Statement : The Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA) welcomes the efforts of President Trump and Vice-President Pence to promote religious freedom around the world.
July 16, 2019. WASAHINGTON DC. (Corrected July 20) FIACONA appreciates the efforts of Secretary Pompeo and Ambassador At Large Sam Brownback for hosting the second annual global conference of Foreign Ministers in Washington from July 16 – 18, 2019 to advance religious freedom around the world.
While FIACONA is greatly appreciative of the commitment the US Administration has for the rights of the people to practice their respective religious faiths without interference from state or non-state actors, we are disappointed that one of the largest violator of religious freedom in the world by sheer number of harassment and intimidation, India, is not on the published agenda of the conference.
India’s ruling Hindu nationalist party is behind almost all attacks against Christians and other religious minorities including the Dalits.
Daily harassment of Christians by militia belonging to the ruling BJP party enjoys political protection of the Modi government. These protections are evident as in every case, victims are arrested by police instead of the attackers.
Mr. Modi himself makes seemingly strong statements to alienate the office he is holding from such attacks carried out by his party. Statements issued by Mr. Modi condemning acts of violence against Christians and other religious minorities are for the sole purpose of keeping the international community pacified.
It is also being noticed that dozens of Christian pastors and other visitors going to India from the US and Europe with valid visas are deported every single day from Indian airports only because they belong to Christian organizations or they may be hosted Indian Christians while in India.
Yet, the US Administration has chosen not to discuss these serious violations. FIACONA is told that business and strategic considerations have played a role in this decision for two years in a row.
Though FIACONA understands the compulsions due to short term strategic and business interests for their various decisions, FIACONA is also of the opinion that ignoring classical signs of an emerging threat in an otherwise vibrant society, would cause, in the long run, tremendous damage not only to the 2000 year old church in India but also to the U.S. – India relationship besides the U.S. interests in the Indian Ocean corridor.
Agressive, militant Hindu agenda thrust on the people of India would create large scale civil strife across Indian subcontinent. Such internal turmoil and civil strife could adversely affect regional stability and security interests of the United States.
Further, it is important for the U.S. to remain and be seen as an honest advocate for the cause rather than being seen as a force that is pliable.
Leaving any room for any country to believe that the U.S. could be kept quiet about their record on religious freedom for short-term considerations, could seriously undermine the impact the U.S. can have globally on this issue. The U.S. thus stands to erode its credibility for selectively picking and choosing the countries on which to focus.
Nevertheless, FIACONA enthusiastically applauds the thoughts and efforts of Ambassador Brownback and his team in organizing this global meet. It is rightfully billed as the largest ever conference to discuss religious freedom in the world and we are grateful for that. We hope, one day this conference would include all regions of the world wherever freedom of religious and ethnic communities are threatened.
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