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Jesuits mourn the death of Fr. Stan Swamy

The Jesuit community continues to mourn the death of Fr. Stan Swamy, who died on July 5 in a hospital in Mumbai, India. 

The 84-year-old Jesuit priest had been in prison since October, 2020. Fr. Stan had been accused of terrorism, but he always denied the charges, saying he was being targeted for advocating for the rights of the indigenous adivasis in Jharkhand.

Jesuit Priest, Human Rights Activist
“We are all aware of how prominent intellectuals, lawyers, writers, poets, activists, student leaders, they are all put into jail just because they’ve expressed their dissent, or raised the questions about the ruling powers of India.”

Fr. Xavier, who knew Fr. Stan for more than 30 years, had a video call with his fellow Jesuit just two weeks before his death.

Secretary for Social Justice and Ecology, Society of Jesus
“I was saddened to see the way he looked: very frail, very weak, and he was on the bed, could not speak much, but he was happy to see (me) because I've known him for more than 30 years. When I mentioned that we are speaking for you and praying for you, he said, 'Not only for me.' Immediately he said, 'There are hundreds and thousands of people who are suffering unjustly in the prison. They need to be released.'”

Fr. Xavier highlights Fr. Stan's commitment to defending oppressed indigenous communities to the very end.

Secretary for Social Justice and Ecology, Society of Jesus
“We really are grateful for the life of Fr. Stan Swamy, who has been an inspiration, a source of hope. Life-giving, life-promoting for the marginalized communities. And so in a way, we are celebrating his life.”

The priest suffered a cardiac arrest on Sunday morning and never woke up. He died a day before the court was to hear his bail appeal. Despite suffering from Parkinson's Disease, Fr. Stan's bail appeal on medical grounds had been rejected.

Secretary for Social Justice and Ecology, Society of Jesus
“I consider this as a political murder by the state, in connivance with the court as well. A man who was standing and speaking with the voice of the indigenous.”

But Fr. Stan's mission doesn't end with his death. It will surely be taken up by the countless people he inspired, in India and beyond.