Canonise Fr Stan Swamy (Tribal Rights Activist)

Canonise Fr Stan Swamy (Tribal Rights Activist)

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Raymond Ramesh started this petition to Pope Francis and

Dear Pope Francis and members of the Vatican Curia,

The people of the world are deeply sadded by the custodial death of social justice activist, Fr Stanislaus Lourduswamy S.J. (26 April 1937 – 5 July 2021). Fr Stan worked tirelessly for decades towards the upliftment of the marginalised tribal communities in Jharkhand, India, empowering them and demanding protection of their human rights and dignity. In January 2021, Fr Stan was awarded the Mukundan C. Menon Award for Human Rights.

Fr Stan was targetting and falsely implicated in a fabricated case and jailed without access to bail under an archaic law. There has never been a trial, no evidence, nor conviction. Activists, journalists, and intellectuals from around the world representing various organisations and even Indian state ministers have condemned his arrest. He was 83 at the time of arrest while suffering from Parkinson's disease and other ailments, and deserved bail on health and humanitarian grounds, which was denied to him for nearly a year.

He languished in an overcrowded jail, struggling to care for himself amid minimal facilities. The attempts to harass him were clearly seen when jail authorities denied his request for a simple drinking straw for several weeks until the public shamed the authorities for mistreating this elderly man with Parkinson's disease. Despite his own struggles, in a letter to his colleagues, he wrote of his concern for fellow under-trials stating, "Many of such poor undertrials don't know what charges have been put on them, have not seen their chargesheet and just remain in prison for years without any legal or other assistance."

Fr Stan's health already being poor, he contracted CoViD19 while in jail. He grew weaker by the day, while courts continued to delay his bail hearing. His death is  widely being termed as an 'institutionalised murder' and 'a state-orchestrated homicide' - an attempt to silence dissenters in India. Seema Chishti (The India Cable) opines, "It is no coincidence that Father Stan Swamy is a Jesuit Priest in central India, where the Sangh Parivar has targeted missionaries...The insensitivity of the Indian state is not indifference. It signals encouragement to the base of the ruling party."

Fr Stan died because he was a righteous man, an exemplary Christian who courageously championed the cause for the rights of the poor, challenging the misuse of law and institutional persecution of tribals, often speaking truth to power. He was cremated, not buried, as per protocols for prisoners, despite being innocent and awaiting trial.

His martyrdom reminds us of Christ - a man who dedicated himself to the poor, his influence making corrupt leaders feel insecure who later implicate him under false pretexts, and murdered without evidence of any crime. Fr Stan followed Jesus in life and in death.

In the true spirit of Christ's teaching, Fr Stan worked for the liberation of the oppressed classes, fearlessly, tirelessly. His work was inspired by South American stalwarts - Archbishop Helder Camara of Brazil and St Oscar Romero of El Salvador. Stan made his life a living sacrifice for others. His courage, his passion for justice, his selfless love for the poor make him an exemplary Christian - a model for the rest of the world to look up to.

Fr Stan is not just an inspiration to us in India, but an inspiration to human rights activists around the world. Highlighting his life and his unjust incarceration will also throw light on the situation of 16 other human rights lawyers, trade unionists, activists, writers and intellectuals who are being held in custody without trial under a vague and unjust law called 'UAPA' (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act) and similar activists around the world who work tirelessly towards the causes of the poor.

In the words of award-winning writer Nayantara Sahgal, “The spirit of Fr. Stan lives on and the love and compassion that inspired him, will inspire us”.

We, the undersigned petioners, request you, Holy Father, members of the Curia especially including Oswald Cardian Gracias of India, to initiate the process towards the canonisation of Fr Stan Swamy as patron saint of social justice warriors, martyred by the intentional negligence of a corrupt modern judiciary.



References:
1. BBC News: Stan Swamy: India outrage over death of jailed activist
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-57718361
2. The Hindu: Fr. Stan tirelessly fought for jal, jungle and zameen
https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/fr-stan-tirelessly-fought-for-jal-jungle-and-zameen/article35155537.ece
3. A brief statement from Arsenal President Mark Spencer regarding Report I in the Bhima Koregaon case.
https://twitter.com/ArsenalArmed/status/1359468391770304515?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1359468391770304515%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_c10&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fthewire.in%2Ftech%2Frona-wilson-elgar-parishad-letters-planted-us-firm

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