07/08/2022 India (International Christian Concern) – US Congressman Juan Vargas decided this week to seek an independent investigation into the death of Indian Jesuit Father Stan Swamy. Father Swamy was arrested on October 8, 2020, alongside nine other activists, on charges of collaboration with Maoist terrorists. The 85-year-old church leader languished in jail for nine months without trial under the India’s anti-terrorism laws and ended up passing away in a Mumbai hospital on July 5, 2021 due to his poor treatment in custody. Congressman Vargas said in a statement this week on July 6, “As a former Jesuit, I’m appalled that Father Stan faced relentless abuse and was denied medical treatment while in custody. It’s an honor to introduce this resolution as we remember Father Stan for his lifelong commitment to the greater good.”
The resolution, co-sponsored by fellow congressmen Andre Carson and James McGovern, petitions India to establish an independent body to investigate Father Swamy’s death. In addition to protesting his treatment while incarcerated, Congressman Vargas disputes the legality of his arrest in the first place. Vargas’ resolution asserts that Indian security agencies used malware to plant incriminating evidence on the digital devices of multiple individuals arrested in the anti-terrorism case. Vargas, defending Father Swamy’s legacy, argued, “Father Stan was a staunch human rights defender who dedicated his life to giving a voice to the voiceless.”
The day before releasing his resolution Vargas took part in an international webinar to commemorate the first anniversary of Father Swamy’s death. Other participants in the webinar included UK MP Neale Hanvey, European Parliament member Alviina Alametsä, Australian Senator David Shoebridge, UN Special Rapporteur Mary Lawlor, and other dignitaries. International attention like this on human rights abuses and religious persecution in India is certainly a positive development. While more attention and advocacy are required, we pray that this resolution from Congressman Vargas will yield results.