Fr Stan Swamy SJ, an Indian Jesuit priest, was 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 poor and marginalized communities of India, especially its Indigenous people/Adivasis.
His arrest on October 8, 2020 is allegedly related to a 2017 celebratory anniversary event in Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad in Pune that drew 35,000 people. Tragically, the event ended in violence with one person dead and several injured.
Fr Stan has always denied having ever been to Bhima Koregoan and strongly rejects any suggestion he is linked to Maoist forces. Yet, Fr Stan is one of 16 people who 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 been harassed because of his opposition to government policies that affect the rights of the Adivasis. His work has included documenting the abuse of power against Indigenous youth and others, falsely imprisoned for defending their rights. Fr Stan filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in court against the state of Jharkhand on behalf of 3,000 imprisoned Indigenous people.
The Jesuit Provincial of Canada, Fr Erik Oland, has sent two letters, one on October 13 and the other last December 4, expressing deep concern about the incarceration of Fr Stan Swamy SJ, to the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs. A copy was also sent to the Prime Minister of Canada.
The Provincial’s concern centres on the circumstances surrounding Fr Stan’s arrest, unsubstantiated claims of his links to Maoist forces and the health risks posed by incarceration during a global pandemic.
To read Fr Erik Oland’s letters, please click on the links below:
Updates on Fr Stan: