East Indian Archbishop Gets Ethnic Groups to Make Peace

Mediates Between 2 Tribes Comprising Protestants and Non-Christians

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GUWAHATI, India, JULY 17, 2003 (ZENIT.orgFides).- A Catholic archbishop has succeeded in bringing feuding tribal groups in the east Indian state of Assam to make peace.

Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil of Guwahati offered to mediate in the conflict between the Dimasa and Hmar tribes people after three similar government attempts failed.

Violent fighting in the past three months between ethnic groups in the mountainous district of Cahar in Assam state left more than 100 dead and 1,000 homeless.

The archbishop’s advice for peace was simple: «stop violence, stop provoking statements, start meetings for dialogue and collaboration.» The sides agreed to take part in the meetings inaugurated by the archbishop and now peaceful coexistence has been resumed.

At the root of the conflict were economic and political questions connected with land.

The Dimasa have lived in Assam for a long time and in recent years have reached an improved level of development. The Hmar have a much higher level of education. Whereas there are no Christians among the Damasa, most of the Hmar are Baptists and Presbyterians.

That no Catholics were involved in the matter eased the work of Archbishop Menamparampil, who was seen by both sides as a neutral mediator.

This is not the first time that the archbishop of Guwahati used his peace-building charisma.

In 1996 he helped the re-pacification of the Bodo and Adivisi peoples and in 1997 he solved a long-running dispute between Kuki and Paite in Manipur. In Guwahati he opened a Peace Center for the theoretical and practical study of reconciliation, nonviolence and peace.

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