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Australian Jesuits stand with Fr Stan

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Jesuit Father Stan Swamy, 83, who has worked for tribal rights in India, has been arrested and placed in judicial custody until Oct. 23, 2020. The priest’s arrest on terrorist charges has triggered protest in many parts of the country and an international outcry from the Jesuits. This screenshot is from a video he made before his arrest. (CNS screenshot/YouTube)

Australian Jesuits are joining international outcry in solidarity with Fr Stan Swamy SJ; an 83 year old Jesuit arrested under ‘terrorism’ charges in by the Modi Government in India. Fr Stan is the oldest person on record to be charged with terrorism in the country. 

Based in the  Ranchi Province of India, Fr Stan was arrested by authorities earlier this month and deported to Mumbai where he is being jailed and interrogated under allegations of collaborating with Maoist rebels.

Fr. Stan denies the charges

According to the Modi Government, Fr. Stan’s case is linked to the Bhima-Koregaon area in Maharashtra state, where a violent clash occurred on January 1, 2018, in which one person was killed and several others injured.

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Fr. Stan denies the charges. For more than twelve years Fr Stan has worked to  support the Adivasi people in Ranchi-  a city in India’s north east- from being victimised by racial discrimination and environmental damage. The Adivasi comprise a substantial minority population of India with up to  8.6% of India’s population; 104.2 million people according to the 2011 census.

Kristu bhaktas (devotees of Christ) participate in a Way of the Cross March 16 at Matridham Ashram in India’s Uttar Pradesh state. Every Friday during Lent thousands of the indigenous worshippers converge for daylong prayer. (CNS photo/Anto Akkara)

“Fr Stan Swamy has been peacefully supporting the protection of rights of the Adivasi people in India for the past 15 years, in keeping with his religious vows, our Jesuit tradition and the constitution of India,” said Fr. Brian McCoy, Provincial of Australian Jesuit Province.

we stand in solidarity with Fr Swamy and other human rights defenders in India

In a campaign entitled “Stand with Stan”, Jesuit groups and organisations are hoping to throw a light on the injustice being done to the Indigenous in India. 

“As Jesuits involved in education, caring and defending the rights of the poor and vulnerable all over the world, we stand in solidarity with Fr Swamy and other human rights defenders in India, strongly condemn his arrest and demand his immediate release,” said Fr. Brian.

Demonstrators shout slogans as they hold placards during a protest outside Sacred Heart Cathedral in New Delhi in 2015 Hundreds of Christian protesters clashed with police in India’s capital as they tried to press demands for better government protection amid concern about rising intolerance after a series of attacks on churches. (CNS photo/Anindito Mukherjee, Reuters) See story to come.

In Hazaribag town, the base for Australian Jesuits in India, local Jesuits Frs. Maria Louis and Christopher Kujur organised a silent protest on the side of a main road in a 2 km chain.The Australian Jesuits have been in Hazaribag since the 1950s.

Jesuit Mission Australia is urging all supporters to join the international movement and stand in solidarity with Fr Stan. To show your support, sign the petition for his release at https://standwithstan.jcsaweb.org/

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