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Over 200 Signatories From Abroad Demand Repeal of Farm Laws as COVID Ravages India

The signatories from Canada, the US and elsewhere have also demanded the release of all political prisoners, some of whom have contracted the COVID-19 virus, and free vaccination for all.

New Delhi: More than 200 academics, trade union leaders and activists from Canada, the US and elsewhere have signed a statement supporting the farmers ongoing struggle in India and criticising the Narendra Modi government for prioritising its electoral agenda while disregarding assessments made by experts on the pandemic.

The signatories have demanded an immediate repeal of the farm laws passed in September 2020 so the farmers can protect themselves from COVID-19 and return to their homes. They have also demanded the release of all political prisoners, some of whom have contracted the COVID-19 infection, and free vaccination for all.

They have also urged the government to ensure that the poor and the marginalised do not disproportionately bear the burden of the ferocious second wave.

The statement which is more vocal on the farmers’ issue pointed how the Modi government continues to turn a deaf ear to their demands even as the protests enter sixth month on May 26.

Also read: Samyukt Kisan Morcha to Observe May 26 as ‘Black Day’ Marking Six Months of Farmers’ Protest

“Farmers rightly fear that these laws will empower corporations to seize their land, jeopardise their livelihood and deepen the agrarian crisis facing the country. Since November 2020, hundreds of thousands of farmers have camped at the borders of the capital New Delhi, in the bitter winter cold and now, the searing heat of summer, despite police tear gas, water cannons and barricades. Several hundred of them, young and old, men and women, have perished due to weather, disease, police violence and traffic accidents,” it said.

It added, “With the current wave of COVID it is feared the government will opportunistically invoke public health [Act] and attempt to demolish the camps, just as it did last year, at the onset of the first wave of this virus, with the massive mobilisation against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) designed to strip many Indians of citizenship.”

“The farmers’ protest has garnered amazing support from all sections of Indian society and outside the country as well. In Canada, city councils such as Vancouver, Victoria, Burnaby, Port Coquitlam, Surrey, Brampton and others, along with many Canadian labour organisations, including Canadian Labour Congress, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Federations of Labour, and UNIFOR, have passed resolutions or issued statements in support of the demands of the farmers.”

Also read: Former Civil Servants Slam Modi Govt for Mishandling Second Wave of COVID-19 Pandemic

Full text of the statement with list of signatories is below.

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India is in the grip of a Covid catastrophe caused by criminal inaction on the part of the national Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of Prime Minister Modi.  It chose to prioritize its electoral and ideological agenda and disregard assessments and predictions based on Covid mapping scenarios by experts. This is consistent with the BJP’s governance model since 2014 weakening and decimating every countervailing centre of power be it media, judiciary, opposition political parties, trade unions or human rights groups. These divisive governance practices negatively impact the working poor, the marginalized and oppressed sections of society, while providing huge dividends for their crony capitalists friends.

The current situation was not inevitable, proven by the state of Kerala where proactive measures resulted in them having a surplus of medical oxygen, or that the city of Mumbai chose not to dismantle large-scale temporary medical facilities created during the first wave because it foresaw a second coming.

In this context, we note the on-going struggle of millions of farmers demanding that PM Modi’s government repeal the three farm laws passed in September 2020, without consultation or debate in the midst of the first wave of the Covid pandemic.

This farmers’ movement, the largest and longest non-violent peaceful protest in world history, is now entering an unprecedented sixth month. Farmers rightly fear that these laws will empower corporations to seize their land, jeopardize their livelihood and deepen the agrarian crisis facing the country. Since November 2020, hundreds of thousands of farmers have camped at the borders of the capital New Delhi, in the bitter winter cold and now, the searing heat of summer, despite police tear gas, water cannons and barricades. Several hundred of them, young and old, men and women, have perished due to weather, disease, police violence and traffic accidents.  Many have been injured by vigilantes of the ruling party. Yet the struggle endures and grows. But the Modi government continues to turn a deaf ear to their demands. With the current wave of Covid it is feared the government will opportunistically invoke public health and attempt to demolish the camps, just as it did last year, at the onset of the first wave of this virus, with the massive mobilization against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) designed to strip many Indians of citizenship.  While the farmers know the health risks they face by staying encamped at this time, they remain resolute because it’s a devil’s bargain between threat of covid infection or farm laws that spell death for them.

The farmers’ protest has garnered amazing support from all sections of Indian society and outside the country as well. In Canada, city councils such as Vancouver, Victoria, Burnaby, Port Coquitlam, Surrey, Brampton and others, along with many Canadian labor organizations, including Canadian Labour Congress, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Federations of Labour, and UNIFOR, have passed resolutions or issued statements in support of the demands of the farmers. In the midst of the second wave of the covid pandemic ravaging India, we the undersigned, call on the Indian government to pay heed to the demands of the farmers and to ensure that the poor and the marginalized do not disproportionately bear the burden of the ferocious second wave.  It is important to remember that farmers feed the nation and working people build it.

