Following Rihanna’s tweet, other high-profile names including teenage activist Greta Thunberg, US Vice President Kamala Harris’s niece Meena Harris and Lebanese-American model Mia Khalifa showed their solidarity with the farmers.
Thunberg shared the same article, writing: “We stand in solidarity with the #FarmersProtest in India.”
Harris, a lawyer and author, wrote: “It’s no coincidence that the world’s oldest democracy was attacked not even a month ago, and as we speak, the most populous democracy is under assault. This is related. We ALL should be outraged by India’s internet shutdowns and paramilitary violence against farmer protesters.”
Khalifa shared a photo of protesters, writing: “”Paid actors,” huh? Quite the casting director, I hope they’re not overlooked during awards season. I stand with the farmers. #FarmersProtest.”
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The international organisation Human Rights Watch has also been highlighting the farmers’ plight.
In response to criticism, India’s external affairs ministry says the new legislation has followed full debate and discussion.
It also put out a statement that appeared to refer directly to Rihanna’s tweet, saying: “The temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible.”
Tens of thousands of farmers have been living in makeshift campsites on the outskirts of New Delhi for several months and say they will remain in place until the new laws are repealed.
Demonstrators say the new laws around the sale, pricing and storage of produce will turn agriculture corporate, and make them vulnerable to exploitation by private companies.
However, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi says the changes are necessary to modernise Indian farming.
Clashes between the protesters and government forces last week left one protester dead and nearly 400 police officers injured.
In response, authorities – who are notoriously sensitive to any form of public criticism – suspended internet access to several areas around the capital and have previously blocked the Twitter accounts of farmers’ leaders and activists.