Father Stanislaus Lourduswamy, SJ, an ailing 83 year old Indian Jesuit priest and a tribal rights activist for several decades, has been arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and accused of “Maoist terrorism” in India. But in reality, he has been defending the rights of the tribal communities living in Bihar and Jharkand areas in the country.
It is well known that Fr. Stan has been at many times in disagreement with the Indian government over tribal rights. He has been a thorn in its side. His work on empowering exploited tribals was a problem for the government which has been stubbornly determined in allowing private companies to exploit and use the abundant natural resources of Jharkhand.12
Fr. Stan had been interrogated multiple times for over 15 hours by the NIA at the Jesuit residence in Bagaicha, Ranchi in July and August. His arrest on 8 October was alleged to be in connection with the controversial Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad case in which investigators claimed activists made inflammatory speeches and provocative statements that led to violence. Fr. Stan has strongly denied any allegations linking him to the Maoist forces and believed the state has gone after him because of his dissent position with several policies of the government.13
As a part of a global community that believes in democracy, social justice and human rights protection for all, we are called to be part of the solidarity and advocacy campaign for the release of Fr. Stan and other human rights defenders who have been unjustly accused and imprisoned without trial.
Therefore, through this statement we urge and demand the National Investigation Agency, Ministry of Home Affairs and Government of India to release Fr. Stan Swamy and 15 other human rights defenders, and for the repeal of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
Long live the social justice and democracy!
Yours in Solidarity,