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World News

Manipur church burnings debated by European Parliament as Modi attempts to silence discussion

by Premier Journalist

After 13 weeks of ethnically-based violence in India’s troubled north-eastern state of Manipur, the European Parliament in Strasbourg is holding an emergency debate.

But opposition to holding votes on the resolutions has come from India, through lobbyists employed in Europe by the Hindu nationalist BJP government of Narendra Modi.

“It's actually extraordinary. It's quite an unexpected development”, commented Caroline Duffield of persecution charity, Open Doors.

“What it is, they've tabled emergency resolutions on the Indian government's handling of the security crisis in Manipur. And really, the language is scathing, the criticisms are profound”, she said.

Details of attacks on Christians sent to Premier Christian Radio in past days has put the number of burnings of church buildings, schools, seminaries and the homes of ministers at 564, since 3 May.

These amount to 263 churches belonging to the Kuki-Zo tribe, 93 Kuki Christian buildings and 238 churches belong to Christians from the Meitei ethnic group, which witnesses say were destroyed by Hindu Meitei nationalists.

Six political groupings in the European Parliament have tabled the resolutions, which will be voted on tomorrow.

A motion laid by Spanish MEP Miguel Urbán Crespo on behalf of The Left Group criticises the “authorities´ response” to minority groups in India, saying it “has stoked ethnic divisions,” adding that “political leaders and public authorities explicitly advocated hatred towards these minorities with impunity.”

“They're denouncing the BJP political elite, for the use of nationalist rhetoric”, reflected Caroline Duffield. “So it's an extraordinary resolution debate underway” she told Premier Christian Radio.

For the European Peoples Party (Christian Democrats), a resolution tabled in the name of Croatian MEP Željana Zovko and 12 others, “strongly urges the Indian authorities to continue to employ all necessary measures” to halt religious violence.

The Christian Democrats also demand Delhi should “protect religious minorities such as the Christian community of Manipur, and to pre-empt any further escalation.”

“Now, what you have to focus on is that Christian communities on both sides of this conflict have been attacked”, explained Caroline Duffield. “So that's Christian communities on the ethnic Kuki side, and Christian communities on the ethnic Meitei side”, she said.

Saying “that this is all to do with ethnicity, really doesn't hold water at Open Doors” she added.

A resolution from Alviina Alametsä of the Green group in the Parliament notes that “military and state security forces have been accused of committing serious human rights, whilst enjoying impunity for such acts.”

Commenting on steps taken by the Delhi government to employ lobbyists ahead of the debate, Caroline Duffield said “They're certainly not taking this lying down”. “It's very embarrassing that this is happening in Strasbourg, the Indian Prime Minister is due in France for Bastille Day, on July the 14th. They don't want a long shadow falling over what's supposed to be a glittering celebration of India's place on the world stage”, she assessed.

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