It was in this context that the Society of Jesus in India,
and later at the global level, launched a campaign to raise awareness and
support for the cause of Fr Stan and his fellow prisoners. Mobilisation,
communication and public advocacy, coordination of meetings of advocacy groups
at the international level. Jesuit institutions from all continents
participated. Many creative protest actions were organised: signature drives,
songs and poems, masses and prayer vigils, webinars, human chains, letters to
Indian embassies in various countries and even demonstrations outside
embassies. More than 1,370 articles in India and nearly 200 more in the
international media have been published on the subject.
What has it all come to? Valeria Méndez admits: “Although
the campaign helped to raise awareness about the plight of Stan Swamy and human
rights defenders and also about the erosion of democracy in India, although it
created a global solidarity movement, it did not succeed in getting Father Stan
released on bail. What lessons have been learned?
• First, the importance of clarity in the case of
injustice and the necessity of speaking with a prophetic voice. Standing with
the adivasis highlighted the
belonging to the mission of ‘faith, justice and reconciliation’ of the Society
• The importance of the process of networking that has
made it possible to have an impact in many countries and at the level of
• The need for both institutional and grassroots
support. The General Curia of the Jesuits and Church authorities have made
clear statements. In India, the Jesuit Conference and thousands of people have
shown their solidarity with Father Stan.
• Such a campaign significantly increases the capacity
for advocacy and communication, the number of contacts in the traditional and
social media, and with political representatives. All this is necessary to
reach a critical mass that can have a real effect.
• In the face of the failure to achieve the concrete
goal of releasing Father Swamy on bail, there is a need for even greater
efforts in relationship building at the political level and in advocacy.
the positive side, the campaign has built a global movement and a sense of
solidarity and justice, a mutual enrichment of the participants, a sense of
belonging. The connections between the local, national and international levels
enriched the participating institutions.