Indian Christians in the United States rallied in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York City last week to pray for peace and justice amid rising violence in Manipur.
The demonstrators urged authorities to take effective measures to curb the ongoing attacks on the Kuki-Zo tribal people, a predominantly Christian group, in the northeastern Indian state.
More than 700 individuals attended the prayer vigil, according to a report by Matters India.
“Prayers by the clergy reflected the deep pain felt across the Indian Christian Community in the United States for the great calamity that befell Manipur with tremendous loss of human lives and destruction of homes and churches,” said the Federation of Indian American Christians of North America (FIACONA) in a statement.
FIACONA president Koshy George said the gathering “is not a protest rally,” adding, “We aim not to examine why the riots happened, who is responsible, or politics.”
Anna George, the event’s leader, lamented the dire circumstances, where lives are lost, women face heinous crimes, and thousands are displaced without basic necessities.
George said there was a historical harmony between religious groups in India but expressed dismay over the current situation, which she described as a potential genocide or massacre unfolding before the world’s eyes.
“But what has happened now? A genocide or massacre is taking place right before our eyes,” she said, adding that over 145 individuals have died, with 60,000 rendered homeless, hundreds of churches destroyed, and numerous villages burned.
American activist and journalist Peter Friedrich drew parallels between the situation in Manipur and the events in Odisha’s Kandhamal. He criticized both local and central governments for insufficient action and the silent response from American churches.
New York State Senator Kevin Thomas, the sole legislator present, stressed the importance of justice and equality for all humans, regardless of religion. He called for global unity in fostering a world where people coexist harmoniously.
Bishop Johncy Itty of the Episcopal Church encouraged attendees to stand resolute in their pursuit of justice and to pray for those facing persecution.
Father Robinson Frank, an American Catholic priest, highlighted the need for improved legal systems in Manipur and expressed sadness over the persecution of Christians in India.