Statement on the Farmers' Protest in India
Dear Arlington friends and neighbors,
Consistent with the mission of the Arlington Human Rights Commission (AHRC) to promote awareness and sensitivity to human rights and civil rights, both locally and globally, the AHRC releases this statement about human rights violations in India, the birthplace of many Arlington residents and where some residents have friends and family.
Since November 2020, farmers have been protesting in makeshift camps on the outskirts of the capital, New Delhi, against the passage of laws that propose to bring reform in the agricultural sector but which the vast majority of farmers fear will make them poorer and economically unstable. Among other things, these reforms will eliminate the minimum crop price guarantees that India’s farmers have relied on for years, making it easier for multinational corporations to exploit agricultural workers by driving down crop prices. Agriculture remains the primary source of livelihood for about 58% of India's 1.3 billion population.
The protestors have been met with a draconian response from the Indian government, including violence to protestors, the erection of barricades to restrict movement, and the shutdowns of internet and utility access at protest sites to impede regular communications about the protests and the plight of the protestors.
In recent weeks, journalists and activists from around the world have faced arrests and serious charges from the Indian government. Because these actions are contrary to the democratic principle of the right to assemble peacefully, we express solidarity with the Indian farmers. The AHRC also stands with those who are demanding the immediate release of activists and journalists who have been wrongfully charged with sedition for protesting and reporting on these protests.
Several members of the House of Representatives have already expressed support for the Indian farmers, along with climate activist Greta Thunberg, musician Rihanna among others. We urge residents in Arlington to stay informed and aware of these issues and write to their elected representatives to make statements in support of the farmers.
Sources UN Charter - Rights to assembly
US media coverage: Vox explainer: Video, Trevor Noah Guardian article Arrest of journalists CNN: Internet cuts Attacks on a journalist, Activists - Nodeep Kaur
Find your representative: in the House & in the Senate
Supporting social media posts
Rep. Jim McGovern, Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Rashida Tlaib
Meena Harris, Greta Thunberg, Rihanna
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