Canadian Government: speak up to protect democracy and safety of protestors in India

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We, the Canadians of South-Asian descent, are increasingly worried about the human rights violations and brutalities committed by the Indian government on peacefully protesting farmers in Delhi.

God-fearing, simple- minded farmers of the country were taken aback in September, 2020, when they were informed of hastily and undemocratically passed agricultural laws that encouraged privatization in the sector and took away guarantees that ensured fair pricing of crops, thus leaving them open to corporate exploitation and threatening their livelihood. So, farmers across the country, including the elderly, women and children, have been peacefully protesting for repeal of these laws since September, 2020, before marching to Delhi, India’s capital, in November, 2020. Since then, these farmers from various states of the country have set up protests on the national highways leading into Delhi  to make their voices heard. The government’s response to these protests has been dismal, holding multiple meetings with various farm union leaders while showing unenthusiastic and non-negotiable attitudes. The Supreme Court, the superiormost justice authority of the country, tried to intervene but failed, although declaring that peaceful protests are a fundamental right of people in a democracy.

In the past 48 hours, multiple reports have been circulating on social media depicting the use of violence by the local police and government-sponsored goons to forcefully vacate the protest sites. It is horrifying to see the unjust and inhumane treatment that these older adults and youth have been subjected to while exercising their lawful right to peaceful protests. There are several reports of farmers unlawfully arrested by the police, and now unable to be located by their families. This is especially distressing to us because many of us have witnessed and endured the Indian governments atrocities over minorities, such as communal violence against Sikhs in 1984, and more recently, Kashmir violence in 2019 after revoking their limited autonomy status. The current government has shown in multiple situations its tendency to use violence and unlawful means to silence protestors and those disagreeing with the dominant narrative, labelling them anti-nationals and terrorists, such as during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in 2019. The mainstream media has been biased in labelling these protestors as separatists, while concealing the reality of the situation. The internet has been shut off several times in various protest zones to hide the truth from the outside world.

Having roots in the country and close family and friends that practice agriculture, we have been following these  developments closely since the beginning of the protests and supporting our family and friends by sharing their concerns via social media and donating to charitable organizations, such as Khalsa Aid, to fulfil basic requirements such as food and water of the protesting young and old. However, in the light of recent events, we are deeply concerned about the well-bring of these peaceful protestors, lawfully expressing their dissent over these undemocratic laws.

We take great pride in calling ourselves citizens of Canada, one of the pillarstones of peace and democracy in the world. However, with such grave injustices and human rights violations committed by a government against its citizens, it is incredibly disheartening to see the silence of our Canadian government and its representatives. We, thereby, urge our government to vocalize its position for democracy and against these human rights atrocities, because, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.