India Must Protect Rights of Farmers: UN Human Rights Office

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet. UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré (file photo)
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet. UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré (file photo)

Under this tyrannical situation, the casual statements from the UN Human Rights Office and other global leaders will only fall on deaf ears.

By Rakesh Raman

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has intervened to get Indian farmers’ right to protest protected.

Since the Indian government of Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi is using brute force and oppressive actions to crush the ongoing agitation of farmers, a number of global activists and leaders have condemned the Modi government.

The UN Human Rights Office also issued a statement Friday (February 5) to caution the Indian authorities about the rights of protesting farmers. “We call on the authorities and protesters to exercise maximum restraint in ongoing farmers protests. The rights to peaceful assembly and expression should be protected both offline and online. It’s crucial to find equitable solutions with due respect to human rights for all,” the OHCHR statement said.

But the Modi government which is hell-bent to suppress farmers’ voice ignores such perfunctory statements. Although human rights is a global issue, the authoritarian Modi regime counters such statements by saying that human rights violations is its internal matter in which international intervention will not be accepted.

Hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers – mainly from Punjab – have been protesting peacefully on the outskirts of Delhi for the past over 2 months against the new farm laws introduced by the Modi government. 

As farmers fear that these laws will deprive them of their farming rights and their lands will be grabbed by Modi’s capitalist friends, they are asking the Modi government to repeal these laws. But the government has refused to accept farmers’ demand.

With its evil aim to derail the farmers’ agitation, the Modi government is using its usual repression to harm protesting farmers and their families. During the past few days, the Modi government has shut Internet connectivity, erected concrete barriers, put barbed wires, and cemented sharp nails around protest sites to prevent farmers’ participation in the protests.

As Modi and his other colleagues such as Home Minister Amit Shah use police and security forces as mercenaries to unleash brutality on protesters, they are implicating farm leaders and other protesters in false cases filed under draconian laws. 

Since the complicit Indian courts do not take any action against the state excesses, many of the protesting farmers have been jailed without trial. And even journalists who are reporting about the farmers’ protests, are being jailed or harassed by filing sedition or other arbitrary cases against them.

Now, the farmers fear that the government will use mob violence to torpedo their agitation. The government-backed mobsters are already frequenting the protest sites to attack peaceful protesters and their families – including women and children – with stones, sticks, and other weapons.

Under this tyrannical situation, the casual statements from the UN Human Rights Office and other global leaders will only fall on deaf ears, and the Modi regime will continue to commit human rights abuses and crimes against humanity against citizens.

Rural Resistance: Protests by Farmers

Raman Media Network (RMN) Company – which is working in diversified content creation, management, and distribution businesses on a global scale – has launched “Rural Resistance: Protests by Farmers” editorial section.

This section under the RMN news service has been created to cover the agricultural reforms and ongoing farmers’ protests in India. It will carry news, views, and related developments and invites farmers as well as farming experts to share their views which will be published on the site.

You can click here to visit the section.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society. He also runs F A C T (Farm And Crop Times) news magazine on global farming and agricultural affairs.

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Rakesh Raman