MELBOURNE, Nov 10: As the Indian farmers’ agitation continues and many rounds of talks with the government fail to reach an agreement, the Indian Diaspora in Australia has been raising their voice in solidarity on the issue.
Rallies and demonstrations have taken place in many cities across Australia expressing solidarity with the Indian farmers. The earliest rally in Melbourne on a rainy day attracted a few but as days passed greater numbers could be seen in subsequent rallies.
Rallies or solidarity actions have taken place in many cities including Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, and Brisbane. There were protests outside the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) with slogans and banners during the 2nd T20 cricket match between Australia and India.
Leader of the Victorian Greens Samantha Ratnam expressed solidarity with Indian farmers in the Senate asking the Andrews government to reassess Victoria’s India strategy in the context of recent concerns about the Indian government’s treatment of farmers and religious minorities.
Labour MP Rob Mitchell gave a statement on the farmer’s agitation in the Federal Parliament on 1 December 2020. While emphasizing that “the right to peaceful process is fundamental in any democracy” he urged the Indian govt to”show restraint and compassion when dealing with protesters.”
MP Rob Mitchell said, “This issue is not unique to India. Here in Australia family farming businesses have been preyed upon by corporate farming enterprises, and many families have been forced off the land. Recent studies show about 28 people who depend on farming in India die by suicide every day because of the growing debt, poor harvests and drought. We believe the right to peaceful process is fundamental in any democracy, and I join with many in our communities who are very disturbed by the treatment of Punjabi farmers in India and those who fear for their safety while peacefully protesting. On behalf of the many worried family members in our electorate of McEwen, I urge the Indian government to show restraint and compassion when dealing with protesters. Right across the world, we know that the best way to find a solution to a situation is through dialogue. Dialogue is always better than violence, and I hope that these calls are heard.”
A Stop Adani media statement quotes Simon Gedda, Central Queensland farmer from Lotus Creek as saying, “As an Australian farmer in Queensland, I stand in solidarity with the millions of Indian farmers who are pushing back on Adani and the Government’s farm laws. It can be tough being a farmer, not only do we battle the elements and increasingly, climate change impacts, but we are now called on to protect farmer’s rights against billionaire coal barons. This is a fight many Australian farmers understand, and it’s a fight we can’t shy away from. Adani and pro-coal Governments are ruining farmers’ livelihoods from India to Australia.”
A solidarity rally in Sydney was broadcast live by radio station Kahte Sunte and seen around Australia on its Facebook page. The Humanism Project on its Instagram account posted a quote of Thomas Jefferson: “Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bonds.”
In a statement the ‘Stop Adani’ expressed solidarity with “peaceful mass protests led by Indian farmers.”
The biggest rally at the Federation Square, Melbourne had massive participation from numerous families. Punjabi families were joined by people from other communities and organisations as speaker after speaker urged the Indian Government to repeal the three contentious farm laws. Passing Australians also joined the gathering.
Never before the Indian diaspora including in Australia has so much been charged and involved in an issue coming from India. The Australian media is still in the mould of US-UK news in international affairs. The world’s biggest farmers protest gets scanty mention here. But the vocal Diaspora voices in support of India farmers speaks for itself. The Indian people living overseas are emotionally attached to their roots in India. Issues there affect them. The farmers stir is no exception.
By Neeraj Nanda