The death of renowned activist and Jesuit priest 84 year old Father Stan Swamy, who was arrested, jailed last year under draconian UAPA in connection with the Elgar Parishad case and repeatedly denied bail by courts, has triggered an outrage against Narendra Modi government’s investigation agencies and India’s draconian anti-terror laws from rights activists, political leaders, intellectuals and community leaders worldwide.
Mary Lawlor, a United Nations Special Rapporteur for human rights defenders said that the news from India today is devastating.
“The news from India today is devastating. Human Rights Defender and Jesuit priest Father Stan Swamy has died in custody, nine months after his arrest on false charges of terrorism. Jailing HRDs is inexcusable,” Lawlor tweeted.
She attached a link to a YouTube video in which Stan Swamy explains his work and was shot before the National Investigation Agency (NIA) officials swooped down on his home in Jharkhand’s Ranchi in October 2020, in a late-night op.
On 3 November 2020, Lawlor, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and Fernand de Varennes, UN special rapporteur on minority issues sent a letter to the Indian Government on the arbitrary detention of Father Stan Swamy.
Eamon Gilmore, the European Union’s Special Representative for Human Rights, re-tweeted Lawlor’s post and said: “India: I am very saddened to hear that Father Stan Swamy has passed away. A defender of indigenous peoples’ rights. He was held in detention for the past 9 months. The EU had been raising his case repeatedly with authorities.”
Six months ago, the United Nation’s Human Rights office expressed serious concern over the condition of under trial prisoners in Elgaar Parishad including elderly activists Stan Swamy and Vara Vara Rao in India.
In India, Congress former chief Rahul Gandhi, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren and his Kerala counterpart Pinarayi Vijayan, former Jammu and Kashmir CM Mehbooba Mufti and CPIM general secretary Sitaram Yechury have posted messages of tribute and condolences and accused the Union government of “killing the country’s prominent hunan rights defender.”