At least 70 Christians have been killed and hundreds of churches razed to the ground during violence in the state of Manipur, north-west India, a Christian charity has reported.
Open Doors said Christians in the region “have been especially singled out for persecution”.
Violence erupted at the beginning of May, following reportedly peaceful protests over a tribal land dispute with the local government.
According to Open Doors, which partners with local people and organisations, at least 70 Christians have been killed, around 300 churches burned down, and more than 10,000 believers displaced.
Pray that God helps us.
One source told the charity: “Everything which had a Christian identity or Christian mark was attacked by the majority community in Manipur.”
Another reported: “Many churches were burned in front of us, and it has been very difficult to see this unfold before us. We want to be strong. Pray that God helps us.”
Lord Alton of Liverpool asked the UK Government if any representations had been made to the Indian authorities about reports that their “security services did not intervene as Christians were killed and forced to leave their homes”.
Minister of State at the Foreign Office, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, responded: “Any reports of discrimination against religious minorities are a matter for the Indian police and legal system.”
He added: “I regularly speak to the High Commissioner of India. Human rights forms part of that dialogue.”
The Bishop of Truro, Revd Philip Mounstephen – commissioned in 2018 by the UK Government to review the Foreign Office’s support for persecuted Christians – expressed disappointment at the Department’s reply.
His report, published in 2019, concluded that the persecution of Christians is so extreme it amounts to genocide in some parts of the world. He made a number of recommendations, which the Government said it would adopt “in full”.
At the time, Bishop Mounstephen called on the Government to consider sanctioning countries that persecute Christians, introduce mandatory religious literacy training for Foreign Office staff, and appoint a special envoy for freedom of religion or belief.