Two dozen Christian families, or close to 158 people, have reportedly been left to starve in the remote village of Mariano Matamoros in Mexico, after local government officials raided farmlands in an effort to drive out Protestants from the region.
International Christian Concern said the raids took place last week, and resulted in the theft of close to 15 acres of crops owned by the Protestant Christian community.
"This latest incident in Chiapas is emblematic of a pervasive climate of religious intolerance that is strangling the life out of rural communities across Mexico. Perhaps the worst part is that this is happening in almost complete obscurity. Officials at every level of the Mexican government have either been ignorant of or willfully turned a blind eye toward religiously based attacks that clearly violate Mexico's own Constitution and international human rights norms," said Isaac Six, ICC's advocacy director.
Six added that such attacks have left hundreds of people homeless and thousands more in need of basic necessities. He said that ICC is calling on federal authorities in Mexico to take action to help the victims, and for the international community to investigate Mexico's human rights violations.
"No man, woman, or child should be forced to go to bed at night starving simply because of their religious convictions. This must end now," he said.
Protestant Christians have faced persecution in a number of regions in Mexico, with those in Mariano Matamoros facing pressure to "reconvert" to Catholicism or leave the village, local sources have said. Village leaders have also been punishing the Christians by cutting off water and sewage services.
Watchdog groups, such as Open Doors, have documented the persecution Christians face in Mexico, listing the nation at No. 38 on its World Watch List of countries where believers face the most extreme persecution for their faith.
Back in June, Christians from Chichiltepec village in Hidalgo state were reportedly threatened by a government official with death after attempting to meet to discuss religious persecution.
Mexican human rights organization Impulso 18 revaled that "Community Delegate" Jesus Dominguez Hernandezbecame "infuriated" and "threatened to kill all of the Christians present" when he found out believers were attempting to meet and raise concerns for their treatment.
The Christians have reportedly been told to renounce their faith, or face consequences for refusing.
ICC Advocacy Manager Jennifer Salcido said at the time: "A free society cannot flourish when religious persecution exists, and this issue has gone on for far too long while the world has looked the other way. Every citizen of Mexico has a right to practice their faith without the fear of being driven from their homes simply because of what they believe."
This article was originally published in The Christian Post.