The UN HRA stated on Tuesday that it was “saddened and distracted” by the death of 84-year-old Stan Swamy, an activist for the rights of persons imprisoned “without appropriate legal basis” during his pre-trial detention processes and asked countries like India to free
It said that during the previous three years, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet and UN independent experts have discussed the situations of Swamy, a Jesuit priest, and 15 other human rights defenders with the Indian government, urging their release.
The press letter also notes the concerns expressed in the last three years by the High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet and independent United Nations experts regarding Father Stan and 15 other human rights defenders linked to the Bhima Koregaon tragedy calling for their release from trial.
The High Commissioner has repeated his worry that human rights defenders are subject to the 1987 UAPA. In the Bhima Koregaon tragedy, UN experts voiced concern at charging human rights advocates earlier in 2018. “To silence human rights advocates who promote and preserve the rights of Indian Dalit, indigenous and tribal people, the Commission is worried about charges of terrorism brought in conjunction with the anniversary of Bhima-Koregaon.”
In October 2020, in connection with the Elgar Parishad case, Swamy was arrested and submitted to the Taloja Central Jail in Navi Mumbai by the National Investigative Agency, NIA, of Ranchi (Jharkhand).
The case at Elgar Parishad refers to alleged incendiary statements made in Pune on 31 December 2017 by several activists. The next day, in the vicinity of a war memorial on the outskirts of the city, the police said these lectures provoked violence and that people with reputed Maoists organised the gathering. Swamy suffered from Parkinson’s disease and several other ailments.