Eighty days of internet and telephone blackout. Eighty days.

I can’t even imagine 80 minutes of internet and telephone blackout. 

But it was eighty days.

Beginning in early May 2023, the state of Manipur in Northeast India, experienced 80 days of internet and telephone blackouts after massive violence broke out due to ethnic strife between rival tribes. A majority and generally more affluent tribal population staked their claim to benefits once reserved for the minority and generally more impoverished tribal populations in the state. 

The impoverished tribes couldn’t take it anymore. They began speaking out and their enemies struck back. Violently. Within the first 15 days, more than 130 people, mostly Christians, were dead. Four hundred churches were destroyed by fire. At least 60,000 were forced to flee their villages and remain displaced even today. In a matter of mere moments, they were made homeless and robbed of their dignity.

And then the blackouts came.

When communication was restored, 80 days later, even more horrors were revealed.  The world learned through a viral video that Christian Kuki tribal women, had been paraded naked through town, groped by the public, gang-raped by men, and then brutally murdered.  It was almost too terrible to believe. In a recent Hindustan Times newspaper article, Ms. Jaya Bachchan, a member of the Indian Parliament cried out, “It’s very frustrating. Every day something is happening with women.” Women are vulnerable. And it seems there is no one to help them.

After that horrifying video became public, the Chief Justice of India’s Supreme Court, D.Y. Chandrachud, demanded that the central government leap into action to help those being victimized. The displaced, hurting, defenseless Kuki tribal people are still waiting for that help to arrive. 

Manipur could seem like a faraway, isolated place. But Dignity Freedom Network has workers and families right in the midst of the worst of the violence. DFN’s school in the affected area is still standing, but students are generally afraid to come to school. Parents are likewise terrified.  DFN’s partner has had at least two of their worship centers destroyed. Our Indian leaders have family members in the region who have fled their family homes and are seeking shelter in makeshift places.

This is personal. DFN must help.

DFN’s International President, Joseph D’souza, appealed emotionally to the world. He said, “This violent assault and murder of women in Manipur points to the horrors to come if we fail to awaken the global conscience across religious and caste lines. Whether it’s a Muslim, Christian, Hindu, or Dalit woman who is raped or killed, all of India, and the world, must speak out for justice. Violence and sexual assault against any woman is a travesty, no matter the background of the victim or the perpetrator. Yet if hate speech and bigotry continue to rule the day, as we’ve witnessed in Manipur, the world will descend further into chaos for women everywhere.”

And so we are called to help. We are called to assist. We are called to action.

Photos from the Investigative Report to the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance, 21 June 2023

What can we do, half a world away?

  1. Pray! Please pray for peace to be restored in Manipur. Pray for healing for the women who have been attacked. Pray for the families of those who have lost mothers, sisters, and daughters. Pray that those who have been displaced will once again find safe, permanent housing. Pray that relatives would be united.
  2. Share this story! The horror going on in Manipur is largely unknown here in the United States. Spread awareness of this issue. Mobilize prayer in your church or family of faith. Send the news to your local newspapers, radio stations, and internet news outlets. Our nation must become aware.
  3. Give! Dignity Freedom Network is well-placed in India to bring practical help and hope to the suffering. DFN would like to provide at least $25,000 of relief funding to India immediately. Those relief monies will provide three critical things at this time:
    • Food, clothing, household goods
    • Medical care for the injured
    • Relocation funding

Click here to donate today. Select “Area of Greatest Need” and note “Manipur” in the comments box.

The people of Manipur thank you for your love, your interest, and your support. May our God of hope and justice bring healing, peace, and reconciliation to the state.