The government has compared the violence on Republic Day to the violence and chaos seen during the siege of the US Capitol on January 6.(AP)
The government has compared the violence on Republic Day to the violence and chaos seen during the siege of the US Capitol on January 6.(AP)

UN human rights agency calls for 'maximum restraint' by farmers and authorities

  • Earlier, the US called for dialogue to address the farmers’ protest and backed peaceful demonstrations and freedom of expression. Washington also offered support for reforms that improve and open up India’s markets to attract private investments.
By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 06, 2021 07:37 AM IST

The UN human rights agency on Friday called on both protesting farmers and authorities in India to exercise “maximum restraint” and to find “equitable solutions” that show respect for human rights.

The UN office of the high commissioner for human rights joined lawmakers, organisations and governments from around the world that have weighed in on the farmers’ protest that began last November against the three farm laws. A spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had earlier said it was important to respect peaceful protests, freedom of assembly and non-violence.

“#India: We call on the authorities and protesters to exercise maximum restraint in ongoing #FarmersProtests,” the UN human rights agency led by high commissioner Michelle Bachelet said on its official Twitter handle on Friday night.

“The rights to peaceful assembly & expression should be protected both offline & online. It's crucial to find equitable solutions with due respect to #HumanRights for all,” it added.

There was no immediate response from Indian officials to the UN human rights agency’s comments.

On Thursday, the US had called for a dialogue to address the farmers’ protest and backed peaceful demonstrations and freedom of expression. It also offered support for reforms that improve and open up India’s markets to attract private investments.

These were the first public comments by the Biden administration on the farmers’ protest, and the external affairs ministry responded by saying the protest must be seen in the context of India’s democratic ethos. The ministry also sought to make a comparison between violence at a farmers’ rally on January 26 and the chaos during the siege of the US Capitol on January 6.

The ministry has also pushed back against support for the farmers’ protest by foreign celebrities, describing the agitation as an internal matter. It has also dismissed criticism by celebrities of the government’s handling of the protest as “neither accurate nor responsible”.

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The farmers’ protest against three laws – Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act 2020, and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 – began on November 26 last year.

The government has defended the laws as necessary for long overdue reforms in the agricultural sector. After several rounds of unsuccessful negotiations with the government, the unions backing the protest decided to intensify their agitation and organised a tractor rally in the capital on Republic Day that descended into violence and chaos.

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