Ann Moyalan, SCN, who visited Kandhamal in India after the riots, recently attended the National People’s Tribunal on Kandhamal Violence for three days at the Constitution Club in New Delhi. Sister Ann says she went to the tribunal to express solidarity with the victims. “I believe that we need to activate people’s power and stand united to help those suffering in Orissa. We have to use our institutional power to put pressure on the government.”
The National People’s Tribunal in New Delhi listened to 43 victims/survivors as they shared their painful experiences of witnessing the gruesome murders of family members. In many cases, the attacks took place right in front of the family members’ eyes. Out of the over 50,000 people displaced by these acts of violence, reports say that only around 20,000 have returned to their villages. Most continue to live in make-shift homes in fear for their lives and few possessions.
Sister Ann says that among the participants, she listened to the story of an Anganwadi teacher, Seema, who fled to Bhubaneshwar, the capital of Orissa, along with her four children and her pastor husband. Seema was brutally beaten up and is working as a day laborer for survival. The woman is unable to return to Kandhamal paralyzed by fear for her life and the lives of her family. In tears, the teacher shared that even the sari she wears is a borrowed one.
The Tribunal participants are holding the government responsible for ongoing suffering of the victims. Members of the Tribunal have also made a series of recommendations to the government to ensure justice for the victims.
Victims, experts, members of the media, activists, researchers, international observers and legislators, as well as approximately 300 religious men and women from across the country took part in the Tribunal.
Click here for more photos from the tribunal.