IMMEDIATELY REPEAL the farm laws passed in September 2020 so the farmers can protect themselves from COVID and return to their homes, secure in the knowledge that the futures for themselves and their families are not jeopardized.

RELEASE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS being held under draconian laws and now also facing COVID infection.

FREE COVID-19 VACCINATIONS for all in India aged 18 and above.

  1. Feroz Mehdi, Alternatives International, Montreal, Canada
  2. Catherine Pappas, Alternatives, Montréal, Canada
  3. Mohammad Imran, Retired, NJ, USA
  4. Patrick Farbiaz, PEPS-Pour une Ecologie Populaire et Sociale, Paris
  5. Dolores Chew, Marianopolis College, Montreal, Canada
  6. Sophie Toupin, University of Amsterdam, Montreal/Amsterdam
  7. Ishita Tiwary, Concordia university, Montréal, Canada
  8. Richa Nagar, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
  9. Dipti Gupta, Dawson College, Montréal,Canada
  10. Cory Legassic, Dawson College, Montréal, Canada
  11. Rahul Varma, Teesri Duniya Theatre, Montreal , Canada
  12. Prashant Keshavmurthy, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
  13. Afshan Nasseri, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
  14. Sid Shniad, founding member, Independent Jewish Voices Canada
  15. Jooneed J KHAN, Journalist and Writer, Montreal, Canada
  16. Jaswant Guzder, child psychiatrist, Montreal, Canada
  17. Chiara Letizia, Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada
  18. Bindu T Desai, Albany, CA, USA
  19. Robert Apter, Retired UAW Local Rep, New York, NY, USA
  20. Lakshmi Sharma, Montreal, QC, Canada
  21. Jody Freeman, Montréal, Québec, Canada
  22. Bill Skidmore, Carleton University (Retired), Ottawa, Canada
  23. Anita Lal, Poetic Justice Foundation, Canada
  24. Carmen Jensen, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
  25. Pasha M. Khan, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
  26. Adrienne Piggott, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
  27. Sadeqa  Siddiqui, IMA Quebec , Montreal Canada.
  28. Robert Hornsey, President,Bergthorson Academy of Musical Arts, Maple Ridge, Canada
  29. Malcolm Guy, International League of Peoples’ Struggle, Montréal, Québec, Canada
  30. Niti Sharma, Richmond, B.C., Canada
  31. M. V. Ramana, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  32. Lavanya Narasiah, MD MSc, McGill and Sherbrooke University, Quebec, Canada
  33. Steve Orlov, playwright, Montreal, Qc
  34. Omer Morad, Montreal, QC    .
  35. Sushil Handa, Saint-Lambert, Quebec
  36. Gilles Sabourin, Saint-Lambert, Québec
  37. Daniel Guerrier, ancien délégué national Service civil international, France
  38. Christiane Baril, Longueuil, Québec, Canada
  39. Amrit Krishnan, Montreal, Québec, Canada
  40. Vijay Kolinjivadi, University of Antwerp, Montréal/Antwerp
  41. Caroline Kunzle, Montreal, Québec.
  42. Debdeep Chatterjee, Concordia University, Montreal
  43. Julie Vig, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
  44. Ayesha Vemuri, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
  45. Darin Barney, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
  46. Freda Guttman, Independent Jewish Voices, Montreal, Canada
  47. John Price, University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada
  48. Gracy Fernandes -Haiti
  49. Prashant Olalekar – India
  50. Vinod Mubayi, Insaf Bulletin, New York, USA
  51. Penni Mitchell, Herizons Magazine, Winnipeg, Canada
  52. Anne Caines, RECAA, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  53. Judy Wong, Canada
  54. Salman Kureishy, Mississauga, Canada
  55. Burç Köstem, Montreal, Quebec
  56. Samir Gandesha, Director, Institute for the Humanities, Simon Fraser University, Canada
  57. Denise Nadeau, Concordia University, Montreal
  58. Carrie Rentschler, McGill University, Montreal. Canada
  59. Ian Angus, Professor Emeritus, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada
  60. Jessica Fontaine, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
  61. Stephen Aberle, Independent Jewish Voices member, Vancouver, Canada
  62. Andrew Stuhl, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
  63. Rana Khan, Working for Change, Toronto, Canada
  64. Mark Stiles, Stiles Associates Inc., Ottawa, Canada
  65. Sana Ahmad, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
  66. David Barsamian, Alternative Radio, Boulder, CO USA
  67. Koushik Ghosh, Central Washington University, WA. U.S.A.
  68. Radhika Desai, President, Democracy, Equality and Secularism in South Asia (DESA), Winnipeg, Canada
  69. R. Desai, Director, Geopolitical Economy Research Group (GERG), Canada
  70.  Nicole Ranganath, UC Davis, US
  71. Jyotsna Vaid, College Station, TX, USA
  72. Jeremy Isao Speier, Artist, Vancouver, Canada
  73. Jerry Dias, Unifor President, Canada
  74. V.K. Tripathi, New Delhi, India
