Briefing Note Published by Sikh Federation (UK) Addresses ‘Farmers Protest’ Concerns Before Parliamentary Debate

A briefing note which will inform MPs during the ‘Farmers Protest’ debate’ in UK Parliament on 8 March has been published by Sikh Federation (UK).

The purpose of the briefing note is to inform MPs of some of the issues they should raise if they are taking part in what has been termed the Farmers Protest debate that is taking place on Monday 8 March 2021 in Westminster Hall at 4.30pm.

It adds that the UK Government “must do and be seen doing much more directly to influence the Indian authorities” and “take action on the international stage with regards to the human rights violations against farmers, journalists, activists and others supporting them.”

The background of the debate is supported by: Two Sikh Parliamentary lobbies which were organised by the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Sikhs on the Farmers Protest on 28 October 2020 and a follow up on human rights violations on 9 February 2021.

A Parliamentary e-petition titled: “Urge the Indian Government to ensure safety of protesters and press freedom” has attracted over 115,000 signatures.

All 650 MPs have had constituents sign the petition with around 200 MPs having hundreds if not thousands of constituents sign the petition. Over 20 MPs have had a thousand or more constituents sign the petition. Around 25 further MPs have had between 500-1,000 constituents sign the petition and approximately another 150 MPs have had hundreds of constituents sign the petition.

The briefing note adds that the debate is not about the three controversial Indian farm laws themselves as this is a matter for the Indian legislature. However, domestic laws in India must be drawn up with respect to international obligations and treaties that protect farmer rights where India are signatories.

Commenting on the announcement of the debate, Tony Shergill, CEO of BritAsia TV, said:

“It was the farm lands and the need for their development that brought our forefathers to this country. This in return enabled Punjab to thrive as the money sent back to their village homes enabled the cultivation and growth of more farm land so families and villagers could survive for generations to come.

“So if that freedom to protect a way of life is threatened, it’s in our DNA to fight for that, as it everyone’s birth right to stand up for their mother soil especially one that feeds the rest of India. I welcome the debate on Monday 8th March in parliament.”

What will be raised by MPs during the debate?

  1. ‘We are witnessing the world’s single largest ever protest’
  2. ‘Protesters initially stopped from taking their protest to Delhi’
  3. ‘Freedom of expression, right to assemble and peacefully protest’
  4. ‘Indiscriminate detention, disappearances and torture’
  5. ‘Protesters face ridiculous charges of terrorism, sedition and anti-national conduct’
  6. ‘State sponsored goons and badgeless police officers instigate attacks on protester camps’
  7. Food, electricity and fresh water supplies cut at protest sites
  8. Internet restrictions and social media blackout
  9. Indian government crackdown on journalists reporting on the farmers protest
  10. Celebrities, climate change activists and female activists and politicians targeted

The briefing note concludes it has been 12 weeks since the Foreign Secretary met his counterpart in India. And asks what action has the UK Government taken in the last 12 weeks directly with India and on the international stage as the Chair of the UN Security Council in February 2021 and at UN Human Rights Council in the 46th Regular Session in Geneva to raise the highlighted concerns.

The debate is scheduled to take place Monday 8 March 2021 in Westminster Hall at 4.30pm.


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