Sri Lankan activists hold a demonstration to show solidarity with Indian farmers at Negombo bus terminal on Jan. 26. (Photo: UCA News)
Sri Lankan activists have held demonstrations across the country in support of Indian farmers protesting against new farm laws.
Herman Kumara, head of Indian-Sri Lankan People's Solidarity, said farmers, fishermen and workers staged demonstrations in 12 cities in Sri Lanka in solidarity with Indian farmers on India's Republic Day on Jan. 26.
Indian farmers have been staging protests in capital New Delhi for more than 50 days after claiming the legislation favors private businessmen.
"The new laws clearly state that the public procurement system will collapse, the prices of farm produce will fall and the opportunity to farm on a contract basis will benefit private businesses and large-scale enterprises," said Kumara.
"In Sri Lanka, as well as the parallel laws on land, agriculture and related laws, and the new constitutional amendment, it is clear that the state is moving away from its responsibilities, privatizing public services as well as allowing the private sector to act as it sees fit.
"Small-scale farmers have been evicted from their land and large-scale investors are being provided with land and facilities for commercial cultivation, turning them into hired laborers within the farming companies themselves. We as farmers, fishermen and workers are in solidarity with Indian farmers' struggle."
The Indian laws lay out the framework for businessmen to purchase crops directly from farmers and bypass government marketing boards meant to ensure fair prices.
The farmers say the recently passed legislation was designed to allow billionaires such as Mukesh Ambani and the Adani Group to enter farming.
The Sri Lankan Port Authority union alleges that the Indian government is putting undue pressure on the Sri Lankan government to hand over the development and operation of Colombo port terminal to the Adani Group.
Francis Rajan, a member of the National Fisheries Solidarity Organization, said the Adani Group will gain significant revenue generated by the Colombo port terminal.
"We fight together on a global scale, not just Indians or Sri Lankans. Accordingly, their struggle is not only theirs but also ours," said Rajan.
Colombo port terminal is one of the busiest ports in South Asia. An estimated 70 percent of India's import and export cargo is trans-shipped through the port.
"Small-scale fishermen are being driven from their homes and government policies have changed in the interests of foreign companies for tourism in Sri Lanka," said Rajan.
A Catholic nun who asked to remain anonymous said it is very unfortunate that various businessmen, politicians and their relatives work together to plunder the resources of the two countries.
"Workers demonstrate on the streets every day against the sale of 49 percent of the East Container Terminal of Colombo port to India's Adani Group and other stakeholders," she said.
"Due to these companies and their profitable projects, the working class, the farmers and fishermen have lost their right to life."