  75. Carolyn D’Cruz, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia
  76. Svend Robinson, Former Member of Canadian Parliament, JS Woodsworth Resident Scholar 2020-21, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada
  77. Rami Katz, Vancouver, Canada
  78. Glenn D’Cruz, Deakin University, Melbourne
  79. Hanako Hoshimi-Caines, Centre de Creation O Vertigo, Montreal, Canada
  80. Aparna Sundar, Toronto, Canada
  81. Chantale Ismé, Montréal, Canada
  82. Roopjit Sahota, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada
  83. Tanveer Sahota, Simon Fraser University, Burnany, Canada
  84. Navkiran Poonia, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada
  85. Jaspreet Singh, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  86. Dilsher Athwal, Simon Fraser University, Surrey, Canada
  87. Kishore Gajbhiye, Mumbai, India.
  88. Gurman Sahota, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada
  89. Jean-Claude Icart, sociologue, chercheur autonome, Montréal, Canada
  90. Harjaap Singh, Simon Fraser University, Canada
  91. Anjali Choksi, Dawson College Montreal, Canada
  92. Saleha Athar, Toronto, Canada
  1. Patricia Gruben, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada
  2. Sadaf Rathod, UMass, Amherst
  3. Madhumita Dutta, Columbus, Ohio, USA
  4. Geneviève Rail, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada
  5. Chinnaiah Jangam, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada
  6. Anthony Dias, SJES SAsia, Delhi
  1. Prabhjot Parmar, SANSAD (South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy), Vancouver, Canada
  1. Natalie Kouri-Towe, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada
  2. Norma Rantisi, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada
  3. Sharanjit Kaur, University of British Columbia, Canada.
  4. Kris Foulds, The Reach Gallery Museum Abbotsford, BC Canada
  5. Olivia Daniel, University of the Fraser Valley, Abbotsford, BC Canada
  6. Mo Dhaliwal, Poetic Justice Foundation, Canada
  7. Renel Exentus, doctorant en études urbaines, Montréal, Canada
  8. Alain Saint-Victor, historien, Montréal, Canada
  1. Hassan Yussuff, President, Canadian Labour Congress, Ottawa, Canada
  2. Stephen von Sychowski, President, Vancouver and District Labour Council, Vancouver
  3. Ian Rocksborough-Smith, University of the Fraser Valley, Canada
  4. Gian Sihota, VP Richmond South Centre Constituency Exec. BC, Canada
  5. Stefan Kipfer, York University, Canada
  6. Ilan Kapoor, York University, Toronto, Canada
  7. Sima Aprahamian, Simone de Beauvoir Institute, Concordia University, Canada
  8. Kajri Jain, University of Toronto, Canada
  9. Rachel Berger, Concordia University, Canada
  10. Bianca Mugyenyi, Director, Canadian Foreign Policy Institute
  11. Dimitri Lascaris, lawyer, journalist, activist
  12. Antonio Torres-Ruiz, Centre for Critical Development Studies, University of Toronto, and Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean.
  1. Guillaume Bernardi, Drama Studies Program, Glendon College, York University.
  2. Steven Bush, Senior Lecturer (rtd), University of Toronto, Canada
  3. Bhavani Raman, University of Toronto, Canada.
  4. Prabhjot Parmar, University of the Fraser Valley, Canada
  5. Sedef Arat-koc, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada
  6. Katharine Beeman, Alternatives, Montréal, Québec, Canada
  7. Evelyn Mondonedo, PINAYQuebec, Canada
  8. Radhika Desai, President, the Society of Socialist Studies, Canada
  9. Sejal Lal, South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD), Vancouver, Canada
  1. Radhika Mongia, York University, Toronto, Canada
  2. Mustafa Koc, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada
  3. Ravindra K. Jain, Retired, JNU, India
  4. Amanda R. Shankland. Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  5. Rachel Portinga. Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
  6. Navjotpal Kaur, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s NL Canada
  7. Marie Boti, Women of Diverse Origins, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  8. Maria Worton, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  9. E McLean, Winnipeg, MB, Canada
  10. Kora Liegh Glatt, Victoria, BC, Canada
  11. Ambrose Pereira, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
  12. May Chiu,Montreal, Québec, Canada
  13. Barbara Parker, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
  14. Bertrand Guibord, Conseil central du Montréal métropolitain – CSN, Montréal, Québec
  15. Eric Shragge, Immigrant Workers Centre, Montreal, Quebec
  16. Bryan Dale, University of Toronto Scarborough, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  17. Monika Korzun, Saint Paul University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  18. Ryan J. Phillips, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  19. Lionel Fernandes, Ontario, Canada
