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

IAPI holds May Day vigil for slain Indian farmers Featured

Activists came together on the international workers’ day outside the Indian Visa and Passport Application Center in Surrey, to remember more than 300 farmers who have laid down their lives during the ongoing agitation.  

Indian farmers have been camping on the borders of New Delhi since November against controversial farm laws which have been passed by the ruling right wing Hindu nationalist BJP government.  

The farmers believe that these laws are going to harm their livelihood and increase corporate control over the agro industry.  

Organized by Indians Abroad for Pluralist India (IAPI), the vigil was held on Saturday, May 1.  

The event began with a moment of silence for not only the Indian farmers who have lost their lives during the struggle, but also thousands of healthcare workers who have died in the line of duty all over the world because of the pandemic.  

The speakers unanimously called for the repeal of Indian farm laws and raised slogans in solidarity with the Indian farmers. They also expressed their apprehension over how COVID 19 is being used by the Indian government to push the whole issue under the rug.  

Among those who spoke on the occasion were famous poet Sherry Duggal, social justice activists Imtiaz Popat, Annie Ohana and Dupinder Kaur Saran, besides IAPI spokesman Gurpreet Singh.   

Sherry recited one of her two poems dedicated to the farmers on the occasion.  

Annie Ohana, an anti-racism educator who was instrumental behind the statement made by BC Teachers Federation in support of Indian farmers, honoured Sherry, Imtiaz and Dupinder with Radical Desi medals of courage on behalf of IAPI.  

Radical Desi is an online magazine that covers alternative politics and is a media partner of IAPI. Annie is the past recipient of the Radical Desi medal.  

The three individuals were honoured for standing up for the farmers. Imtiaz had spoken in support of a motion that was passed by the Vancouver City Council in solidarity with Indian farmers, while Dupinder had mobilized people to write letters to the Council, asking it to adopt the motion and hold peaceful demonstrations all over Greater Vancouver.  

While Imtiaz is associated with Coalition Against Bigotry, Dupinder is part of Guru Nanak Free Kitchen and One Voice.  

IAPI wanted to send a strong message to the Indian government by honouring these three individuals from different faiths, and to let the world know that it is not a religious issue, as the Indian establishment is trying to make everyone believe. The BJP government has portrayed the farmers' movement as "separatist and anti-national", by polarizing the Hindu majority against the Sikhs, whereas people from all the religious communities are united and together in this issue.  

Likewise, the IAPI believes that the supporters in Canada of Khalistan, an imaginary separate Sikh state, were also hurting the cause of Indian peasantry, by trying to appropriate the agitation.   




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