Indian Farmers See Support From Rihanna, Greta Thunberg, and Other Big Names
- Farmers in India have protested for months over controversial farming laws that seek to remove the government’s popular minimum sales price on crops.
- In an effort to slow down the increasingly violent demonstrations and information surrounding them, the Indian government shut down the internet in New Delhi and neighboring regions.
- High profile stars and activists have condemned the move, including Rihanna, Greta Thunberg, and Mia Khalifa.
- However, the Indian government has accused celebrities of spreading “sensationalism” and suggested they are being paid to post their support for the protests.
Farmers Hope To Save Minimum Sale Price
For months, Indian farmers have been protesting a controversial set of laws that would fundamentally change their relationship with the government and how they sell crops.
At the center of the issue are three laws. One in particular deals with what’s known as the Minimum Sale Price (MSP). The MSP is a set, guaranteed price for crops established by the government, meaning farmers are not allowed to sell below that price. It allows for farmers to compete with not only each other but also with larger corporations who could otherwise drop the price so low and push smaller farmers from the market.
For many farmers, the MSP also allows them to comfortably plan future crop cycles, knowing that can budget a likely minimum income.
There are some drawbacks to the MSP. For instance, it means that crop prices can remain high for many Indians. Additionally, if there isn’t as much demand for a given crop, farmers can’t lower their prices in an effort to at least sell some of it.
Regardless, it remains popular, and the issue is so important that some of the protests over the last few months have been among the largest in human history. At one point, other unions around India partook in a general strike, leading to 250 million people protesting the law.
However, the most recent protests over the last week saw tens of thousands of farmers bringing their tractors to the capital, New Delhi, despite warnings from authorities not to do so. Police claim that the tractors are destructive to the city’s roads and that was reason enough to prohibit them, but activists think it was a way to try and curb involvement.
The protests turned violent last Tuesday, which is known as Republic Day, when protesters stormed the historic Red Fort before being beaten back by police with tear gas and batons. Similar scenes continue into the weekend. In an effort to slow down the protests, although the move has been criticized as an attempt to hide what is going on, Indian authorities decided to try and reduce the influence of the protests by locally turning off the internet until at least Tuesday.
It included not only New Delhi but the border regions of the nearby states as well.
Protests Draw International Support
The move prompted outrage not only in India, where the protests already had hundreds of millions of supporters but also among people across the world. Notably, many Western stars, including pop singer Rihanna, started to actively talk about the situation
“Why aren’t we talking about this?!” Rihanna tweeted out on Tuesday night with a link to an article about the internet blackout. That tweet was well received by many, with the likes of YouTuber turned late-night host Lilly Singh tweeting out, “Yes! Thank you so much Rihanna. This is a humanity issue! #IStandWithFarmers and this narrative is TIRED.”
Some figures were more involved in attacking how the Indian government was handling the situation. Internet star Mia Khalifa wrote, “What in the human rights violations is going on?! They cut the internet around New Delhi?! #FarmersProtest”
She also confronted the government’s narrative that many of the protesters were paid, writing, “Paid actors,” huh? Quite the casting director, I hope they’re not overlooked during awards season. I stand with the farmers. #FarmersProtest”
Others, like young climate change activist Greta Thunberg, simply wrote, “we stand in solidarity with the #FarmersProtest in India.” She also linked to resources for anyone who wants to be more involved.
Her message about solidarity has actually been echoed by not only activists but farmers around the world for months. Many of them feel their industries are completely necessary for society but are often unprofitable without government subsidies, such as those in India.
The Indian government, for its part, still doesn’t want to back down from the laws and accused the celebrities of spreading “sensationalism.”
Supporters of the government claim that celebrities using #FarmersProtest are being paid to post and have even suggested that the trending hashtag itself is being paid for.
See What Others Are Saying: (CNN) (NYT) (The Guardian)
95-Year-Old Woman Dies After Police Tases Her in Nursing Home
The officer involved was suspended with pay and charged with assault.
A 95-year-old Australian woman whom police tasered in a nursing home last week has reportedly died from her injuries.
Clare Nowland, who had dementia and required a walking frame to stand up and move, was living at the Yallambee Lodge in Cooma in southeastern Australia.
At about 4:15 a.m. on May 17, police and paramedics responded to a report of a woman standing outside her room with a steak knife.
They encountered Nowland, then reportedly tried to negotiate with her for several minutes, but she didn’t drop the knife.
