Christian leaders distressed over conviction of Binayak Sen

Shillong: The All India Christian Council (AICC) on Sunday expressed "deep distress" at the "systematic targeting and persecution" of human rights activists Binayak Sen and Teesta Setalvad by government agencies as well as by organized groups.

In a statement, the AICC regional secretary Madhu Chandra, said, "India’s future as a vibrant secular democracy requires an abiding commitment to civil liberties and human dignity of its citizens."

The AICC also listed "erosion of freedom of faith and disregard of special rights for vulnerable sections" such as tribals and dalits as "major issues" facing the nation.

The Christian Council wished all fellow citizens peace, security, and a share in the national prosperity. "Freedom of faith and human rights were special victims last year and the last decade. We recall the anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat in 2002 and the pre-planned mass violence against Christians in Kandhamal and other districts of Orissa as well as Karnataka," Joseph D’souza, AICC president said.

D’souza urged the Union government to "proactively resolve the unprecedented prison term" for humanist physician Binayak Sen and bring to an end the "harassment of brave activist" Teesta Setalvad who, according to him is "currently targeted" by both state and rightwing fundamentalist organizations.

"We call upon the government to ensure that a bill against communal violence is brought before Parliament which fully addresses the fears of micro-minorities such as the Christians in India. The Christian Council fully supports the demands of dalit Christians and Muslims and we hope the government and Supreme Court grant them justice in 2011," the release read.