A Conservative Party politician has called on the Foreign Office to”make representations” to the Indian government over the treatment and death in custody of an Indian Jesuit priest.
Speaking during Foreign, Commonwealth and Development questions in the House of Commons this morning, Simon Fell, Member of Parliament for Barrow in Furness, said that “Fr Stan Swamy, aged 84, died in custody with Parkinsons only a couple of years ago.”
In his lifetime, Fr Stan Swamy SJ stood with the excluded, championing the rights of indigenous people in India.
Fr Swamy was arrested and imprisoned in 2020 accused of crimes against the government of India and his supposed involvement in violence surrounding the 2018 Bhima Koregaon protests. He died of Covid-19 in July 2021 after spending 7 months in an Indian prison.
An investigation by Massachusetts-based digital forensics firm Arsenal Consulting concluded that the evidence that resulted in Fr Swamy’s arrest was the result of a cyber campaign over a four-year period during which time which falsified evidence was planted on the priest’s computer.
In response to Mr Fell’s plea, Foreign,Commonwealth and Development Office Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyn said that the British government “engages broadly with India on all range of human rights matters” and emphasised that “where the government has concerns we always raise them directly with the government of India. Lord Ahmed (Nazir Ahmed, Baron Ahmed) last raised these issues … with the Indian Minister for External Affairs in New Delhi at the end of May.”
The UK Jesuit Province has said that on Tuesday 20th June 2023, supporters plan to gather at the High Commission of India for a silent vigil and presentation of a petition calling on the Indian Government to clear Fr Stan’s name. The petition has already gathered nearly 6000 signatures, and a petition in Jharkhand has already received over 10,000 signatures.
“Fr Stan stood with the excluded,” said a spokesperson for the Jesuits in Britain.
“Jesuit Missions and the Jesuits in Britain are standing in solidarity with his legacy and appealing to the Indian government to clear the name of this innocent man.
If you would like to sign the petition please click here
Story by Catholic Network reporter