Fr Stan Swamy SJ Dies in India at Age 84

Suffered Persecution, Dedicated Life to Marginalized People in India

Fr Stan Swamy
Fr Swamy - Bishops' Conference of England and Wales

Fr Stan Swamy SJ has died in India at Age 84.

Dr. Stanislaus D’Souza SJ, the Jesuit Provincial of India has announced: “With a deep sense of pain, anguish, and hope we have surrendered Fr Stan Swamy, aged 84, to his eternal abode.” He was a long-term sufferer of Parkinson’s disease, and his imprisonment in October 2020 made his condition worse.

Fr Stan dedicated his life to marginalized people in India, for which he will forever be remembered, according to the announcement of his death in Jesuit Missions. He fought hard for the land rights of Adivasi and Dalit communities against multi-national companies and mining businesses. Fr Stan was unfairly arrested by the National Investigation Agency of India on fictitious charges about his advocacy work being linked to Maoist terrorism, the Jesuit Provide insisted.

Fr Stan spent seven months in prison before being admitted to hospital in late May by the Bombay High Court. Since then, he remained in hospital in a critical condition after being tested positive for COVID-19.

Fr Stan’s injustice brought about a worldwide campaign from the Jesuit community and beyond as people grew concerned for brave but fragile the 84-year-old. He was imprisoned alongside 15 other human rights activists on the same charges and the campaign for their release continues.

From October 2020, Jesuit Missions campaigned for Fr Stan Swamy’s release. Various campaigning actions were taken. including 2 protests outside the High Commission of India, encouraging supporters to write letters to their MPs, and over 1,000 birthday cards being sent to the Jesuit Missions office for Fr Stan.

Their efforts were met with questions being raised in the House of Commons, a letter from the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office, and a letter being published in the telegraph.

His case highlighted the broken injustice system of India and the governments’ dangerous reaction to those wishing to speak freely on injustice issues.

Dr. Stanislaus D’Souza SJ said, “The Society of Jesus at this moment, recommits itself to take forward the legacy of Fr Stan in its mission of Justice and Reconciliation”.

Fr Damian Howard SJ, Provincial Superior of the British Jesuits, said: “The Jesuits in Britain are deeply saddened by the death of Fr Stan Swamy. He was a Jesuit who went where the need was greatest. His fidelity to his mission right to the end is his last expression of service to the poor whose rights he defended for so long. It is now for us to continue to stand against injustices all over the world as he did.”

The Chair of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales Department for International Affairs, Bishop Declan Lang, has paid tribute to Fr Swamy.

Bishop Lang said:

“Father Stan Swamy SJ worked tirelessly for fifty years to defend the human dignity of India’s most marginalized people. For this, he was unjustly imprisoned and denied his own rights. His life and legacy are a powerful lesson for us all, of selfless service to others.

“Today our prayers are with Fr Stan, the Church in India, the global Jesuit community, and all those who he helped. May he rest in peace.”

Earlier this year, Catholic Bishops from the Department for International Affairs recorded messages of prayer and support for Fr Stan Swamy as he marked his 84th birthday in prison. In January, Cardinal Vincent Nichols joined with the Provincial of the Jesuits in Britain to call for his immediate release.