UNITED NATIONS, Feb 07 (APP): The United Nations human rights office, OHCHR, has called on Indian authorities and protesting farmers to exercise “maximum restraint” hours before the protestors imposed a nationwide road blockade on Saturday seeking a repeal of new agricultural laws.
In a Tweet, OHCHR also stressed the need for equitable solutions with due respect for human rights.
“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”, the office said.
“It is crucial to find equitable solutions with due respect to human rights for all”, it added.
On Jan 27, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Tuesday called for calm in the wake of violent clashes in New Delhi between the protesting Indian farmers and the police on India’s Republic Day that left one person dead and many more injured.
“As we say in many of these cases, I think it’s important to respect peaceful protests, freedom of assembly and non-violence,” his Spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said in response to a question at the regular noon briefing in New York.
Tens of thousands of farmers have camped out on the outskirts of New Delhi for more than two months, blocking key roads and demonstrating against the laws they say will benefit large private buyers at their expense.
Though protests started off largely peacefully, violence flared on 26 January when some farmers drove into the city, clashing with security forces.
According to media reports, internet services were shut off in areas where the protesters were camped in, and barricades set up by authorities.
Meanwhile, US Vice President Kamala Harris’s niece has defended her support for protesting Indian farmers after pro-government activists burned her picture in India.
The niece, Meena Harris, reacted after members of a Hindu organization set fire to her picture in opposition to celebrities supporting the country’s farmers.
They also burned pictures of climate crisis activist Greta Thunberg and pop star Rihanna, who have both weighed in to support the farmers.
“I spoke out in support of human rights for Indian farmers, and look at the response,” said the vice president’s niece on Twitter.
Ms Harris became embroiled in the controversy when she tweeted that “the most populous democracy is under assault”.
“It’s no coincidence that the world’s oldest democracy was attacked not even a month ago, and as we speak, the most populous democracy is under assault.
This is related. We ALL should be outraged by India’s internet shutdowns and paramilitary violence against farmer protesters,” she tweeted.
Ms Harris, who is a lawyer, drew comparisons between the pro-Trump riot at the Capitol and the crackdown on protesting farmers in India.
India’s foreign ministry has condemned “vested interest groups trying to enforce their agenda on these protests, and derail them”.
Indian Prime minister Narendra Modhi’s government has been unable to end the protests or negotiate a settlement.
A number of Indian celebrities have also publicly supported their government, with the pro-Modi actress Kangana Ranaut, describing the farmers as terrorists, and the Indian cricket player Pragyan Ojha tweeting to Rihanna: “We don’t need an outsider poking her nose in our internal matters!”
Some farmers have also said that the proposed laws are worsening the suicide epidemic sweeping their industry, as Insider reported last month.
The farmers’ efforts have had some impact, but how the fight will end remains unclear.
Late last month, India’s Supreme Court ruled to suspend the new laws from being imposed last month, but farmer are refusing to back down until the laws are completely repealed – a move that the government has already vowed not to do.