Jesuit Missions calls for release of Indian Jesuit
The arrest and imprisonment of Fr Stan Swamy SJ, an 83-year old Indian Jesuit, has led to thousands of people signing a petition for his release.
Fr Stan a well-known activist for the rights of Dalits and Adivasi (tribal) people in India was arrested yesterday, 8 October 2020, by the National Investigation Agency in Ranchi, Jharkhand and accused of having links with the banned Maoists and Naxalite extremist groups, something he strenuously denies. Fr Stan is one of many prominent human-rights defenders to have been arrested recently.
Fr. Stan has worked at Bagaicha, a Jesuit-run Social Action Centre for the past 15 years, primarily alongside Adivasis on the defence and protection of their rights as enshrined in the Indian Constitution. In 2018, his room was raided twice, and he was questioned for more than 15 hours over 5 days.
Fr Stan has expressed his commitment to the Constitution of India and to a peaceful means of campaigning. At the same time, he has questioned the injustices perpetrated against the vulnerable Adivasis by the Indian state and police. He has also documented and published meticulous accounts of the suffering of hundreds of Adivasi youth, who were falsely accused and imprisoned for exercising their lawful right to defend their land and resources.
Fr Stan is charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967 under which bail is denied to the accused.
Two days before his arrest, Fr. Stan recorded this video testament which he asked to be released if he was detained.
Jesuit Missions supports unequivocally the statement released by Fr Xavier Jeyaraj SJ of the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat in Rome and demands Fr Stan’s immediate release from prison and reinstatement to his Jesuit community.
Paul Chitnis, Director of Jesuit Missions, said: “Although India is one of the great countries and cultures in the world, it is tragic to see its reputation besmirched by the arbitrary arrest of Fr Stan Swamy. Dalits and tribal people in India experience huge discrimination and injustice. We stand in solidarity with Fr Stan, his fellow Jesuits and all those working to bring justice and dignity to these marginalised people.”