New Delhi: International attention on the farmers’ protest in India has been growing over the past two days following a tweet by pop singer Rihanna and the reactions it triggered from other celebrities.
The protests have dominated much of the news in India for the past two months, since farmers set up camp at Delhi’s borders in December, demanding that the Narendra Modi government repeal three contentious laws that were passed in September last year.
Eleven rounds of talks with the government have been held, but the stalemate has continued with the farmers unwilling to concede on their demand and the government unwilling to budge on not repealing the laws.
The issue turned ugly on 26 January — Republic Day — when farmers pushed through police barricades to carry out a tractor rally in the national capital. In the ensuing mayhem, one farmer died of injuries sustained in an accident while dozens of police personnel and farmers were injured. As the chaos unfolded, internet was suspended at the border areas where protest sites have cropped up and in pockets across Delhi.
The news of the internet suspension, which was lifted 2 February, caught the attention of Rihanna. Meanwhile, environmental activist Greta Thunberg also tweeted in support of the protests Wednesday. These tweets have since snowballed into many Hollywood celebrities, international athletes and other prominent personalities expressing their solidarity with the farmer protests.
ThePrint looks at the international celebrities that have spoken up for farmers.
Singer and cosmetics mogul Rihanna tweeted about the protest Tuesday with a link to a CNN article, about the internet suspension. In her post, she asked: “Why aren’t we talking about this?”
— Rihanna (@rihanna) February 2, 2021
Climate activist Greta Thunberg Wednesday also expressed solidarity with the farmers and tweeted, “We stand in solidarity with the farmers’ protest in India.” Thunberg also listed ways of helping out the protesting farmers and used the hashtag #StandwithFarmers
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) February 2, 2021
Lawyer and US Vice-President Kamala Harris’ niece, Meena Harris, drew comparisons between India and the US and said the “world’s most populous democracy is under assault” and that everyone should be outraged.
In a thread, she spoke about the violence at the Capitol and said “fascism anywhere is a threat to democracy everywhere.” Harris added: “Militant nationalism is just as potent a force in US politics as it is in India or anyplace else.”
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. https://t.co/yIvCWYQDD1 pic.twitter.com/DxWWhkemxW
— Meena Harris (@meenaharris) February 2, 2021
National Football League athlete Juju Smith-Schuster donated $10,000 “to provide medical assistance to the farmers in need in India to help save lives during these times”.
Happy to share that I’ve donated $10,000 to provide medical assistance to the farmers in need in India to help save lives during these times. I hope we can prevent any additional life from being lost. 🙏🏾 #FarmersProtest https://t.co/0WoEw0l3ij
— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) February 3, 2021
US basketball players also came out in support of the farmers, including point forward for the Los Angeles Lakers, Kyle Alexander Kuzma. Meanwhile, former NBA player Baron Davis, said, “Are we going to address what’s happening in India ? Let my good people free !! Unfair to those who struggle, the farmers provide a way of living and they need to have a right to a way of life. Join me and let’s bring awareness.”
— kuz (@kylekuzma) February 3, 2021
Are we going to address what’s happening in India ? Let my good people free !! Unfair to those who struggle, the farmers provide a way of living and they need to have a right to a way of life. Join me and let’s bring awareness. #FarmersProtest ✊🏾✊🏾
We all in this together !
— Baron Davis (@BaronDavis) February 3, 2021
Lebanese model Mia Khalifa tweeted in support of the farmers’ protests, and even made a quip about people being paid to tweet.
— Mia K. (@miakhalifa) February 3, 2021
— Mia K. (@miakhalifa) February 3, 2021
YouTuber and late night TV host Lilly Singh and model Amanda Cerny also extended their support to the protesting farmers.
— Lilly // #LateWithLilly (@Lilly) February 2, 2021
— Amanda Cerny (@AmandaCerny) February 3, 2021
After Rihanna’s tweet, comedian Hasan Minhaj also shared an article to generate awareness about the farmers’ protests.
RiRi has entered the chat.
FYI, PBS @NewsHour did a fantastic, simple primer to help folks understand the protests and the new laws devastating Indian farmers. Please check it out: https://t.co/3UNrbgw5zE https://t.co/hUr3N4fjdk
— Hasan Minhaj (@hasanminhaj) February 3, 2021
Members of the US Congress have also tweeted on the farmers issue. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar said, “India must protect their basic democratic rights, allow for the free flow of information, reinstate internet access, and release all the journalists detained for covering the protests.”
Representative Jim Costa, who is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee — a US House of Representatives committee on foreign affairs — said that he was closely monitoring the situation and that “the right to peaceful protest must always be respected”.
The unfolding events in India are troubling. As a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I am closely monitoring the situation. The right to peaceful protest must always be respected. #FarmersProtest
— Rep. Jim Costa (@RepJimCosta) February 2, 2021
Solidarity with all the farmers across India protesting for their livelihood.
India must protect their basic democratic rights, allow for the free flow of information, reinstate internet access, and release all the journalists detained for covering the protests. https://t.co/uOvwNkIu5n
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) February 3, 2021
MEA’s response & Indian celebrities
After the outpouring of international support for Indian farmers and their agitation, the Ministry of External Affairs warned against “vested interest groups trying to mobilise international support against India”.
The ministry’s statement, released Wednesday, also noted that facts should be ascertained before commenting on the matter — a pointed reference to the celebrities tweeting on the matter.
— Anurag Srivastava (@MEAIndia) February 3, 2021
Soon after, many Indian celebrities and sports personalities used the same hashtag and noted that the protests were India’s internal matter.
These included singer Lata Mangeshkar, actors Akshay Kumar, Suniel Shetty and Ajay Devgn, film-maker Karan Johar and producer Ekta Kapoor. Sportspersons such as Virat Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Saina Nehwal and several others also tweeted with the hashtag #IndiaTogether.
Ministers and politicians such as Home Minister Amit Shah, Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar were also critical of the international “propaganda”.
उन लोगों की पहचान करने की आवश्यकता है जो भारत के लोगों को विभाजित करने के लिए विदेशी तत्वों की मदद लेते हैं।
याद रखें, वह समय खत्म हो गया है जब बाहरी ताकतें भारत के आंतरिक मामलों में हस्तक्षेप करते थे।#IndiaAgainstPropaganda #IndiaTogether https://t.co/jVqAKK8Y6K
— Kiren Rijiju (@KirenRijiju) February 3, 2021
No propaganda can deter India’s unity!
No propaganda can stop India to attain new heights!
Propaganda can not decide India’s fate only ‘Progress’ can.
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) February 3, 2021
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) February 3, 2021
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