Father Cedric Prakash of the Jesuit Gujarat Province has just returned from the Middle East after a three-year stint with the Jesuit Refugee Service there. On his religious vocation he says: “That is a long story: to cut it short – it was a CALL – and I said “YES” to it – and I have not regretted that decision for a single moment, ever since. I believe I am called to serve Jesus through His people. I try my best to do so: willingly and joyfully!”
Fr Cedric is an internationally acclaimed human rights and peace activist and recipient of several awards including the ‘Legion of Honour’ from the President of France and the ‘Kabir Puraskar’ from the government of India.
He was in the Middle East for three years from January 2016. He was invited by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region to work among the refugees and displaced in the Region (Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon). He was based in Beirut, Lebanon and entrusted with the responsibility of advocacy and communications for the Region. He spoke in an interview “The current scenario for human rights activism in India is very bad. We hear about threats, intimidation, arrests, foisting of false cases and even death for all those who take a stand for human rights, justice and peace.”
Lynching has become the new normal. The Government is wedded to crony capitalism: “we have seen it in demonetization and how they have mainstreamed corruption. The poor become poorer everyday.
“The fascist, fundamentalist forces must be put in place. We must hold political parties accountable for their misdeeds and ensure that they focus on Governance and on serving the people. Too much of ‘fekuism’: myths, lies, false promises have been foisted on the nation. We must ensure that we exercise our franchise and motivate all others to do so too. We need to educate people on our Constitutional values and fundamental rights. We need to engage with the media and also be active on it. Yes all of us can do plenty to stem the rot that is taking place in the country.”
“Christians and the Church in India must play a very active role in addressing the ills of the country. We cannot be fence-sitters. We have to be vocal and visible for a more just, free and equitable India. This I believe is what Jesus expects from us today.”