  20. Omar Latif, Committee of Progressive Pakistani-Canadians, Toronto, Canada
  21. Nilambri Ghai, Ottawa, Canada
  22. Dominique Daigneault, Conseil central du Montréal métropolitain – CSN, Montréal, Québec
  1. Christine Marrewa-Karwoski, Columbia University, NY, US
  2. Malcolm Blincow, Retired, York University, Toronto, Canada
  3. 153. Doreen Fumia, Associate Professor Emeritus, Sociology, Ryerson University, Canada
  4. Michelle Smith, Dawson College, Montreal, Quebec
  5. Aziz Choudry, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
  6. Stefan Christoff, Artist, community organizer and student
  7. John DMello, PEACE, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, US, 33410
  8. Nazila Bettache, MD CM, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Medicine, Université de Montréal, Canada
  1. Odile Hélier Paris France
  2. Waheed Mukaddam, Cambridge, MA,  US
  3. Jean Swanson, Councillor, City of Vancouver, Canada
  4. Mei-ling Wiedmeyer, MD, CCFP, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Family Practice, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  1. Shireen Hamza, History of Science, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, US
  2. Antonio de Jesus, Centre for Philippine Concerns, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  3. Vijay Puli, South Asian Dalit-Adivasi Network (SADAN)
  4. Robyn Andrews, Massey University, NZ
  1. Kamala Visweswaran, Rice University, Houston, TX
  2. Elena Razlogova, History, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada
  3. Martha Stiegman, Environmental & Urban Change, York University, Toronto, Canada
  4. Lauren Kepkiewicz, Department of Geography, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada
  5. Lorelei Hanson, Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies, Athabasca University, Athabasca, Canada
  1. Francis Cody, University of Toronto, Canada
  2. Rajee Paña Jejishergill, NSCAD University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  3. Jennifer Chew, Montreal, Canada
  4. Elaine Power, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
  5. Kelly Tracey, University of the Fraser Valley, Abbotsford, BC, Canada
  6. Between the Lines, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  7. Larry Brown, President, the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), Canada
  1. Andrea Yovorsky, EcoTrust Canada, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Toronto, Canada
  1. Syeda N Bukhari, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
  2. Ravneet Sidhu, Simon Fraser University, BC, Canada
  3. Iris Yellum, South Asian Studies, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, US
  4. Clarisse Wells, South Asian Studies, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, US
  5. Catie Peters, American Studies, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, US
  6. Anelyse Weiler, Sociology, University of Victoria, BC, Canada
  7. Richard Swift, New Internationalist Magazine
  8. Harnek Dhaliwal, Punjabi Literary and Cultural Association, Winnipeg, Canada
  9. Mukhtiar Singh (Retired), University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada
  10. Donna Denina, International Women’s Alliance, Seattle, WA US
  11. Amélie Nguyen, Centre international de solidarité ouvrière (CISO)
  12. Caroline Quesnel, Fédération nationale des enseignantes et des enseignants du Québec (FNEEQ-CSN)
  1. Paritosh Kumar, Global Development Studies, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada
  2. Marie Stuart, Montréal, Québec
  3. Marguerite Kephart, Montréal, Canada
  4. Sheetal Lodhia, Toronto, ON, Canada
  5. 198 Shree Mulay, St. John’s NL, Canada
  1. Maurice Dufour, Montreal, Qc
  2. Bhajan Gill, Secretary, Progressive Cultural  Association, Calgary, Canada
  3. Harcharan Singh Parihar, Editor, Sikh Virsa, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  4. Vrinda Narain, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
  5. Kaleem Siddiqi, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
  6. Harbans Singh, Editor, Sarokaran Di Awaaz, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  7. Gurcharan Brar, Punjabi Cultural Association of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
  8. Gurvinder Gill, Secular People’s Association, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  9. Dr. Shaheen Ansari, Arkitect India, New Delhi
  10. Mritiunjoy Mohanty, CERIAS, UQAM, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  11. Jodi Koberinski, SSHRC Doctoral Fellow, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
  12. Nancy Sears Barker, teacher, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  13. 211.Jonathan S. Barker, professor, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  14. Laird Cronk, President, BC Federation of Labour, Vancouver, Canada
  15. Sussanne Skidmore, Secretary Treasurer, BC Federation of Labour, Vancouver, Canada