Farmer Protests Gain International Support, Trudeau Calls Situation 'Concerning'
Canada and UK tweets
Farmers protesting in India against the new farm laws have garnered international support, with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau becoming the first country head to speak out on the issue.
While addressing an online event on November 30 in Canada to celebrate Gurpurab, the birth of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, PM Trudeau called the situation in India “concerning”.
In a video of the event circulating online, Trudeau said, “I would be remiss if I didn’t start by recognising the news coming out of India about the protest by farmers. The situation is concerning. We are all very worried about family and friends. I know that’s a reality for many of you.”
“Let me remind you, Canada will always be there to defend the rights of peaceful protesters,” he continued, adding: “We believe in the process of dialogue and that’s why we’ve reached out through multiple means directly to the Indian authorities to highlight our concerns. This is a moment for all of us to pull together.”
Apart from PM Trudeau, many leaders from Canada and the United Kingdom have also tweeted in solidarity with protesting farmers in India, urging the Indian government to listen to the farmer’s demands and peacefully resolve the issue.
Canadian Defence Minister, Harjit Singh Sajjan tweeted: “The reports of peaceful protesters being brutalized in India are very troubling. Many of my constituents have family there and are worried about the safety of their loved ones. Healthy democracies allow peaceful protest. I urge those involved to uphold this fundamental right.”
Jagmeet Singh, leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party also took to Twitter to say, “The violence perpetrated by the Indian govt against farmers peacefully protesting is appalling. I stand in solidarity w/ the farmers from Punjab and across India - and, I call on the Indian govt to engage in peaceful dialogue rather than violence.”
MP of St. John’s East, Canada, Jack Harris tweeted criticising the repressive measures employed by the Indian government against farmers.
“We are shocked to see the Indian government's suppression of farmers protesting new laws which will endanger their livelihood. Instead of using water cannons and tear gas, the Indian government needs to engage in open dialogue with farmers,” he posted on Twitter.
Gurratan Singh, Member of Provincial Parliament, Brampton East, brought up the issue of new farm laws in India while addressing the house, urging them “to stand with farmers against these unjust laws by the Indian government.”
Criticising the government’s moves on Twitter, he said, “The Indian govt's use of water cannons and tear gas on farmers protesting mass privatization of the agricultural sector and unjust reform of farming laws is appalling. They deserve respect for feeding the nation instead of being subjected to state brutality.”
Andrea Horwath, Leader of Opposition in Ontario, Canada, tweeted: “#IStandWithFarmers in India who are protesting peacefully, as well as their loved ones here in Ontario, who are watching the violent crackdown in horror. Everyone deserves to be able to exercise their democratic rights without fear of state-sanctioned violence.”
Many in Canada have come out in support of Indian farmers, including Jasraj Singh Hallan, MP for Calgary Forest Lawn and Kevin Yarde, Member of Provincial Parliament, Brampton North among others.
Expressing solidarity with the farmers, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, United Kingdom MP for Slough and Shadow Rail Minister said, “It takes a special kind of people to feed those ordered to beat and suppress them.”
Retweeting Dhesi, John McDonnell, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, UK, also extended his support, terming the government’s behaviour as “oppressive”.
“I agree with @TanDhesi This sort of oppressive behaviour against peaceful protesters is unacceptable and tarnishes the reputation of India,” he tweeted.
In the US, Harmeet K. Dhillon, lawyer and Republican Party official, took to social media to urge PM Narendra Modi to meet and compromise with the farmers. “As the Punjab-born descendant of farmers, my heart breaks to see Punjabi farmers assaulted for protesting Indian gov't's pro-big-corporation farm bill that will destroy their farms, way of life, and culture. Hear them, meet with them, & compromise, P.M. Modi,” she tweeted.
“And for the peanut gallery, I have relatives who farm the land in Punjab. I'm confident they know what's best for them and don't need to be told that by central government bean-counters. At a minimum, in the vaunted democracy of India, they have a right to protest & be heard,” she added.
Meanwhile, thousands of farmers have congregated at the Delhi border, with some having managed to cross into the capital. Reports state that the Centre has called farmers for talks three days before December 3, the previous scheduled date for the meeting. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will reportedly meet heads of farmer unions today.
Union Minister for Agriculture, Narendra Singh Tomar announced the talks to be held today, citing “cold” and “coronavirus” as reasons for the change in date.