Rihanna and Greta Thunberg back India’s long-protesting farmers

Vice President Kamala Harris’ niece Meena Harris, joined in with tweets supporting the farmers. “It’s no coincidence that the world’s oldest democracy was attacked not even a month ago, and as we speak, the most populous democracy is under assault. #FarmersProtest https://t.co/obmIlXhK9S— Rihanna (@rihanna) February 2, 2021

“We stand in solidarity with the farmer protests in India,” Thunberg wrote on her Twitter account. As a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I am closely monitoring the situation. Other celebrities, activists and political figures, including British MP Claudia Webbe, and U.S. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government appeared unfazed by the groundswell of virtual support. The farmers have threatened to block roads across the country on Saturday in protest against what they call harassment by government authorities, including the severing of water, power and internet services to the protest camps. Representative Jim Costa, a Democrat from California who serves on both the Foreign Affairs and Agriculture Committees. 
The unfolding events in India are troubling. Rihanna shared a news article on the Indian government blocking internet services at three farmer protest sites on Delhi’s borders and asked, “why aren’t we talking about this?! #FarmersProtest— Rep. #FarmersProtest.” 
why aren’t we talking about this?!  

Protesting farmers are seen amid tear gas smoke fired by police in an attempt to stop them from marching to the capital during India’s Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi, India, January 26, 2021. 

Altaf Qadri/AP

The farmers are demanding a repeal of three laws implemented in September last year, aimed at deregulating the country’s agriculture sector. The right to peaceful protest must always be respected,” wrote U.S. Zargar

February 3, 2021 / 11:25 AM
/ CBS News

New Delhi — Hundreds of thousands of farmers in India who’ve been locked in a defiant standoff with the government for months over controversial new laws have gained the backing of a couple major international celebrities. Scores of farmers and police were injured. Jim Costa (@RepJimCosta) February 2, 2021

The Indian government dismissed the celebrities’ tweets as “sensationalist.”

“The temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible,” said the Indian government’s external affairs ministry in a statement on Wednesday. The months-long standoff between India’s farmers and its government turned deadly on January 26 – India Republic Day, when hundreds of thousands of farmers entered the capital of Delhi, many on tractors, sparking violent clashes with police. The farmers say the laws will help big business but destroy the livelihoods of smaller farmers, who form the backbone of the agriculture sector that amounts to almost 15% of India’s $2.9 trillion economy.Eleven rounds of talks between the leaders of the farm protests and Modi’s government have failed to resolve the standoff. The Indian government on Wednesday reiterated its justification for the reforms and said it was only a “very small section of farmers in parts of India” who “have some reservations about these reforms.” The government insisted the laws were approved after a “full debate and discussion” in parliament. Standoff around the capitalIndian police have stepped up their efforts to prevent the protesting farmers from entering the capital again, ahead of a call for a second nationwide shutdown this weekend in support of the protest. Security officers, in the foreground, push back people shouting slogans during a demonstration held in support to farmers who have been on a months-long protest, in New Delhi, India, February 3, 2021. 

Manish Swarup/AP

Internet services were shut down earlier this week at three key highway entry points into Delhi where the farmers have been camped out for more than two months. Several Indian news outlets reported that the police had put up iron spikes, barbed wire and concrete walls at various entry points to the capital. Human Rights Watch has called on the Indian government to drop legal cases against eight journalists who were arrested after their reporting on the January 26 protests and clashes. 

Security personnel stand guard at an entry point into New Delhi, ahead of a march in support of farmers protesting against the central government’s recent agricultural reforms in New Delhi, February 3, 2021. 

MONEY SHARMA/AFP/Getty

“The Indian authorities’ response to protests has focused on discrediting peaceful protesters, harassing critics of the government, and prosecuting those reporting on the events,” said HRW South Asia director Meenakshi Ganguly. We ALL should be outraged by India’s internet shutdowns and paramilitary violence against farmer protesters,” wrote Harris. “The unfolding events in India are troubling. As a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I am closely monitoring the situation. The right to peaceful protest must always be respected. This is related. At least one farmer was killed when his tractor overturned. Warning to Twitter The Indian government warned Twitter on Wednesday that it could take some unspecified action against the social media platform for its move to “unilaterally” un-block more than 250 accounts that it suspended on Monday, at the government’s request, over the use of a controversial hashtag related to the farmer protests. The government had labelled the tweets using the hashtag, which accuses officials of planning a “genocide” of farmers, part of a, “motivated campaign to abuse, inflame and create tension in society on unsubstantiated grounds.” 

“Incitement to genocide is not freedom of speech; It is a threat to law and order,” the government has insisted in its warnings to the social media company to comply. 
First published on February 3, 2021 / 11:25 AM Rihanna and Greta Thunberg back farmers locked in a protest standoff with India’s government

By Arshad R. Singer Rihanna and environmental activist Greta Thunberg have used their huge followings on social media to shine a spotlight on the farmers’ protest.