For many people, all through two millennia, the story of Jesus Christ has been that of the son of god.
Those rebelling against oppression and injustice, struggling for human rights and democracy, have drawn inspiration from the same story of one who challenged the prevalent exploitative order, i.e. a politician and a revolutionary. Who invited those without ‘sin’ to cast the first stone.
Today my thoughts are with Father Stan Swamy, an 83-year-old human rights activist who has given his life to defend the rights of the Adivasis, i.e. the indigenous peoples of India, and who has been most cynically and unjustly jailed by a Hindu fanatic proto-fascist regime although he’s suffering from Parkinson’s and subject to other cruelties such as being denied a sipper so he can drink water (now restored after online uproar).
With the poet Varavara Rao (80), Professor G.N. Saibaba (90% disabled, for crying out loud), Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, Hem Mishra, Gautam Navlakha, Arun Ferreira, Dr Anand Teltumbde, Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal, Siddique Kappan and numerous other Prisoners of Conscience/Political Prisoners in India and elsewhere, who are among our most brilliant activists and simply ought not to have been prevented from doing the wonderful work of researching and writing about human rights issues and defending or agitating on behalf of the most vulnerable that they had been doing.
And with Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kuin of Hong Kong, who has lived and breathed human rights, civil liberties and democracy most moments of his long life. Over the past few years, he has sought unsuccessfully thus far to persuade the high officials around Pope Francis – who, to his credit, has introduced some momentous reforms including a firm stand against the death penalty — not to compromise with the Robber-Baron Capitalist Party regime in Beijing. On July 1 this year, Cardinal Zen saw his beloved Hong Kong’s soul almost entirely snuffed out by Beijing with its ‘National Security Law’.
Also with one of Hong Kong’s most prominent pro-democracy activists, Professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting, most unjustly removed from the Faculty of Law, University of Hong Kong, under diktat from the cynics in Beijing. And the numerous brilliant activists jailed in Hong Kong as well as illegally up north.
They and their comrades in Hong Kong are down.
Remembering the late Father Principal Ambrose Pinto of St Aloysius Degree College, Bangalore, who not only used to be seen regularly at pro-human rights protests on the steps of Town Hall shortly until his demise on 3 Jan 2018, but had the audacity to invite the likes of Umar Khalid (now jailed on trumped up charges), Teesta Setalvad, Shehla Rashid, Kanhaiya Kumar, Jignesh Mevani – incidentally, five of the aforementioned having been deemed the assassinated Gauri Lankesh’s children — and other activists for talks at his college and at the Indian Social Institute but when cops phoned and ordered him to desist, demanded the order in writing, knowing that none would be forthcoming, so steadfast having been his faith in the Constitution crafted by Dr B.R. Ambedkar and other visionaries.
A constitution under attack from Hindu fanatic proto-fascists.
Also remembering the Liberation Theologists of Latin America who have fought with varying degrees of albeit mostly failure — including at the cost of the lives of many of themselves — but some heart-warming patches of success, to resist horrendous US-backed right-wing regimes.
Today we celebrate the story of a birth. Of hope. Of the undying quest for justice.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!