Mumbai (Agenzia Fides) - "I deeply appreciate the overwhelming solidarity expressed by many people around the world, in these 100 days in prison. Sometimes the news of so much solidarity has given me immense strength and courage, especially when the only certain thing in prison is uncertainty", said the 83-year-old Indian Jesuit Father Stan Swamy, in prison since October 8 on charges of sedition.
Despite his age and severe form of Parkinson's from which he suffers, the Jesuit is in custody with 15 other activists and NGO members, accused, under the "Unlawful activities prevention act", of terrorism and of complicity with the Maoist rebels. All were committed to protecting the rights of the Adivasis tribe in Jhakarland. Aboriginal rights are regularly abused by large landowners or multinational corporations, violating human, social and cultural rights.
In a statement by Father Swamy, published by the Indian Jesuits who visited him in prison, the imprisoned religious said: "Another source of strength in these last hundred days has been to observe the difficult situation of the other prisoners in awaiting trial. Most of them come from economically and socially disadvantaged communities. Many of these poor people do not even know what charges have been brought against them and have never seen their indictment. They remain in prison for years, without any legal assistance. Overall, almost all prisoners are forced to live with the bare necessities, rich or poor. This condition creates a sense of brotherhood and solidarity in the community of prisoners: one learns that it is possible to support one another in spite of adversity".
In conclusion, Father Swamy recalled the other activists who were arrested with him: "We 16 co-defendants cannot meet because we are housed in different prisons or in different departments within the same prison. But we will continue to raise our voices in the future . A bird can still sing even when it is in the cage".
In the meantime, Father Arturo Sosa, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, expressed a courageous message of solidarity in a video message. "Father Stan dedicated his whole life to the poorest in the world, the indigenous Adivasi and the Dalits," said the superior general, "He is the voice of the voiceless. He has stood before the powerful and told them the truth, he is committed to defending the human rights of minorities". The Society of Jesus has launched an international appeal for his immediate release, affirming his total innocence and draws attention to his precarious health conditions.
So far, all attempts and the appeals for the release of the Jesuit priest - recently presented by three Indian cardinals in a conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi - have had no effect. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 23/1/2021)