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British Asian Christians issue urgent call for peace in Manipur

by Ros Mayfield

A group of British Asian Christians are issuing an urgent call for peace in Manipur as the area grapples with escalating violence and persecution.  

The unrest in the northeastern state of India began nearly 4 months ago, after a peaceful protest over land rights and jobs.  The predominantly Hindu tribal group known as Meiteis are accused of targeting Kuki Christians in the region in a series of horrifying incidents, some of which have been distributed on social media. 

Internet services to Kuki areas have been mostly cut off, making it difficult to assess the full extent of the devastation. 

Tens of thousands of people are reported to have been displaced, and hundreds of homes, churches and religious colleges have been ransacked and burned to the ground. 

According to one source, over the past 72 hours continuous gun battles between Kukis and Meiteis have resulted in at least eight fatalities and 18 injuries, including two security personnel, and intermittent gunfire continues to disrupt the lives of innocent civilians.

The Indian government has been accused of turning a blind eye to the situation and not doing enough to quell the violence.  A coalition of opposition groups recently forced a vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the issue, which he survived.

The disruption has been brought to the attention of ministers in both London and Washington, and a meeting is scheduled in Parliament later this month. 

Following a spate of devastating acts also targetting Christians in Pakistan, where violent mobs have used the country's harsh blasphemy laws to justify their attacks, the British Asian Christian Association is raising money to send to those affected.  They're calling on people to join a peaceful protest in London next week, saying: "This unified effort, driven by the desire for justice and equality, seeks to shed light on the discrimination faced by Christians in the region." 

They're calling for "people of faith or no faith, who have good conscience and have been moved by the recent attacks to come together to call for change."

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