"Suppression of peaceful protests has become a pattern" says International Commission of Jurists

ICJ said the authorities have launched a crackdown on farmers' movement in an aggressive manner.

International commission of Jurists (ICJ) a global human rights organizations. In a release, the ICJ on Thursday asked Indian officials to remove barricades at farmers' protest around borders of Delhi. It has also asked to stop making arbitrary arrests after the January 26 unrest.

ICJ said the authorities have launched a crackdown on farmers' movement in an aggressive manner.

The ICJ added, that "since early February 2021, police have used metal barricades, cement walls and iron nails to block the roads leading to Tikri, Singhu, Ghazipur, the three main borders where the farmers have assembled. They have done so to prevent any vehicles from these areas entering Delhi. The barricades have also served to deny male and female farmers and their families, including children, consistent access to water and sanitation facilities. The protests at these sites over the past two months are reported to have been peaceful."

While talking about Journalists, ICJ added, "two journalists were detained and assaulted for reporting from the ground, while nine senior journalists have been threatened with criminal charges including sedition charges by the Indian Government."

It further added, "More than 125 persons, including farmers and also bystanders have reportedly been arrested largely in response to a violent  clash that occurred on 26 January 2021. At least 21 farmers are reported to be currently missing."

“Rather than protecting the right to peaceful protest as required by law, the Indian authorities have cracked down on farmers in an arbitrary and aggressive manner, using unlawful force and preventing free movement as well as access to essential facilities”, said Ian Seiderman, ICJ’s Legal and Policy Director.

The Indian Supreme Court on 17 December 2020, upheld the right to protest of farmers calling it “part of a fundamental right” which can be exercised “subject to public order”. The Court has further said that “[t]here can certainly be no impediment in the exercise of such rights as long as it is non-violent and does not result in damage to the life and properties of other citizens and is in accordance with law.”

“The suppression of the right to peaceful assembly has become a pattern in India, as we saw in December 2019 and January 2020 with the mass arrests of students and human rights defenders who were protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act,” said Seiderman.

The ICJ called on the responsible authorities to remove barricades around protest sites, enable access to water and sanitation facilities and to desist from further arbitrary arrests.

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