Indian authorities arrested Father Swamy in October 2020 and charged under anti-terrorism laws for his alleged role in inciting riots in the village of Bhima Koregaon, in western India, in 2018; and for links with the Maoist “Communist Party of India,” which has been designated by the government as a terrorist organization.
Father Swamy’s arrest provoked widespread protests, with the Kerala Jesuit Provincial, the All India Catholic Union, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Conference, the Kerala Latin Catholic Association, and the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, along with other Catholic and secular organizations demanding his release.
Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton, the Chair of the CBCEW’s International Affairs Department, assured Father Swamy that he is not forgotten, and praised his work with the “marginalised Dalit and Adivasi communities” as “an inspiration to all of us and a courageous stand for justice.”
“Father Stan is committed and determined to defend and promote the rights of indigenous people,” said Bishop Paul Swarbrick of Lancaster, the CBCEW’s Lead Bishop for Africa. “He will not rest. He will not walk away and let them be robbed. Even in his present restricted circumstances, he is doing what he can to promote their cause.” Bishop Swarbrick expressed his hope that the “good people of India [might] see laws upheld and justice prevail.”
In his message, the CBCEW’s Bishop for Migrants and Refugees, Westminster auxiliary Bishop Paul McAleenan recalled Fr Swamy’s work campaigning for those who have been denied justice. “It’s now time for us to do what Stan Swamy has been doing for years, that is demand justice for him and ask for fair and human treatment for him.” This, he said, “can only be achieved by his immediate release from prison.”
Bishop McAleenan added, “I hope that those holding [Swamy] in captivity will listen to reason, and to the voice of justice, and act accordingly. And that is by releasing him from prison – immediately – and by allowing him to return safely and without fear to his community.”
Finally, Bishop John Arnold of Salfor, the Chair of international Catholic aid organization CAFOD, offered a prayer for Fr Swamy, saying:
Let’s pray for Father Stan Swamy.
For his courage and strength in enduring such injustice.
May he witness to his faith and to truth in these days.
But let’s also pray for his captors.
We ask that they may begin to glimpse the wrong that they inflict on Father Stan.
Help them to recognise injustice in their actions and guide them to the truth
And to recognise the dignity of those whose lives they control and to restore freedom to those who are innocent.
Lord, stay close to Father Swamy, particularly in these days,
And keep him in Your peace, strengthened always by Your love.