Ahmedabad, Jan 21, 2016: Jesuit priest and a relentless Modi critic Rev Cedric Prakash SJ of Mangaluru, is set to move to Beirut after 42-year of work in human rights in Gujarat.
Rev Prakash (65) will work among the thousands of internally displaced people in Beirut. He has been a regular visitor to Mangaluru.
In his new mission, he will be coordinating the `universal mission’ of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) for Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Palestine, Israel, Sudan and Chad.
His work involves ensuring that refugees are accorded the rights guaranteed by the 1951 Geneva Convention.
The priest founded PRASHANT, the Jesuit centre for human rights in Ahmedabad in 2001.
Since the 2002 Gujarat riots, he has been a relentless critic of the then chief minister Narendra Modi, over his alleged role in the riots.
He had spearheaded the campaign against Gujarat’s new anti-conversion law The Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act 2003, which he later challenged in 2009 in the high court.
"The struggle in Gujarat is not over. We will demand the values enshrined in our Constitution and will carry on the struggle for the marginalized and victims of violence," said Rev. Prakash.
The priest has received several national and international awards which include the Kabir Puraskar by the President of India in 1995 for harmony, Chevalier de la Legion Honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honour) by the French President in 2006 for human rights causes as well as the Indian government’s Minority Rights Award.
It was during his visit to Lebanon in July 2015 that he had finally made up his mind about Beirut.
"In 1974, I was inspired by Pedro Arrupe, a Jesuit who worked among Vietnamese boat refugees. Arrupe founded the JRS," Rev Cedric said.
On his new mission to JRS Rev Prakash said, "The refugee crisis in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA), especially in the light of ISIS today cannot be seen in isolation of powerful lobbies and other vested interests. There is very little political will. The arms and ammunition industry plays a crucial role in MENA and so do mercenaries of every colour."