I am writing to invite you and your parish community to support an urgent action in solidarity with the imprisoned Indian Jesuit, Fr Stan Swamy SJ who celebrates his 84th birthday on 26 April. Fr Stan was imprisoned last October on baseless terrorist charges which he vehemently denies. He has now spent over 180 days, including Christmas and Easter, behind bars in Taloja prison in Mumbai.
An international campaign – Stand with Stan – has attracted huge support. In Britain, politicians of all parties have raised his situation in Parliament. The Provincial, Fr Damian Howard SJ, participated in a demonstration outside the High Commission of India last year and has also co-signed a letter to the media with Cardinal Vincent Nicholls calling for Fr Stan to be bailed. Shortly before Easter, a bail application to secure Fr Stan’s release because of his age and infirmity (he has Parkinson’s disease) was rejected by the Indian courts. A statement from the Curia in Rome strongly condemned the decision of the Court and said: “We stand united with Stan and many other human rights defenders at this crucial juncture. We commit ourselves to continue our effort, both nationally and internationally, to bring truth and justice to light and advocate for the rights of vulnerable people in a peaceful, non-violent way.”
You are invited to send Fr Stan a birthday or Easter greeting expressing your solidarity with him. The card can be very simple; a postcard or even a piece of folded paper. Please send it by 21 April in an envelope to: Fr Stan Swamy SJ, c/o Jesuit Missions, 11 Edge Hill, Wimbledon, London SW19 4LR. We intend to present the cards to the Indian High Commissioner on Fr Swamy’s birthday. Please note that it would be great to get as many individually signed cards from members of your parish community as possible. We want the volume of cards presented to the High Commissioner to be as large as possible.
Fr Stan has devoted his life to working for the poorest and most marginalised people in India. The Indian government has pursued a campaign of harassment against Fr Stan and other human rights activists in recent years. As Fr Stan said in a video message recorded just two days before his arrest: “What is happening to me is not something unique or happening to me alone. It is a broader process that is taking place all over the country… I am happy to be part of this process because I am not a silent spectator but part of a game and ready to pay the price for it, whatever be it.”Fr Stan embodies the Christian ideal of service and sacrifice. Please join us in sending him a message of hope and solidarity this Easter
With many thanks,
Director, Jesuit Missions
11 Edge Hill,
London SW19 4LR
+44 (0)208 946 0466 – www.jesuitmissions.org.uk