RELEASE – Save the Persecuted Christians Delivers Open Letter to President Trump About Ensuring Fairness of World Bank Aid to India Christians

Save the Persecuted Christians | May 11, 2020

In Communication to President, Secretary of State and World Bank Leader, Advocates Stress That Christians in India Are Being Denied Coronavirus Relief, Unjustly Detained and Forced Into Quarantine

WASHINGTON—Save the Persecuted Christians (STPC), which advocates on behalf of hundreds of millions of Christians facing heavy persecution worldwide, has coordinated with the Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA) to deliver an important open letter today to President Donald Trump regarding aid to Christians in India during the coronavirus pandemic.

Multi-faith representatives from 34 organizations and ministries, including those from the International Religious Freedom Roundtable, have added their names to this timely correspondence to President Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and World Bank Group President David Malpass.

“Save the Persecuted Christians continues to stand in the gap for persecuted Christians and other religious minorities suffering extreme discrimination in India during the pandemic lockdown,” said Dede Laugesen, executive director of Save the Persecuted Christians, who drafted the letter along with FIACONA chairman John Prabhudoss. “In India, Christians and other non-Hindus are being denied government-issued food rations. They are also being unjustly detained and forced into quarantine with people who are infected with COVID-19. To make matters worse, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has created a relief fund set apart—and not subject to accountability or transparency—from which he can direct aid to whomever he pleases. We are asking President Trump to influence the World Bank, who has designated $1 billion for COVID-19 relief to India. We believe a multi-faith committee must be established at the World Bank to hold India accountable for the fair, unbiased and accountable use of these funds.”

The letter noted coverage from The Scroll in India, which reported: “The Stranded Workers Action Network (SWAN), after surveying over 11,000 migrants across India, reported that by April 9, there had been at least 189 documented lockdown-related deaths (compared to 169 COVID-19-related deaths). The causes of death included suicide, death during the journey that migrant workers made to their home states, hunger and police brutality.

“It is no longer a trade-off between lives and livelihoods but between lives and lives,” the SWAN report said.

The letter also emphasized the following:

“The government is detaining people of certain non-Hindu religious faiths in isolation facilities even when they do not test positive for the virus. Such detained people are held together in the same facilities that are holding people who have tested positive. We strongly believe this is due to malicious intent, and religious, bias tacitly promoted by the Modi government.

“The government is using police forces to target migrants, Christians and other religious minorities to harass and intimidate during the COVID-19 lockdown and testing.

“The courts and judiciary system in general have been a reliable institution in India for addressing public grievances effectively in the past. But now, almost everyone in the country understands that a good number of judges are compromised either because bias is tacitly approved by the Modi government, or because of the threat and punitive actions by the government against judges for saying anything that could be construed as unfavorable.

“So, the public, especially people from non-Hindu communities, are afraid of going to authorities. They are left with no recourse to address legitimate serious grievances that affect their fundamental rights in such a flagrant manner. … Thus, in the light of many reports and eyewitness accounts coming from India in regard to COVID-19-related abuses, we feel strongly that an advisory level monitoring committee must immediately be empaneled by the World Bank, either here in Washington or in India.”

The letter-signers also noted several specific suggestions “to avoid the misuse and abuse of the funds meant for dealing with the coronavirus emergency:”

  1. To effectively monitor the efforts and grievances, we recommend that a non-governmental body of eminent social workers and economists representing all major religious faiths in India and in Washington be empaneled immediately.
  1. It is important to make sure that this body is not stacked with people who are politically aligned with the ruling parties. We recommend the list below of people who will have the stature and knowledge on these matters from various religious communities and different regions of India.
  1. We believe, for transparency and accountability, the committee should be appointed by the World Bank, rather than the government of India.
  1. This body must be an independent body free to talk to the press should there be an extraordinary situation.
  1. This body shall monitor and investigate reports of religious discrimination, corruption, virus testing protocols, the discrepancies in the data disclosed by the government, reports about unauthorized detainment of people testing negative to the virus, proper and timely medical care of those detained, effectiveness of the distribution of relief material, and report to the World Bank.
  1. Due to the urgent matter, concerns and recommendations raised by the committee need to be considered immediately by the World Bank.
  1. If the World Bank finds merit in the recommendations, India must face real and measurable consequences.

Additionally, the letter listed several individuals representing all major faiths in India who could be named to the World Bank committee. Read the letter in its entirety here.

The mission of Save the Persecuted Christians, led by leaders of nearly 200 faith and civil society groups, is to save lives and save souls by disseminating actionable information about the magnitude of the persecution taking place globally and by mobilizing concerned Americans for the purpose of disincentivizing further attacks on those who follow Jesus.

With so much of the world’s Christian population being imprisoned and/or harassed for their beliefs, including Christians in India, the need has never been greater for the sort of grassroots campaign STPC’s SaveUs Movement is working to foster. Its efforts are modeled after a miraculously successful one that helped free another population suffering from heavy persecution—Soviet Jews—by penalizing those in the Kremlin responsible for such repression. Through this movement, Save the Persecuted Christians endeavors to provide American policymakers with the popular support they need to effect real change worldwide and alleviate systemically the suffering being experienced by so many of those following Christ.


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