Khetfield59, CC BY-SA, via Wikimedia Commons

We sympathize and accompany the grief at the passing of Jesuit Father Stan Swamy, at 84 years of age, from complications of Parkinson’s that were aggravated when he contracted Covid-19, awaiting justice. 

Father Stan was known for being a human rights activist, he dedicated the last 5 decades of his life to fighting for the rights of the tribal community in the state of Jharkhand in India. 

He was arrested in October 2020, wrongly accused in a case of violence in Bhima Koregaon village, where he claimed he had never been.

Since then, he cried out for justice, a justice that never came, as he had to face twice the rejection by the National Investigation Agency of India of his request for bail, arguing his deteriorating health and age condition. 

Even in prison, Father Stan continued to be certain of his convictions, aware that he was not the only one in the same situation, he shared a message in which he encouraged young activists to protect the rights of indigenous people, their lands, and territories.

While deprived of his freedom, Father Stan said: “A caged bird can still sing” and with this message, he once again sowed hope in our hearts.

The months he spent in prison deteriorated his health considerably, the rejections of bail prevented due care and attention, unfortunately, last July 5, at the time his lawyer announced his death, the Bombay High Court was reviewing some petitions, requesting bail and a constitutional challenge. 

Various activists, writers, and academics have spoken out against the state, stating that Father Stan’s case was not a natural death, it has been provoked due to lack of justice.

Father Stan Swamy is not an isolated case, he knew it and stated that what happened was not a unique case and unfortunately it did not happen only to him. 

So far it has not been possible to guarantee the rights of many people around the world, nor to protect those who defend them from injustice, today we honor a life dedicated to others and pray for the day when it will not be necessary to defend anyone from injustice.  

With deep sorrow, Father Xavier Jeyaraj member of the Board of Directors of the Global Catholic Climate Movement expressed:

 “We sincerely thank God for the life of Fr. Stan Swamy, who broke himself and suffered so that others may have life, life in abundance. We are confident that he will ‘not be a silent spectator even from heaven’. He will continue to stand with each one of us to help us ‘to speak the truth to power and to dedicate our lives to the poor and marginalized. May God accompany and help us live our lives fully and, following the example of Stan, stand with the marginalized and the poor in our quest for justice, equality, and freedom! Let us join together to thank God for the life of Stan!.”

Father Stanislaus Lourduswamy was born on April 26, 1937, entered the Society of Jesus in 1957, and made his perpetual vows as a Jesuit on April 22, 1981.