The UN Human Rights office urged demonstrators and the government Friday to “exercise maximum restraint” during farmers’ protest in India as police complained of tweets by Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg.
“The rights to peaceful assembly and expression should be protected both offline and online,” the office tweeted regarding the issue that has turned street protests into a Twitter war. “It’s crucial to find equitable solutions with due respect to human rights for all.”
Thunberg tweeted support for the protests, which led police Thursday to complain about the Swedish climate campaigner, according to reports.
The cyber exchanges highlighted social media campaigning and the reaction that has again come to the fore in large protests in different countries.
A New Delhi police spokesman told Anadolu Agency that he does not have any details to offer regarding the development around the Swedish activist.
Thunberg said she still “supports their peaceful protest” after the new development.
“No amount of hate, threats, or violations of human rights will ever change that,” she wrote.
Thousands of farmers have demonstrated on the outskirts of Delhi since November against laws meant to liberalize the agriculture sector.
Farmers claim the new rules will threaten their livelihoods.
While the protests were peaceful when they began, they turned violent Jan.26, when farmers broke police barricades to storm the historic Red Fort in New Delhi, injuring at least 400 officers.
The government cut off the internet at protest sites, installed iron nails and put barbed wire to barricade protesting areas.
Earlier, the government issued a disproportionate response to a tweet from popstar Rihanna supporting massive protests against the new laws.
“The temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible,” said a statement by India’s Ministry of External Affairs.
The ministry noted protests must be seen in the context of India’s “democratic ethos and polity” and “efforts of the government” and the farmers to resolve the “impasse.”
Rihanna, who has more than 101 million Twitter followers, while sharing a news article by the CNN network about the protests, late Tuesday wrote: “Why aren’t we talking about this?!”
Soon after her tweet, Thunberg, Meena Harris, niece of US Vice President Kamala Harris and other international celebrities extended support to the ongoing protests.
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