Update from Global Women’s Strike (GWS) Women of Colour GWS and Payday men’s network, (which include farmers and farmworkers in different countries). GWS & WOC have been working with grassroots Dalit and Adivasi women in our network in India since 1992. We have been spreading the word about this momentous strike of millions of farmers and farm workers defending food security and their land from multinationals.
26th May – Indian Farmer Unions call for protests across all India supported by Central Trade Unions
Despite government and media censorship, protests by farmworkers and farmers, women, children and men are strong and intensifying. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) the umbrella body of 40 farmers unions, has called for people across India to observe 26 May as ‘black day” marking six months of protests against India Prime Minister Modi’s repressive three Farm Laws. It is also seven years since Modi has been in power. They are calling for people to hang black flags outside their homes, vehicles, shops and wherever else. Central Trade Unions across India are again supporting.
Indian people and others internationally are supporting; for example, in Canada several city councils along with many Canadian labour organisations (Canadian Labour Congress, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Federations of Labour, and UNIFOR) have passed resolutions or issued statements in support of the demands of the Indian farmers (see recent letter signed by over 200 academics, trade unionists and activists from Canada, US and elsewhere,). Farmers in India are also publicising opposition to similar pro-corporate policies by US farmers.
On 24 May, 3000 police tried to block protesting farmworkers and farmers in Hisar on their way to blockade Hisar Commissioner’s office. Many such protests are happening continuously all over India in different states.
On 21 May SKM wrote to Modi demanding talks and repeating the movements main demands: Repeal the three Farm Laws; Pay farmers Minimum Support Price (MSP) at C2+50%; Protect farmers from the adverse effects of the proposed Electricity Bill.
More and more people are going to the three protest camps on the borders of Delhi – Ghazipur, Singhu, and Tikri. Farmer and farmworker families are rotating between farm and camps to keep both going strong; several states harvested record wheat crops this year. Despite the terrible Covid pandemic, attacks by police, heavy rains, rising temperatures, and the authorities’ threat to cut water and electricity, their brave struggle continues, jointly with other workers, to win the repeal of the Modi government’s Farm Laws and Labour Codes. There are few Covid cases at the camps, people are drinking traditional herbal medicines as well as natural supplements to increase immunity and health and putting other measures into place.
The camps continue to provide food and clean water, free health care, schooling and more to farmers and their families living there, as well as to destitute Delhi residents and other people living in the nearby area. Local communities are giving ongoing practical support.
But in most parts of India, lockdowns have left people without food and other basics, and often without even their usual small incomes. Migrant labourers have been left stranded or had to walk very long distances to reach home. The public food distribution system has collapsed in many states. Dalit and Adivasi women in rural Chhattisgarh in our network, including farm workers, say: “We are in solidarity with the Kisan Andolan black flag day. In the Adivasi area people will put out black flags. The Covid situation is very bad, so we cannot come together in person to march together, people are suffering so much in the villages, there is no work, people don’t have food. 10 farm workers died from Covid in one village (nine men and one woman).”
On 14 May SKM’s Press Statement condemned Modi’s recent announcements of a “new scheme” for farmers instead of repealing the three Farm Laws. Muslim and non-Muslim farm workers and farmers celebrated Eid together at all three camps on the borders of Delhi.
While Netanyahu’s Israel bombs and murders Palestinian people targeting children and health facilities, Modi attacks farmers and focuses on his electoral ambitions, allowing hundreds of thousands to die of Covid. These war mongering governments are backed economically and politically by the US, UK and other European countries, and making billion $ arms deals with each other. India paid Israel $200 million for anti-tank missiles, aerial bombs, tracking systems etc in a secretive deal, and $116.4 million for “light machine guns”; co-developing high tech weapons systems – just some of the information uncovered by the BDS movement in India.
Modi’s BJP party was defeated by a landslide in West Bengal and in other state elections, for example in Kerala. Farmers campaigned hard for this and continue to call for people to vote for farmers and for food sovereignty, against Modi’s party, BJP.
Tragically, a young woman from West Bengal was assaulted on the way to one of the protest camps and later brutally attacked and raped by the same man and others at the camp. Media reports say she later died in hospital. She had told media she did not want the attacks on her used against the movement.
SKM immediately expelled the attackers and issued this public statement resolutely condemning the attacks: “SKM recognises that large-scale participation of women farmers and women farm leaders is a unique strength of this movement. The SKM shall follow Zero Tolerance for any incident of sexual harassment, assault or violence against women.” They are working with the women’s family to get the attackers arrested. SKM announced they are “setting up Mahila Suraksha Samitis (Women’s Safety Committees) at all border protests sites which will look into measures to ensure safety and security of women participating in the movement”.
The farmers movement in India is fighting for the survival of the people of India, and of us all.
We have to increase our support and strengthen it in every way we can. Please circulate this mailing, tweet your support to @kisanektamorcha, get your union/community to support/take action and more…
Victory to the farmers!
Our previous support statements
26 February (“Republic Day”)