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The Conservative party has been accused of being hypocritical for showing support towards the protests of farmers.
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The Conservative party has been accused of being hypocritical for showing support towards the protests of farmers.

Human rights experts have accused the Conservatives of being hypocritical for their handling of climate and Gaza protests while simultaneously supporting and promoting Welsh farmers’ protests.

Last Friday, Rishi Sunak participated in a demonstration led by farmers in Wales who had blocked a road to protest against the new farming subsidies scheme imposed by the Labour government. However, Sunak later declared his intention to take action against such protests, calling them “mob rule”. On Wednesday, Andrew Davies, the Welsh Conservative leader, and several of his fellow members welcomed and took pictures with farmers who had gathered in a large group outside the Senedd and used their tractors to block a main road.

In the City of London, climate activists were taken into custody while they marched to urge insurance companies to cease insuring fossil fuel ventures. During a climate protest at the Axa insurance group’s headquarters on Thursday, protesters were warned by police that standing in the road could result in arrest for obstructing crucial national infrastructure. This is a newly enacted law under the Public Order Act 2023, giving authorities the ability to prosecute individuals who impede roadways.

In the past few years, the government has implemented stricter laws aimed at preventing climate activists from blocking roads, resulting in the imprisonment of many individuals. This week, Sunak unveiled a series of actions to prevent protesters from disrupting the residences or offices of government officials, including those in parliament. However, during a parliamentary session on Wednesday, he expressed his support for Welsh farmers who had assembled in large numbers outside the Welsh parliament.

Human Rights Watch’s UK director, Yasmine Ahmed, expressed concern over the selective treatment of protesters by politicians. She stated that a nation that restricts demonstrations to only those issues it supports is a clear example of authoritarianism. Despite touting itself as a champion of free speech, the government’s protection of this right appears to be dependent on alignment with their views.

Your ability to protest is a fundamental right in a democratic society and essential for a functional democracy. If the prime minister truly values and defends democracy, he should protect these rights for all, instead of implementing stricter limitations on our freedoms.

The broadcaster and wildlife campaigner Chris Packham tweeted a picture of the tractor-blocked road, commenting: “Wake up Daily Mail and Telegraph, protesters are blocking roads, people are missing hospital appointments, funerals, emergency services can’t get through! Here’s some epithets for you ‘Farmo-mob’, ‘Farmo-loons’, ‘Farmo-zealots’. C’mon call for them all to be locked up forever! You wouldn’t want to be accused of hypocrisy!”

The UK’s home secretary, James Cleverly, has advised individuals participating in pro-Palestinian demonstrations to end their protests after successfully conveying their message. These marches have taken place nationwide, with the most significant and noticeable ones occurring in central London on a weekly basis.

Ruth Ehrlich, the leader of policy and campaigns at Liberty, expressed that the government’s communication regarding protests this week has been filled with contradictions and insincerity.

“Ironically, the prime minister is accusing protesters of hindering open discussion, despite the fact that the government’s ongoing attack on protest rights has jeopardized individuals’ freedom and courage to voice their beliefs.”

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Many of the rights that we value today, such as the right to participate in elections and the right to fair working conditions, were fought for and won by citizens who protested and called for change.

During times of heightened tensions and the need for unity among communities, the prime minister’s rhetoric, which is dangerously inciting, is actually causing division instead.

A representative from Extinction Rebellion stated that the government is engaging in childish tactics by supporting farmers who block roads while simultaneously arresting and imprisoning climate activists who do the same. This behavior is both foreseeable and shameful, as they are attempting to divide and conquer protesters by labeling some as “good” and others as “bad”. This is a desperate move to avoid the inevitable backlash from voters that the government is undoubtedly aware of.

A new law has been proposed to prohibit protestors from gathering in front of politicians’ residences, following reports of Just Stop Oil planning to do so to advocate for climate change policies. Some MPs have raised concerns and objections, citing the increasing verbal and physical threats they have faced in recent years and the deaths of two MPs in the past decade. They argue that targeting their homes for protest crosses a line.

The Home Office has been reached out to for a response.

Source: theguardian.com