letter  to  Honourable  Prime  Minister,  expressing  appreciation  on  India  having  ratified  the  COP21  Paris  Agreement  and  which become  enforceable  from  tomorrow,  04/11/2016.

It  is  hoped  that  you  will  share  the  same  through  your channel  of  communication.

Thank  you.

Sincerely,

Rev.  Rolianthanga  Lalsim,
Adm.  Secretary  I/c  Peace  and  Justice,
Presbyterian  Church  of  India”

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download the letter

Challenging times for Christians in South Asia

The National Council of Churches in India strongly condemns the acts of violence perpetrated on Christians and similar religious minorities in the South Asian region.
We deeply regret that fanatic fascist religious forces are taking the law in their hands and determining who should live in the regions and who should be subjugated and even exterminated.
The governments of the countries in the region feign surprise and shock at the incidence of such attacks on minorities. Loud but hollow speeches are made that terrorists will not be spared. The opposition parties blame their respective governments for such occurrences and tend to get political mileage for themselves rather than addressing the problem.
The army and the police are to stand for secular values and principles as well as ensure justice and protection for the vulnerable. However even soldiers and police personnel belong to different religious communities. They could also be influenced by different communal ideologies. They may even be forced to submit to the diktats of their commanding officers. They may also be inadequately equipped to face the the onslaught of communal militant forces.
In the globalized world of our times even religion is commercialized and used by economic, political and religious leaders for their own selfish ends. Human beings do not seem to have any value in the context of the allurement of power and pleasure. Hence large numbers of people are killed; their deaths are considered as being unavoidable for the sake of the attractive end in view. Even religious killing and martyrdom is glorified.
Unless the secular minded people of the lands speak out, this carnage will continue!
Unless the religious leaders emphasize the important of mutual love and community togetherness, this phenomenon of communal hatred will continue to breed and spread!
Unless communities resolve that they will not allow hate-mongers to infiltrate their neighborhoods, this evil will not be stopped!
Having just celebrated Good Friday and Easter, let us as Christians prayerfully and affirmatively stand for what is ‘responsible’ and ‘liberating’ in South Asia.
We are well aware that the scourge of religious extremism is also rampant in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere. May we be inspired and empowered by the crucified-resurrected Jesus Christ to be channels of justice and peace!
Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad,
General Secretary, NCCI

An Easter Reflection from Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad, General Secretary of NCCI.

empty_tomb11Resurrection Experience in This Life itself! 

The resurrection of Jesus has significance not only for life after death but also for our life here and now. The resurrection of Jesus is not merely good news for individuals in their personal lives, but it has collective significance for human history and all creation. Over the centuries, Christians seem to have become content with the good news of the resurrection in terms of the hope of life it offers after death. Human beings in general do not want to die. Our survival instinct has made us afraid of death. Christ’s resurrection gives us comforting assurance: “We will not die! We will come back to life!” Funeral sermons usually focus on this hope. Quite often our hymns give expression to such a faith affirmation. Addressing some disappointed people in his times who considered Jesus to be a great martyr, whose message and ministry came to a premature end with his crucifixion, Paul declared, ‘If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (I Cor. 15: 19) However, today perhaps Paul would tell many Christians, “If for life after death only we believe in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

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