Fr. Cedric Prakash belongs to the Gujarat Province of the Society of Jesus in India. He is a well-known human rights, reconciliation and peace activist, with a focus on advocacy; also, a prolific writer on subjects related to justice, peace, environment, contextual spirituality and the Constitution of India. On 2 October 2001(birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi) he founded ‘Prashant’ the Ahmedabad-based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice & Peace (he was its Director till January 2016).
Beginning 27 February 2002, Gujarat was engulfed in what is commonly referred to as the ‘Gujarat Carnage’. Fr. Prakash has been one of the voices that has championed the cause of the Muslims, who were victims of fundamentalist forces in this carnage. He has since been involved in a relentless campaign for the rights of the victim-survivors together with several other groups and networks and particularly with the ‘Citizens for Justice and Peace’. (In June 2002, he testified before the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in Washington, on the reality of the Muslims of Gujarat. He is currently engaged in Advocacy work related to Fr Stan Swamy and other human rights defenders incarcerated under the UAPA and other draconian laws.
Fr. Prakash is a visiting faculty in several Colleges, Seminaries and Universities both in India and abroad. Currently, he is engaged speaking to, animating and training several groups throughout the country on issues related to human rights, justice and peace. For his work in advocacy, human rights, justice, inter-religious dialogue, communal harmony and peace, Fr. Prakash is a recipient of several national and international awards / honours; which include: Mother Teresa International Award for Social Justice by the Harmony Foundation in 2013;The Legion of Honour by the President of the French Republic, for life-time commitment to the defense and the promotion of Human Rights in India in 2006 ;The Kabir Puraskar Award by the President of India – for promotion of Communal Peace and Harmony in 1995; the National Minorities Rights Award by the National Commission for Minorities in 2006 ;A few months ago, he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Delhi Minorities Commission. In 2003, the Indian Muslim Council (USA) (now the Indian American Muslim Council -IAMC) awarded him The Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Award for humanitarian work in India.
He is also deeply involved in the Ecumenical Movement. He spent over a year with the Ecumenical Christian Community of Taizé in France helping to prepare the World Council of Youth. For several years, he was the convenor and the spokesperson of the Gujarat United Christian Forum for Human Rights (GUCFHR). He is today an active member of the world-wide group of Jesuit Ecumenists.
For three years (2016-2018), Fr. Prakash was based in Beirut, Lebanon in the Regional Office of the Jesuit Refugee Service (Middle East and North Africa Region) as the Regional Advocacy and Communications Officer/Advisor, working with refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon. In collaboration with St Joseph’s University, Beirut he headed and in September 2018 completed a path-breaking research study, ‘Journeying Together’, on the situation of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
In October 2018, the Loyola Press Chicago published a brilliant coffee-table-style book ‘Sharing the Wisdom of Time’ (https://www.sharingwisdomoftime.com/ ) by Pope Francis and friends. One of Fr Prakash’s real-life stories is featured in it. Pope Francis has written a warm personal response in the book to Fr Prakash’s testimony.
In the following interview, Father Cedric Prakash discusses coal mining in Jharkhand, Adivasi rights, the Indian constitution, faith, justice, Elgaar Parishad, the Bhima Koregaon Case and Father Stan Swamy.
You can read more about the Bhima Koregaon case here: