Tuesday May 21, 2013
INDIA: Anti-Nuke Protesters Urge Church Leaders to Support ThemSalem-News.com
They said the Church is letting them down when they desperately need its support and solidarity.
(KERALA, Tamil Nadu) - Anti-nuke protesters have urged Church leaders not to abandon them in their struggle against the Koodankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu.
Some 20 representative from coastal villages of Koodankulam and Nellai in the state met Cardinal Telesphore Toppo at the Velankanni shrine, where all the Church heads had gathered to celebrate the silver jubilee of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India.
“Our people met the CCBI leaders for their support. The federal government have been ignoring the anti-nuke struggle and silencing the rights of the people with intimidation and police brutality,” said Victoria Pushparayan, a former priest who is leading the agitation for more than eight years.
Pushparayan said they want the church leaders to stand with them in their fight against injustice.
Brother Satheesh, who led the representatives, said Pope Benedict XVI himself had spoken against nuclear power and Church leaders are always keen to back clean green energy.
“In such situation Church cannot ignore our struggle. We all feel that the Church is letting us down when we desperately need its support and solidarity,” he said.
According to Pushparayan, anti-nuke struggle has completed 550 days and the state police have registered 325 criminal cases, including sedition charges against the protesters.
“Our struggle has been always nonviolent. But Police named 5,296 villagers in the accused list and 221,483 people in various other cases. Even the unborn can face criminal charges in the coastal villages,” he said.
Catholic fishermen, dominating 11 coastal villages in Southern Tamil falling in the vicinity of the nuke plant, along with other villagers had intensified their resistance against the Russian-built plant with the support of the Church in 2009.
Bishop Yuvon Ambroise of Tuticorin had led the indefinite hunger strike against the plant in 2010. He also led the protesters to meet the prime minister and chief minister of the state.
But the Church back tracked from the struggle after the federal government blacklisted Church NGOs and frozen their foreign contribution accounts.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had alleged that foreign funded NGOs are spearheading the anti-nuke struggle to thwart the progress of the country.
Later, a junior minister alleged that Church NGOs diverted funds for the struggle.
People had gathered at St Lourde Church Idinthakarai, the epicentre of the protest, last year and continued their struggle against the nuclear facility, which would be commissioned soon.
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