Letter to Harper - India
Dear Prime Minister Harper:
I am a Canadian citizen who is concerned about religious freedom in India. Christians in India suffer much persecution. Christians are often falsely accused, harassed, attacked and even killed.
On May 12, 2011, a 17-year-old Christian woman, Nirupama Pradhan was raped and killed after school. The woman's father has named a suspect but, according to Asian News, police have not acted towards finding the killer. Police also refused to supply a post-mortem report to the widow of a Christian preacher, killed on January 10, 2011. Some Hindu radicals have confessed to the murder.
On May 8, 2011, Pastor B. Vijaya Kumar and family, walking home from a prayer meeting, were stopped by Hindu radicals and detained for three hours. Police told the pastor and his family to leave the area and that they would not accept responsibility for any further harm to them. Pastor Shivraj Maravi, in Madhya, Pradesh, was prevented from renovating his home where he occasionally held church services. Hindu extremist's accusations led to an arrest. He was charged with forcible conversion under the state anti-conversion act.
In the state of Maharshtra, the construction of a church building was stopped and a boycott was placed on the Christians in the area. The boycott disallowed Christian vehicles from transporting vegetables to market. This cut off the believer's means of livelihood. The Christians were also told to leave the village and that their children would not be allowed to attend the local school.
Canada views India as a vital trade partner, taking steps to intensify trade and economic relations and becoming stronger partners and allies. Canada has invested much into India, working together on science and technology projects and energy initiatives. I believe it is time for Canada to call for action from India's leaders to correct human rights abuses. Protection needs to be provided to religious minorities. Harassment and persecution towards Christians needs to be investigated and justice applied. Freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. Laws against supposed “forcible conversion” are really being used to squelch and to destroy Christian expression and Christian practice. I would like to see changes to India's legal system to protect minorities, such as Christians, and to protect the right to hold services, to practice and spread their faith in India.
Please share these concerns with Indian leaders and make diplomatic efforts towards having anti-conversion laws repealed. Thank you for doing all that you can in this fight for human rights.
Respectfully and sincerely,
Shawn and Ramona Stevens
cc : M.P. John Baird