New Delhi: Poetic Justice Foundation (PJF), the organisation which is on the radar of Indian investigation agencies for its alleged involvement in creating a toolkit that was tweeted and then deleted by environmental activist Greta Thunburg, Saturday denied paying money to popstar Rihanna for her tweet on the farmers’ protest.
The Canada-based organisation, however, said it “encouraged the entire world to share this issue”.
The organisation responded to ThePrint via email, over the allegation that its founder Mo Dhaliwal paid $2.5 million to Rihanna for her tweet. PJF also released a statement on its website.
The Print reached Dhaliwal through a Twitter message for comments over the allegation that PR firm Skyrocket paid money to Rihanna. In his response, he shared the statement sent by PJF to ThePrint via email.
“Poetic Justice Foundation did not coordinate Rihanna, Greta Thunberg or any number of specific celebrities to tweet about the #FarmersProtest. We didn’t pay anyone to tweet — and certainly didn’t pay anyone $2.5m to do so,” read the statement, signed by Dhaliwal and Anita Lal, director of the Canada-based World Sikh Organisation, and co-founder of PJF.
“However, we did generally encourage the entire world to share this issue. Through the international collective of organizers we encouraged the world to pay attention and amplify this message,” the statement said.
The statement further said: “Our voices joined a global chorus that, together, may have played a small part in elevating this message enough such that conscious people, appalled by India’s human rights violations during the farmers protest, decided to use their own platforms to raise awareness of the plight of the marginalized in India.”
“It is our hope that Indian media and government attention will invest their time and significant resources to the real issues of the moment: stopping the violences being committed against the farmers and their supporters who are agitating for their rights (sic),” it said.
“Surely, the largest democracy in the world is not so fragile as to feel threatened by dissent. Surely, a government constantly proclaiming its own greatness will survive critique from a tiny non-profit organization in Canada that has been in existence for 9 months,” it added.
‘Did not coordinate any protest activities’
The statement further said that the organisation did not coordinate any protest activities occurring within India.
“Up to India’s Republic Day, January 26th, 2021, and beyond — whether at Red Fort in Delhi or elsewhere in the country — we were not involved in directing or fomenting any protest activity of any sort within India,” the statement read
The organisation also said it has never advocated for hate and that they became a part of the farmers’ protest due to their connection and love for their people.
“We have not and will never advocate for hate. However, we have been subjected to hateful messages, our inboxes have been inundated with images of dead Sikhs and our lives have been threatened. We are the children of a culture of trauma. This trauma has been wielded against us as a weapon of hate by a coordinated army of self-proclaimed Indian nationalists.”
“We will never advocate for the stripping of rights from others. We will never advocate for the harm of others. Advocating for the rights of our own people does not equate to harming others,” the statement added.
“There are injustices in our home in Canada. We speak against those. There are injustices in other parts of the world. We will also speak against those.
We were drawn to the #FarmersProtest due to our connection and love for our people. This made us especially aware of the many human rights violations occurring in India,” read the statement.
AskIndiawhy for public to see
The statement also said that the organisation connected with people who are “like-minded, equally moved and emotionally connected to the plight of our people in India” and also that AskIndiaWhy, which police sources said is a front of the organisation in the UK, is publicly available for everyone to see.
On Twitter, PJF has been actively posting about the farmers’ protest with the hashtag “AskIndiaWhy”, which has also spawned a website by the same name. “India’s farmers and citizens need the global community to pay attention,” the website states. “International focus on these protests may be the only thing preventing state-sponsored violence and another string of massacres in the country,” it adds.
“As convenors of a global collective, we gathered up all of this thinking and made it publicly available on a website called AskIndiaWhy.com. The materials we produced were made freely available for all. In fact, these materials are still available online. We didn’t take them down, because we believe in the work,” the statement said.
“We saw members of our diaspora worldwide struggle to bring awareness, struggle to organize and galvanize support. Further, we saw many community members grappling with how to convey a clear message for complex issues.
We held meetings. We brainstormed ideas. We gathered feedback. As we worked, an idea emerged. We decided to bring a question to the democracy of India. We would “ask India why”,” the statement said.
It further said that the materials currently available on AskIndiaWhy.com have been included in many messages and documents produced by human rights activists throughout the world, whether that’s Greta Thunberg’s team or any number of others appalled at India’s record on human rights.
“This content has been open and accessible to anyone who is interested in accessing it.”