Indian bishop to be questioned for alleged rape of nun

Catholic nuns hold placards demanding the arrest of a bishop who one nun has accused of rape, during a public protest in Kochi, Kerala, India, on Sept. 12, 2018. (AP Photo)
Updated 13 September 2018
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Indian bishop to be questioned for alleged rape of nun

  • The nun first accused Mullackal in late June of raping her 13 times between 2014 and 2016
  • Bishop Franco Mullackal has called the whole scandal a conspiracy by those against the Church

NEW DELHI: Indian police on Wednesday summoned for questioning a bishop accused by a nun of raping her multiple times, following days of protests by other nuns and supporters.
Bishop Franco Mullackal, who has rejected the accusations, has been called for questioning in the southern state of Kerala on September 19, the Press Trust of India reported.
The nun first accused Mullackal in late June of raping her 13 times between 2014 and 2016, but police until now have stopped short of formally questioning him.
But pressure has been building on the authorities to investigate the claims.
Over recent days five nuns — in a rare show of dissent within the Indian Church — and dozens of supporters have been protesting in Kerala’s capital Thiruvananthapuram.
With media interest growing as well, the alleged victim has also approached the Vatican representative in India to press her case.
Her letter, leaked to Indian media, said Mullackal was “using political and money power to bury the case.”
Mullackal has called the whole scandal a conspiracy by those against the Church, and has won backing from his congregation at the Missionaries of Jesus Church.
Kerala’s High Court will be hearing the matter on Thursday, although the bishop was not expected to attend.
A local politician, P C George, has meanwhile made waves by calling the nun “a prostitute.”
“Twelve times she enjoyed it and the thirteenth time it is rape? Why didn’t she complain the first time?” media reports quoted him as saying.
Kerala is home to India’s largest Christian population and one of the oldest in the world.
In July, two priests were arrested for allegedly raping and blackmailing a woman for over 20 years in the state.
Sexual abuse by clergymen and the failure of senior Church officials to take action has been one of the biggest scandals facing the Catholic Church in recent years.
Pope Francis issued a letter on sexual abuse to the Catholics around the world in August, expressing the Church’s “shame and repentance.”
Christians — overwhelmingly Catholic — are the third-largest religious group in India. Around 80 percent of the country’s 1.25 billion population is Hindu, followed by a sizable Muslim minority.


Own up to mass Muslim detentions, Amnesty tells China

Updated 16 min 1 sec ago
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Own up to mass Muslim detentions, Amnesty tells China

  • Beijing has tightened restrictions on Muslim minorities to combat what it calls Islamic extremism and separatist elements in Xinjiang
  • Critics say the drive risks fueling resentment toward Beijing and further inflaming separatist sentiment

BEIJING: China must come clean about the fate of an estimated one million minority Muslims swept up in a “massive crackdown” in its far western region of Xinjiang, Amnesty International said Monday.
Beijing has tightened restrictions on Muslim minorities to combat what it calls Islamic extremism and separatist elements in Xinjiang.
Critics say the drive risks fueling resentment toward Beijing and further inflaming separatist sentiment.
In a new report, which included testimony from people held in the camps, the international rights group said Beijing had rolled out “an intensifying government campaign of mass internment, intrusive surveillance, political indoctrination and forced cultural assimilation.”
Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are punished for violating regulations banning beards and burqas, and for the possession of unauthorized Qur’ans, it added.
Up to a million people are detained in internment camps, a United Nations panel on racial discrimination reported last month, with many detained for offenses as minor as making contact with family members outside the country or sharing Islamic holiday greetings on social media.
“Hundreds of thousands of families have been torn apart by this massive crackdown,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s East Asia director, in a statement.
“They are desperate to know what has happened to their loved ones and it is time the Chinese authorities give them answers.”
Beijing has denied reports of the camps but evidence is mounting in the form of government documents and escapee testimony.
These suggest that Chinese authorities are detaining large groups of people in a network of extrajudicial camps for political and cultural indoctrination on a scale unseen since the Maoist era.
Amnesty’s report interviewed several former detainees who said they were put in shackles, tortured, and made to sing political songs and learn about the Communist Party.
The testimony tallies with evidence gathered by foreign reporters and rights groups in the past year.
Amnesty also called on governments around the world to hold Beijing to account for “the nightmare” unfolding in Xinjiang.
Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced “awful abuses” of Uighur Muslims detained in re-education camps.
“Hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of Uighurs are held against their will in so-called re-education camps where they’re forced to endure severe political indoctrination and other awful abuses,” Pompeo said in a speech.
However Pakistan, China’s biggest Muslim ally, quickly denied reports last week that it had criticized Beijing — which is pouring billions in infrastructure investment into the country — over the issue.
Religious affairs minister Noorul Haq Qadri told AFP China has agreed to exchange delegations of religious students to help promote “harmony” between Muslims and Chinese authorities.
China’s top leaders recently called for religious practices to be brought in line with “traditional” Chinese values and culture, sparking concern among rights groups.
Earlier this month draft regulations suggested Beijing was considering restrictions on religious content online, such as images of people praying or chanting.
State supervision of religion has increased in a bid to “block extremism,” and authorities have removed Islamic symbols such as crescents from public spaces in areas with significant Muslim populations.
Christians have also been targeted in crackdowns, with a prominent Beijing “underground” church shuttered by authorities earlier this month. Churches in central Henan province have seen their crosses torn down and followers harassed.