Stan's death to bring India’s rights record into global focus again
The custody death of Father Stan Swamy on Monday is likely to bring India’s rights record into focus again in western capitals where there is considerable alarm at New Delhi’s slide on human rights as well as democracy.
As the western world woke up to the news, offices and individuals tasked with monitoring human rights across the world were quick to respond.
“India: I am very saddened to hear that Fr #StanSwamy 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,” tweeted Eamon Gilmore, the European Union’s Special Representative for Human Rights.
India: I am very saddened to hear that Fr #StanSwamy 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. https://t.co/DNpNa1r8cq— Eamon Gilmore (@EamonGilmore) July 5, 2021
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders (HRDs), Mary Lawlor, who had been keeping an eye on Swamy’s condition, tweeted: “The news from #India today is devastating. Human Rights Defender & Jesuit priest Fr Stan Swamy has died in custody, nine months after his arrest on false charges of terrorism. Jailing HRDs is inexcusable.”
Horrible news to learn that Indian HRD Fr. Stan Swamy is in very serious condition&was put on a ventilator last night.He's spent 9 months in jail on unfounded charges.I’m deeply saddened&expect that every possible specialist treatment will be provided to him— Mary Lawlor UN Special Rapporteur HRDs (@MaryLawlorhrds) July 4, 2021
Last night, Lawlor had expressed concern about Swamy’s condition after learning that he was on life support. She had articulated the hope that the octogenarian priest would be provided specialist treatment.
From Washington, the Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, Nadine Maenza, tweeted: “Heartbreaking: death of Indian prisoner Father Stan Swamy after he got Covid. He was elderly priest & human rights activist imprisoned on false terrorism charges. USCIRF spoke out against his arrest & when he was denied bail as his health deteriorated.”
Swamy’s death was picked up by most major international media houses and will add to the corpus of negative coverage India has been attracting, particularly over the Modi government’s handling of the second wave of the pandemic.