U.S. Lawyers Write to President Biden on Indian Farmers’ Protests

Tractors coming to participate in the tractor rally in New Delhi on January 26, 2021. Photo: Kisan Ekta Morcha
Tractors coming to participate in the tractor rally in New Delhi on January 26, 2021. Photo: Kisan Ekta Morcha

The letter urges President Biden to act in his capacity to denounce, condemn and raise the issues at the United Nations.

More than 40 lawyers of South Asian descent have written an open letter to the U.S. President Joe Biden, asking him to take note of the farmers’ protests and the methods of repression being taken up by the Indian government.

Noting the scale of the protests and the way the farm laws against which the protests are being held were rushed through parliament, the statement highlights how the Narendra Modi government has been keen to repress the peaceful protests by violent and illegal means, including arrests and censorship.

According to a news report of February 15 published by The Wire news service, the letter highlights the infringement of human rights in the cases of labour activist Nodeep Kaur who was tortured in jail, farmer Navreet Singh who was killed during the protests on January 26, and a doctor Swaiman Singh who was allegedly beaten while treating protesters in New Delhi.

The letter notes that not only has the state acted through mass arrests, it has also attempted to cripple communication of information by shutting down the Internet, limiting social media reach and by slapping cases on journalists. The Wire news service has published the full text of the letter and the list of its signatories.

Citing detailed examples of sustained harassment of critics and minority communities, the letter urges President Biden to act in his capacity to denounce, condemn and raise the issues at the United Nations.

According to a White House statement of February 8, President Biden has told Modi his desire to defend democratic institutions and norms around the world and noted that a shared commitment to democratic values is the bedrock for the U.S.-India relationship.

Hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers have been protesting since November 2020 against the new farm laws introduced by the Modi government.

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Rakesh Raman