Eighty-three-year-old Jesuit priest is imprisoned in India
The eighty-three-year-old Indian Jesuit, Father Stan Swamy, was arrested more than one hundred days ago, on the 8th of October, on sedition charges. Despite his age and health conditions, the Jesuit priest is in custody with fifteen other activists and NGO members, accused, under the "Unlawful activities prevention act", of terrorism and complicity with the Maoist rebels.
All of the arrested were committed to protecting the rights of the Adivasis tribe in Jhakarland. Aboriginal rights are regularly abused by large landowners or multinational corporations, violating human, social and cultural rights.
In a statement by Father Swamy, published by the Indian Jesuits who visited him in prison, the imprisoned religious said:
“I deeply appreciate the overwhelming solidarity expressed by many people around the world, in these 100 days in prison. Sometimes the news of so much solidarity has given me immense strength and courage, especially when the only certain thing in prison is uncertainty.”
Then he added that “another source of strength in these last hundred days has been to observe the difficult situation of the other prisoners in awaiting trial. Most of them come from economically and socially disadvantaged communities. Many of these poor people do not even know what charges have been brought against them and have never seen their indictment. They remain in prison for years, without any legal assistance. Overall, almost all prisoners are forced to live with the bare necessities, rich or poor. This condition creates a sense of brotherhood and solidarity in the community of prisoners: one learns that it is possible to support one another despite adversity.”
Father Arturo Sosa, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, expressed a courageous message of solidarity in a video message:
“Father Stan dedicated his whole life to the poorest in the world, the indigenous Adivasi and the Dalits,” said the superior general, “He is the voice of the voiceless. He has stood before the powerful and told them the truth, he is committed to defending the human rights of minorities.”
The Society of Jesus has launched an international appeal for his immediate release, affirming his total innocence and draws attention to his precarious health conditions.