The five-foot-two, 95-pound woman walked toward the two officers “at a slow pace,” police said at a news conference, so one of them tasered her.
She fell to the floor and reportedly suffered a fractured skull and a severe brain bleed, causing her to be hospitalized in critical condition.
Nowland passed away in a hospital surrounded by her family, the New South Wales police confirmed in a statement today.
After a week-long investigation, the police force also said that the senior constable involved would appear in court next week to face charges of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and common assault.
NSW police procedure states that tasers should not be used against elderly or disabled people absent exceptional circumstances.
Following the incident, community members, activists, and disability rights advocates expressed bewilderment and anger at what they called an unnecessary use of force, and some are now questioning why law enforcement took so long to prosecute the officer involved.
See what others are saying: (Reuters) (The New York Times) (CNN)
U.K. Police Face Backlash After Arresting Anti-Monarchy Protesters
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said that some of the arrests “raise questions” and “investigations are ongoing.”
The Public Order Act
A controversial protest crackdown law in the U.K. is facing criticism after dozens of anti-monarchy protesters were arrested during the coronation ceremony in London over the weekend.
The law, dubbed the “Public Order Act” was passed roughly a week ahead of the coronation for King Charles III. It gives police more power to restrict protesters and limits the tactics protesters can use in public spaces. It was condemned by human rights groups upon its passing, and is facing a new round of heat after 52 people were arrested over coronation protests on Saturday.
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said protesters were arrested for public order offenses, breach of the peace and conspiracy to cause a public nuisance. The group said it gave advance warning that its “tolerance for any disruption, whether through protest or otherwise, will be low and that we would deal robustly with anyone intent on undermining the celebration.”
It is currently unclear how many of those arrested were detained specifically for violating the Public Order Act, however, some of those arrested believe the new law was used against them.
“Make no mistake. There is no longer a right to peaceful protest in the UK,” Graham Smith, the CEO of anti-monarchy group Republic tweeted after getting arrested. “I have been told many times the monarch is there to defend our freedoms. Now our freedoms are under attack in his name.”
An Attempt to “Diminish” Protests
During a BBC Radio interview, Smith also said he believes the dozens of arrests were premeditated.
“There was nothing that we did do that could possibly justify even being detained and arrested and held,” Smith claimed.
“The whole thing was a deliberate attempt to disrupt and diminish our protest.”
Yasmine Ahmed, the U.K. Director of Human Rights Watch, also tweeted that the arrests were “disgraceful.”
“These are scenes you’d expect to see in Russia not the UK,” she wrote.
When asked about the controversy, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told reporters officers should do “what they think is best” in an apparent show of support for the Metropolitan Police.
For his part, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he is looking into the matter.
“Some of the arrests made by police as part of the Coronation event raise questions and whilst investigations are ongoing, I’ve sought urgent clarity from Met leaders on the action taken,” Khan tweeted.
See what others are saying: (The Guardian) (CNN) (The Washington Post)
Foreign Nationals Make Mad Dash out of Sudan as Conflict Rages
The conflict’s death toll has surpassed 420, with nearly 4,000 people wounded.
As the 10-day-long power struggle between rival generals tore Sudan apart, foreign governments with citizens in the country scrambled to evacuate them over the weekend.
On Sunday, U.S. special forces landed in the capital Khartoum and carried out nearly 100 American diplomats along with their families and some foreign nationals on helicopters.
An estimated 16,000 Americans, however, remain in the country and U.S. officials said in a statement that a broader evacuation mission would be too dangerous.
Christopher Maier, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity warfare, said in a statement that the Pentagon may assist U.S. citizens find safe routes out of Sudan.
“[The Defense Department] is at present considering actions that may include use of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to be able to observe routes and detect threats,” he said.
Germany and France also reportedly pulled around 700 people out of the country.
More countries followed with similar efforts, including the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Canada, China, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Indonesia.
Yesterday, a convoy carrying some 700 United Nations, NGO, and embassy staff drove to Port Sudan, a popular extraction point now that the airport in Khartoum has closed due to fighting.
Reports of gunmen prowling the capital streets and robbing people trying to escape, as well as looters breaking into abandoned homes and shops, have persuaded most residents to stay indoors.
Heavy gunfire, airstrikes, and artillery shelling have terrorized the city despite several proposed ceasefires.
Over the weekend, the reported death toll topped 420, with nearly 4,000 people injured, though both numbers are likely to be undercounted.