13/01/2021.- In recent weeks the campaign in solidarity with Jesuit Stan Swamy SJ and 15 other human rights defenders unjustly imprisoned in India has redoubled its efforts to call for their immediate release. Father Stan was arrested on 8 October 2020 by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) at his residence in Ranchi, Jharkhand state, India, and taken to Mumbai, Maharashtra. On 9 October 2020, he was taken into judicial custody and has since been imprisoned in Taloja prison hospital. The bail application, which was immediately filed, was rejected on 22 October 2020, despite the poor health of Father Stan (who at 83 years of age suffers from Parkinson’s disease, as well as hearing loss in both ears and other age-related ailments).
Both Father Stan Swamy and the others imprisoned in this case were accused by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) of having alleged links with Maoist and Naxalite extremist groups in connection with the Elgar Parishad event that preceded the Dalit-Maratha violence in Bhima Koregaon, Pune, Maharashtra State, on 1 January 2018.
These accusations are unfounded. Father Stan is known for his work in accompanying the most vulnerable populations and for defending the indigenous rights of communities living in situations of exclusion, and has always worked for the defence of their rights through a commitment to non-violent action.
100 days in prison
On 15 January next Stan will serve 100 days in prison. Every day he spends in prison is an injustice to him and to the other activists falsely accused of terrorism. In Stan’s case, there is also an added risk due to his delicate state of health.
Alongside with the Claretians and other religious congregations present at the United Nations we have sent this appeal for the release on bail to Fr. Stan and others to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and we are collecting signatures to demand their early release.
You can sign here and contribute to the collection of signatures by spreading the petition on your social networks with the hashtag #StandwithStan #StandwithStan100. The deadline for signing is next January 15th.
Tomorrow, Thursday 14th, from 7:00 to 7:30 (India Standard Time), the Jesuits and the friends of the Society of Jesus in India have organized a Prayer with the participation of Father General, Arturo Sosa SJ. It will be streamed in the Youtube Channel of the Indian Social Institute.