“I may suffer, perhaps even die very soon if the deterioration of my condition continues. But whatever happens I want to be able to be among my people.”
– Fr Stan Swamy SJ, during his bail hearing last May 22
Our hearts were filled with grief when we learned that Fr Stan Swamy SJ, a Jesuit priest in India, passed away on July 5, 2021. For 50 years, he worked tirelessly for poor and marginalized communities of India. Fr Stan fought for the recognition of the rights of the Adivasis, documenting the abuse of power against Indigenous youth and those falsely imprisoned for defending their rights.
Fr Stan was incarcerated for 9 months. He suffered from Parkinson’s disease and his health continued to deteriorate while in prison. In spite of his health challenges, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) special sessions court refused to grant him bail.
Fr Stan only wanted to be with the people he served. During a bail hearing in May, he declared this desire to the court: “During these eight months, there has been a slow but steady regression of every function of my body. The Taloja prison has brought me to a condition where I am unable to write or walk on my own. I am asking you to consider why and how this deterioration of my health has occurred. I may suffer, perhaps even die very soon if the deterioration of my condition continues. But whatever happens I want to be able to be among my people.”
He was finally transferred to a hospital after contracting COVID-19.
Fr Stan’s life and death has inspired a new generation of advocates who continue to fight for truth and justice. These are men and women emboldened by the strength and courage Fr Stan showed. They will stand up for the truth, fight for the marginalized and will continue to dedicate their lives in the pursuit of a just and equal society.
Canadian Jesuits International (CJI) is grateful to our friends and supporters who joined us in sending Fr Stan a birthday card last April through the Office of the Indian High Commissioner in Ottawa. Our collective effort not only raised awareness for his unjust incarceration, but it reminded the Indian government that Fr Stan was not alone in his fight for the recognition of the rights of the most marginalized people in society.
As we commemorate the life of Fr Stan, let us not forget the 15 other human rights defenders who have been detained for the same reason as Fr Stan and continue to languish in prison while waiting for justice to be served.
We are grateful to Fr Stan for inspiring us all to continue to work for justice and peace.
Tributes to Fr Stan:
Fr Stan Swamy: A Liberated Bird Sings from Heaven!
Fr Erik Oland’s letters to the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs:
Canadian Jesuit Provincial’s Letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs – Dec 4
Canadian Jesuit Provincial’s Letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs – Oct 13
Updates on Fr Stan:
April 26 – Fr Stan turns 84 in jail!
April 14 – Canadian Jesuits call for the release of 83-year-old human rights defender
March 31 – Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat (SJES) releases a statement on Fr Stan’s bail application being denied.
March 22 – Fr Stan Swamy’s application for bail denied by the NIA court.
Feb 10 – The 12 Provincials of the Conference of Jesuit Provincials in Latin America and the Caribbean (CPAL) sends letter to their Embassies and/or Consulates requesting the release of Fr. Stan and the unjustly detained human rights defenders
Feb 10 – Washington Post article: They were accused of plotting to overthrow the Modi government. The evidence was planted, a new report says.
Jan 15 – 100 Days of Incarceration of Fr. Stan Swamy – A Challenge to Speak Truth to Power
Jan 8 – International appeal to United Nations regarding Fr. Stan Swamy SJ
Dec 16 – Elderly Indian Jesuit’s bail hearing postponed again, Saji Thomas, Union of Catholic Asian (UCA) News
Dec 10 – Joint Open Statement calling for the immediate release of Fr Stan Swamy SJ
Nov 20 – From Fr Xavier Jeyaraj SJ, SJES
Nov 17 – From Fr Xavier Jeyaraj SJ, Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat (SJES)
The 16 human rights defenders unjustly detained
Online petition to have the charges against Fr Stan dropped
Prayer for Fr Stan by the Jamshedpur Jesuits
#StandWithStan campaign – Jesuit Conference of South Asia
A Statement from the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat (SJES), Society of Jesus
America Magazine – Indian Jesuit arrested by counter-terrorism task force
Instagram account of the Jamshedpur Jesuit Province