Justice for imprisoned Fr Stan Swamy SJ | Act Now
On 8 October, Fr Stan Swamy, an elderly Jesuit priest from Ranchi in India, was unfairly arrested and imprisoned. We urgently need your help to free him.
Fr Stan Swamy SJ, aged 83, has been unjustly arrested and detained by the National Investigation Agency of India. They have falsely accused him of having links with banned extremist groups.
Two days before his arrest, Fr Stan posted a video statement and said:
“What is happening to me is not unique. Many activists, lawyers, writers, journalists, student leaders, poets, intellectuals, and others who stand for the rights of Adivasis, Dalits, and the marginalised… are being targeted and put into jail.”
Fr. Xavier Jeyaraj SJ, Secretary of the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat of the Jesuits in Rome and who knows Fr Swamy, said:
“We, as Jesuits involved in works of education, caring and defending the rights of the poor and the vulnerable all over the world, stand in solidarity with Stan and other human rights defenders in India and strongly condemn the arrest of Fr Stan Swamy, demand his immediate release, and request the State to refrain from arbitrary arrests of innocent law abiding citizens.”
Fr Stan Swamy is just one of many prominent human rights defenders who have been arrested recently in India following caste-based violence in 2018. 15 other people have also been detained on similar charges including some of India’s most-respected scholars, lawyers and academics. Some have contracted Covid-19 in prison.
To help free Fr. Swamy, we must act now.
Send a letter to your MP demanding the Foreign Secretary take urgent action.
We have created a template of a letter below. Please copy and paste it. You can send it to your local MP, online here.
Dear [Name of MP]
I am writing about the Indian Jesuit priest and human rights defender, Fr Stan Swamy SJ, who has been taken into custody by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) of India for alleged Maoist links. Fr Stan is 83 years old and in poor health. For 50 years, he has worked tirelessly for the poor and marginalised of India especially its indigenous people.
I am concerned about the apparent harassment of Fr Stan who, between July and August 2020, was interrogated multiple times for over 15 hours by the NIA about the Elgar Parishad event that preceded the violence between Dalits and Marathas at Bhima Koregaon near Pune on 31 December 2017. The NIA falsely accuses him of having personal links with the banned extremist groups of Maoists and Naxalites.
Fr. Stan is the most recent of 16 people to have been detained in connection with this incident. Others include well-known human rights lawyers Arun Ferreira and Sudha Bharadwaj, and writers Vernon Gonsalvez and Varavara Rao.
Fr. Stan has always denied having ever been to Bhima Koregoan and strongly rejects any suggestion that he is linked to Maoist forces. He believes that the state is harassing him because of his opposition to certain government policies and his struggle for the rights of the Adivasis. He has meticulously documented the suffering of hundreds of Adivasi youth, who were falsely imprisoned for exercising their right to defend their land.
In a video statement made two days before his arrest, Fr Stan said:
“What is happening to me is not unique. Many activists, lawyers, writers, journalists, student leaders, poets, intellectuals, and others who stand for the rights of Adivasis, Dalits, and the marginalized and express their dissent to the ruling powers of the country are being targeted and put into jail.”
There has been swift and strong condemnation of Fr Stan’s arrest.
The Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India:
“…makes a strong appeal to the concerned authorities to immediately release Fr. Stan Swamy and to permit him to go to his residence.”
Fr George Pattery SJ, President of the Jesuit Conference of South Asia, has also called for Fr Stan’s release adding:
“We are shocked and dismayed to know that Fr Stan Swamy SJ, who has been working all his life for the uplift of the downtrodden and other vulnerable people, has been taken into custody by the NIA.”
A petition calling for Fr. Stan’s release has collected more than 47,000 signatures in 3 days.
In the House of Commons on 6 July, Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP, the Foreign Secretary said:
“this Government (is) absolutely committed to the United Kingdom becoming an even stronger force for good in the world: on climate change, as we host COP26; as we champion 12 years of education for every girl in the world, no matter how poor their background; and on human rights, where we will defend media freedoms and protect freedom of religious belief; and, with the measures we are enacting and announcing today, hold to account the perpetrators of the worst human rights abuses.” (Hansard vol 678, col 663)
In light of this, I urge you to write to Mr Raab asking him to investigate this matter urgently; and to call on the Indian government to safeguard Fr Swamy’s health and well-being; finally to release Fr Swamy immediately and return him to his community.
Please let me know of any response you receive from the FCDO.
Thank you for your assistance.