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India: Minorities - “Stand with Stan:” Christian groups demand immediate release of the activist-priest

Chorus for Fr. Stan Swamy’s release gets louder

Sunday 11 October 2020, by siawi3

Source: https://sabrangindia.in/article/stand-stan-christian-groups-demand-immediate-release-activist-priest

Minorities
Stand with Stan: Christian groups demand immediate release of the activist-priest

Activists and civil society groups wonder if Stan Swamy’s arrest is an attempt to silence voice of Tribal rights

Sabrangindia 10 Oct 2020

Stan swamy
Image: PTI

The Christian community of India is uniting in its demand for the release of tribal rights activist Father Stan Swamy, an 83-year-old Jesuit priest arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) from his from his home in Bagaicha, Ranchi, at night on October 8 on trumped up charges of involvement in the Bhima Koregaon case.

The oldest person to be questioned and arrested in the Elgar Parishad case, Fr. Stan, has been sent to judicial custody until October 23 by a Special NIA court on October 9. Since the news of his arrest first broke, secular citizens, activists, religious and secular groups have all spoken in one voice in solidarity with Fr. Stan.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) has expressed “deep sorrow and anguish” at his arrest and said Fr. Stan “has spent a major portion of his life giving yeoman service to the tribals and the downtrodden in the state of Jharkhand. According to our reports Fr. Stan has for decades been working to protect the rights of the Adivasis, especially their land rights. This could have worked against the interests of certain people. When questioned during the months of July- August 2020 by authorities, Fr Stan Swamy has fully cooperated with Investigating Agencies and has provided detailed statements, claiming to be innocent in the case.”

The CBCI stated that it was “difficult to comprehend the plight of an octogenarian with several morbidities, like Fr Stan Swamy to have to undergo such difficulties during this pandemic in which even a normal healthy person would hesitate to travel or would never travel risking one’s life.”

The CBCI has made a strong appeal to the authorities to immediately release Fr Stan Swamy and to permit him to go to his residence. “The Catholic Community has always been lauded by all as a body of loyal, law abiding and service minded citizens of Mother India. The community has always been contributing to nation building and continues to collaborate with the government in working for the common good of all Indians and the progress of our nation. We earnestly urge that the rights, duties and privileges of all citizens are duly safeguarded, and peace and harmony prevail among all,” stated CBCI.

Issued by Archbishop Felix Machado, secretary general CBCI, the statement reiterates that the “Catholic Church is very grateful to all people of goodwill, people from all walks of life, belonging to all religions, and all institutions that have come out in an overwhelming support for Fr Stan Swamy’s immediate release and safe return to his residence.”

The All India Catholic Union (AICU), formed in 1919, representing the Catholic Laity also issued a strong statement of solidarity. The AICU national president Lancy D Cunha, has called for the immediate release of Fr Stan Swamy. The AICU, which speaks for the 1.6 core ordinary Catholics in the country, has “expressed its apprehensions that the arrest of the frail, old and ailing activist in the midst of the extraordinary situation created by the Corona pandemic, seems part of a project to silence dissent and protest against alienation of the natural and forest resources of the Tribals.”

Catholic Union national president Lancy D’Cunha said the ordinary Catholic women and men stood in solidarity with Fr. Stan, a national hero, and with the country’s Tribals whose struggles the Jesuit priest had espoused for more than half a century. Every citizen of India who has respect for the constitution and the rights of the poor, the Dalits, the disposed and the Tribals,makes common cause with these peoples’ movements, Mr D’Cunha .

The AICU has also expressed its “happiness that the solidarity for Fr Stan has extended far beyond the Christian community and the Tribals, who have agitated on the roads in Ranchi and other places. Civil society movements in India and abroad have expressed the concern at the manner in which Fr. Stan was picked up after several months of harassment, raids, and questionings.”

Related:

Chorus for Fr. Stan Swamy’s release gets louder

CJP, other groups, activists and citizens condemn Fr. Stan Swamy’s arrest

83-year-old human rights defender Father Stan Swamy sent to Taloja Jail!

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Source: https://sabrangindia.in/article/chorus-fr-stan-swamys-release-gets-louder

Chorus for Fr. Stan Swamy’s release gets louder

Nationwide call to demand the Priest’s release given for October 12

Sabrangindia 10 Oct 2020

Photo: Stan swamy

Shocked at the regime’s apathy towards an octogenarian, more words of support and solidarity are pouring in for Fr. Stan Swamy, a Jesuit Priest who has been working to empower Adivasis for decades.

The Society of Jesus (Jesuits) themselves have issued a statement condemning the arrest and jailing of Fr. Stan Swamy saying that they were “deeply pained” that the “National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested Fr. Stan Swamy SJ, an 83 year old Jesuit, belonging to Jamshedpur Jesuit Province, from his residence in Ranchi, Jharkhand – India,” and that “The NIA accuses him of personal links with the banned extremist groups of Maoists and Naxalites.”

Putting to rest all doubts about Fr. Stan’s work and affiliations the statement says, “Fr. Stan, a human rights defender has been in Bagaicha, a Jesuit-run Social Action Centre, for the past 15 years, primarily working with the Adivasis (Indigenous community), for the defense, propagation and protection of their rights as enshrined in the Constitution of India.”

It adds, “Stan professed his commitment to the Constitution of India and peaceful means of expressing dissent while questioning any form injustice done to the vulnerable adivasis by state and police. He always dared to speak truth to power and expose the large-scale abuse of power using anti-terror and sedition laws and land grabbing without due process of consultation as required. He also meticulously documented and published the untold sufferings of hundreds of Adivasi youth, who were falsely implicated and imprisoned for exercising their right to defend their resources.”

The Society of Jesus concludes its statements saying, “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 immediate release and refrain from arbitrary arrests of innocent law abiding citizens.” The entire statement may be read here.

Meanwhile, two Christian Members of Parliament from Meghalaya have also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding the release of Fr. Stan Swamy highlighting his age, health concerns and work to empower oppressed sections of society. In their letter, Dr. Wanweiroy Kharlukhi (Rajya Sabha MP from Meghalaya) and Vincent H. Pala (Lok Sabha MP from Shillong) have said, “Fr. Stan is suffering from various age-related illnesses including Parkinson’s disease and needs regular medical attention. Given his age and health condition, his reputation as a prominent Christian leader of a reputed Jesuit Order and yeoman services he has rendered to marginalized sections of society in the country, may we please take the liberty of requesting your office to consider releasing him from detention.”

The letter goes on to remind the Prime Minister that Frs. Stan had cooperated fully with investigation authorities. The MPs also say, “Many Christians amongst our community are being framed in cases where they are actually not involved, and the best example is Fr. Stan who would continue to cooperate with investigation agencies as he has so far by providing detailed statements in July and August 2020.”

The entire letter may be read here.

Photo: Stan swamy

Meanwhile, several activists, individuals and organisations have given a nationwide call for demanding his release on October 12.

Related:

CJP, other groups, activists and citizens condemn Fr. Stan Swamy’s arrest

83-year-old human rights defender Father Stan Swamy sent to Taloja Jail!