During 20th-23rd October, we had an SCMI-HMI Interfaith Workshop in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. The theme was: “Christian Spirituality in Pluralistic Religious Context: Understanding Islam”. There was a good participation from the different areas, and all the participants were actively engaged during the workshop. It was fortunate that the Henry Martyn Institute (HMI) could co-organise the workshop. The HMI is an ecumenical centre that caters as a training and community development centre and offers courses on Islamic studies.
During these four days, the participants were introduced to the basics of Islamic faith, and were able to deliberate on interfaith harmony. We took part in Iftar, as this was the Ramzan month, we felt that sharing in religious festivities was an important way of building trust among different faith communities. Most important of all, through inputs by the resource persons and interactions during the workshop, the participants expressed the importance of tolerance towards others. It was a good experience that challenged us to break barriers and build relationships with people of other faiths. This programme was supported by Ecumenical Assistant Programme (EAP) of World Student Christian Federation, Inter-Regional Office.
Protest against Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) 1958
On the 2nd November, There was a nationwide protest against AFSPA, which operates in the state of Manipur. This draconian act has given authority to the security forces to operate without warrant and immunity against legal action. They can also shoot, arrest, and kill at the mere hint of suspicion. As a result violations against human rights take place in the form of brutal rape, murder, and extortion. The protests were triggered by Ms. Sharmila Irom who had been on hunger strike for six years demanding that the AFSPA be repealed from her home state. The SCMI took part in this peaceful protest on 2nd November, 2006 in Bangalore, Karnataka. The AFSPA, though not be fully repealed, has been recommended for amendments.
Workshops on Human Rights
As part of the human rights programme, we were able to have three regional workshops on human rights this year:
- 11th November, West Bengal Region,
- 23rd-25th November, 2006, the North Tamil Nadu region,
- 9th-10th December, 2006, the Kanataka region.
It was on the 9th December, 2006, that the SCMers formed a Rally commemorating Human Rights Day. There were different human rights groups joining in the rally in Bangalore, Karnataka. It was a moment of sheer joy to see us as part of the larger network of people struggling for human rights.
There will be regional human right meetings in NorthWest India, NorthEast India and Orissa, before the academic session for 2006 ends.
Some of our Future Programmes,
which we can highlight at this point are –
Winter Workshop. The SCMI will have winter workshop in two places simultaneously during 29th December, 2006 - 2nd January, 2007. The themes are, “SCMI Trainers’ Training on Human Rights” and “Challenging the Dalit Women’s Status Amidst Economic Globalisation”, in Orissa and Tamil Nadu respectively.
WCC General Secretary Visit to SCMI National Office. During the month of February, Samuel Kobia, General Secretary of WCC will visit SCMI National Office in Bangalore. The SCMI National Office will host a one-day programme at the SCMI programme centre on 14th February, where Mr. Kobia will inaugurate the EASYNet conference. We look forward to this date as it will mark an important milestone as the WCC General Secretary addresses SCMers.