"if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen
the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu.

Vancouver City Council passes motion in support of Indian farmers Featured

Jean Swanson Jean Swanson

 

In a major jolt to the Indian government, the City of Vancouver has passed a motion to show support with the farmers agitating for their rights outside New Delhi since November, 2020.  

Moved by councillor Jean Swanson, the motion was passed by a majority vote on Wednesday, March 31. While four councillors voted in its support, four others abstained.  

The motion says that Council stands in solidarity with the Indian farmers, and directs the Mayor of Vancouver to write to the provincial and federal governments asking them to support Indian citizens’ rights to expression and liberty.  

Thousands of Indian farmers have been camping on the border of the national capital asking the right wing Hindu nationalist government to roll back controversial farm laws that threaten their livelihood. They believe that the laws, which have been passed without debate and due consultations, are aimed to ensurecorporate control over the agro industry. After the protesting farmers had to face police violence, angry demonstrations have been held across Canada by members of the Indian diaspora. A rally was held outside Vancouver City Hall on Monday, March 29. The organizers displayed more than 200 shoes on the steps leading to the building as a mark of respect to hundreds of farmers who have lost their lives during the struggle.  

Swanson’s original motion went into the details of these laws and urged the Indian government to revoke them.  

First presented on the night of March 10, the motion covered a lot of layers associated with the issue. However, in the absence of unanimity on part of the city councillors, the vote was delayed and the motion was watered down.  

Notably, the council was under pressure from the pro-India lobby groups. A majority of the speakers from the community opposed the motion and supported the position of the Indian government, which is trying to down play these concerns and continues to resist international criticism because of the mistreatment of farmers.  

Barring Imtiaz Popat, a well-known social justice activist, nobody came in support of the motion.  

Swanson had previously brought a motion against India’s discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act that discouraged Muslim refugees coming to the country from neighbouring nations. She had to eventually withdraw it after backlash from the supporters of the Indian government and its consulate in Vancouver.  

Interestingly, that motion was opposed by Khalsa Diwan Society (KDS), the oldest Sikh body of Vancouver, which welcomed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015. This time the KDS supported Swanson’s motion though.  

 

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