Update on Fr. Stan Swamy SJ
The campaign for the release of 83-year-old Indian Jesuit Fr Stan Swami, who was arrested on 8 October on trumped-up charges, has gained a great deal of momentum in recent days. It began with the specific purpose of pressing for Fr Stan’s release, but it has now expanded its focus considerably. The #standwithstan campaign now seeks the release of all sixteen human rights defenders who have been arrested in India over the last two years and are being held without trial.
It also calls for the repeal of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), a draconian piece of legislation which gives government agencies extensive powers to combat terrorism. It was under the terms of this legislation that Fr Stan was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). They claimed that their investigation confirmed that Fr Stan was involved with the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and that they seized propaganda material of the CPI at the time of his arrest. Fr. Stan has denied any involvement with the Maoist group or the violent episodes they have been responsible for. He has worked tirelessly as a tribal rights activist based in Jharkhand for the last five decades, fighting especially on issues concerning the Adivasi communities (a collective term for the indigenous Indian tribes), relating to land, forest and labour rights.
He is the 16th human rights defender who has been arrested in this regard. All of them are in Taloja prison in Mumbai.
On 25th October, Fr. Stan was able to contact Fr. David Solomon SJ, his Jesuit companion in Bagaicha, for the first time. They were only able to speak together for four minutes. According to Fr Solomon, Fr Stan sounded confident, although his health remains a big concern. Fr Solomon assured him that his fellow-Jesuits are all with him and praying for him; also that his legal team is doing all that they can.
The campaign is gaining momentum every day, with large support from people of all religions, cultures, languages, communities, students, NGOs, intellectuals, human rights groups, political leaders, political parties and media. Regular updates with articles and reports of protests, campaigns, webinars etc., are available on the Jesuit Conference of South Asia (JCSA) website »