World news

Christian Students seek to plant ‘seeds of liberation’; French forced evictions of Roma people condemned; Prisoners for Peace Day to remember war resisters around the world; Indian court sentences 12 for attacking Christians

Christian Students seek to plant ‘seeds of liberation’
The Student Christian Movement has announced Revd Raj Bharath Patta as keynote speaker for their upcoming conference ‘Seeds of Liberation’. The annual conference aims to inspire a new generation of Christian students to work for justice and peace.

This year will mark the 40th anniversary of the original ‘Seeds of Liberation’ conference, which took place in 1973 and is known among the movement as the event which saw the most members commit to campaigning for social justice.

Revd Patta is a Dalit Pastor and the General Secretary of SCM India. He will be speaking on Christian mission and standing in solidarity with the oppressed and marginalised. Revd Patta said: “It is such an honour to be asked to deliver a talk on my experiences for Dalit liberation and speak on behalf of SCM India, which has been deeply committed to this important and relevant cause [liberation].”

The conference will include workshops on various aspects of the theme of liberation, and also a panel discussion. Sam Gibson, a PhD Theology student at the University of Birmingham, said of last year’s conference: ‘The panel was my favourite part of the weekend; it was great having people from so many theological and social backgrounds. The panellists were excellent and their comments were insightful and affirming.’

Also speaking is Bruce Kent, a former Catholic Priest and Chaplain who has spent years campaigning for Human Rights, peace and nuclear disarmament, working with both the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and War on Want. He will be sharing his experiences in order to inspire the next generation of Christian activists. The final day of the conference will be a day of student-led activism on the streets of Manchester.

The 1973 conference, ‘Seeds of Liberation: spiritual dimensions to political struggle’ saw students gather to explore and face the issues of their time. This was a turning point in the lives of many of the 350 participants, leading them to follow Christ’s call to work for justice and liberation, in many different ways. The 2013 ‘Seeds of Liberation’ will be held in Manchester on 1 – 4 March. For more information and to book your place visit: http://www.movement.org.uk/seedsofliberation

The Student Christian Movement is an ecumenical student-led movement passionate about faith and justice. SCM brings students together to explore how to live out the Christian faith in today’s world  www.movement.org.uk

French forced evictions of Roma people condemned

The French authorities must immediately stop forced evictions affecting several thousand migrant Roma each year across the country, Amnesty International says in a report published last month.

Focusing on the region of greater Paris, the report ‘Chased away’: Forced evictions of Roma in the Ile-de-France, exposes the negative impact of forced evictions on the lives of migrant Roma and the failure of the French authorities to incorporate international human rights standards concerning evictions into domestic law.

“The new French government has taken some positive steps in relation to the situation of migrant Roma. Its tone and approach have improved, relative to previous years in which Roma were often openly stigmatised by the government. However the practice of forced evictions has continued at the same alarming rate as before” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.
“France has failed to include international human rights standards against forced evictions in its domestic legal system. As a result, evictions of informal settlements where Roma live generally take place without adequate prior information, consultation or notice to residents.

“In most cases, alternative housing is not provided and entire families are left homeless. They have no choice but to re-establish their homes in another informal settlement elsewhere, and schooling and medical treatment are interrupted as a result.”

Most of the estimated 15,000 migrant Roma living in France come from Romania, and some from Bulgaria; almost all are fleeing chronic poverty and discrimination in their countries of origin.

As non-French EU citizens, they are prohibited by French law from staying in the country for more than three months unless they are employed or can demonstrate sufficient resources to support themselves.

However, as EU citizens, if expelled they are free to return to France and many have done this several times.

There is a chronic shortage of adequate housing and emergency shelter for all who need it in France, but Roma, the victims of prejudice and discrimination in France – as much as elsewhere in Europe – are particularly vulnerable to violations of their internationally guaranteed right to adequate housing.

In the absence of other alternatives, many migrant Roma live in informal settlements for months or years in dire living conditions, perpetually fearing and often being forcibly evicted without adequate prior consultation, information or notice and with limited possibilities in practice to challenge their eviction through the courts.

Prisoners for Peace Day to remember war resisters around the world

People around the world are preparing to mark ‘Prisoners for Peace’ day today Saturday (1 December). War Resisters’ International (WRI) have been marking the day for over fifty years, making known the names and stories of those imprisoned for their actions for peace.
Some are conscientious objectors, detained for their refusal to join the military. Others have taken nonviolent direct actions to disrupt preparations for war.

WRI say that the day is also a chance for members of the public to demonstrate their support.

“We invite you to put aside some time on December 1st, and send cards that express your solidarity,” explained WRI. “You might want to gather a group from your community, church or friends and write together.”

Sergeiy Sandler, a conscientious objector in Israel, said, “I can testify to the importance of the scores of support messages I received from people all over the world. They lifted my spirit when I was behind bars.”

Current prisoners for peace include Kimberly Rivera, a conscientious objector in the USA. She joined the US Army and fought in Iraq.

Whilst there, Rivera began to seriously doubt the justification of the war and her participation in it. Coupled with her study of the Bible, she decided as a matter of moral conscience she could no longer participate in the war.

Rivera fled to Canada, where she was refused refugee status and forcibly returned to the US. She was immediately taken into custody, where she remains.

12 sentenced over Orissa violence
An Indian court has sentenced 12 for violence against the Christian community