Home / India / Farmers' protest grabs international spotlight

Rihanna tweet sets off avalanche

Farmers' protest grabs international spotlight

Centre not happy with reaction, asks celebrities to understand the issue before rushing to comment
Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping at several Delhi border points since November last year, demanding the government to repeal the three farm laws

Our Bureau, Agencies   |   New Delhi   |   Published 03.02.21, 04:13 PM

Several international personalities, including singers Jay Sean, Dr Zeus and former adult star Mia Khalifa, have joined pop star Rihanna in supporting Indian farmers who have been protesting for over two months against the three contentious agri laws.

Besides the celebrities, climate activist Greta Thunberg and US Vice President Kamala Harris' niece have also come out in farmers' support.

India has reacted strongly, indicating its discomfort with the celebrity reactions. In a statement, issued by the external affairs foreign ministry, India asked the international community to refrain from commenting without knowing the full picture.

On Tuesday night, Rihanna shared a CNN news article with her 100 million followers on Twitter, calling out the internet shutdown at the protest site.

"Why aren't we talking about this? #FarmersProtest," the 32-year-old singer wrote.

Soon after, Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg also came out in support of the protesters as she shared the same article and wrote, "We stand in solidarity with the #FarmersProtest in India."

Nine-year-old climate activist Licypriya Kangujam had asked Thunberg to support the protest, saying farmers were already battling the climate crisis.

"Hi @GretaThunberg! Please extend support to the voice of millions of Indian farmers. This is the world''s biggest historic protest for their rights," Kanjugam, who is also called "India''s Greta Thunberg", tweeted.

Meena Harris, an American lawyer who is the niece of Kamala Harris, had said: "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," she tweeted.

Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping at several Delhi border points since November last year, demanding the government to repeal the three farm laws and legal guarantee of minimum support price (MSP) for their crops.

Hollywood star John Cusack, who previously voiced support to anti-CAA protestors in February 2020, retweeted a post by Vanessa Nakate, a Ugandan climate activist, reading, "Let us talk about what is happening in India right now #FarmersProtest."

The Hollywood star had previously posted in support of the agitation on January 30 with the tweet, "Sikhs farmers are amazing."

Kamaljit Singh Jhooti, popularly known by his international stage name Jay Sean, took to Instagram and wrote that despite the farmers agitation being one of the largest protests "ever in history", there has not been enough mainstream coverage of the event.

"I live in the US and I've barely seen it on the news or mainstream media. I don't know what needs to be done to raise more awareness and have more eyes on this but I've seen videos that are far too graphic and heartbreaking to post.

"People that are old enough to be my grandparents being trampled over with no remorse or regard. Please go to my story where I will post a petition link and something actionable," the Indian-origin British artiste wrote.

Baljit Singh Padam aka rapper Dr Zeus retweeted Rihanna's tweet and wrote that "everyone with sense" across the world are wondering about the lack of spotlight on the protests.

"World media needs to wake up. #FarmersProtest," the Indian-origin British singer said.

Khalifa took to Twitter and criticised the treatment being meted out to the protesting farmers. "What in the human rights violations is going on?! They cut the internet around New Delhi?! #FarmersProtest," she wrote.

In a subsequent tweet, the 27-year-old Lebanese American took on those who called farmers "paid actors" as she reiterated her support to them.

"'Paid actors' huh? Quite the casting director, I hope they're not overlooked during awards season. I stand with the farmers. #FarmersProtest."

Indo-Canadian YouTube star and late-night talk show host Lilly Singh thanked Rihanna for bringing the protests to global spotlight.

"Thank you so much @rihanna. This is a humanity issue! #IStandWithFarmers and this narrative is tired," Singh wrote.

US-based Indian filmmaker Ritesh Batra, known for films like "The Lunchbox" and "Photograph", tweeted that the "whole world is watching the farmer agitation in India."

Popular Punjabi actor-singer Diljit Dosanjh, one of the first celebrities to voice his support for farmers, came up with a song dedicated to Rihanna, title Ri Ri.

American social media star Amanda Cerny also took to social media to support the farmers.

"The world is watching. You don't have to be Indian or Punjabi or South Asian to understand the issue. All you have to do is care about humanity. Always demand freedom of speech, freedom of press, basic human and civil rights-equity and dignity for workers," she wrote.

However, support from all the international celebrities did not go down well with the government with the Centre issuing a statement asking the celebrities to refrain from commenting on the issue without seeing the full picture.

India reacted sharply on Wednesday, saying a very small section of farmers in parts of the country had some reservations about the farm reforms and a proper understanding of the issue was needed before rushing to comment on the agitation.


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