Das sponsors resolution to honor Indian Farm Workers

OLYMPIA — Sen. Mona Das (D-Kent) introduced a resolution to acknowledge and honor the Indian Farm Worker movement, as well as the Sikh, Indian, and Indian-Americans advocating for justice and economic rights both at home and abroad.

“Our neighbors all across the state of Washington have been asking us to speak to an issue that is impacting many of our loved ones right now,” Das said. “I have traditionally sponsored a resolution to celebrate our state’s Sikh community, but this year, advocates requested acknowledgement and solidarity through the Indian Farm Workers Resolution.”

The resolution recognizes that the movement to earn better labor rights and protections for farmers in India is decades old, and that over 100,000 Indian farm workers have been protesting in recent months in response to legislation from the Indian government. The legislation directly affected farm laborers and their means of trade and income, and caused a major disruption in the agricultural market.

During her remarks on the Senate floor, Das said, “That legislation sent farm laborers into poverty, forced the sale of their lands, and contributed to the death of over 40,000 farm laborers by suicide. With this resolution today, I want to honor the lives lost.

“I also want to recognize the powerful non-violent protests – led by farm laborers and farmland owners – that are being heard around the world. As today’s resolution says, the farmer’s protest has shown the resiliency of, and dedication to, preserving culture, community, and intergenerational well-being.

Our Sikh neighbors, Indian neighbors, and Indian-American neighbors continue to embody that resilience and care for community.”

In Washington, local governments including the Kent City Council and the King County Council have passed resolutions acknowledging the non-violent Indian Farm Workers protest. Today, with SR 8625, the Washington State Senate joined them.

Kent City Councilmember Satwinder Kaur said, “I’m glad that we can partner at the local level with the state level to recognize and to honor our vibrant, resilient Sikh and Indian community. This is a meaningful step that we’ve taken – to raise our voices in solidarity with our neighbors, locally and globally.”

Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Kirkland), who also spoke to the resolution today, said, “Fundamental to democracy is the notion that all voices can be heard without threat of violence. As nations committed to democracy, we have to stand together to support those who are speaking out peacefully.

“Farmers in India are standing up for their rights and their livelihoods, and we in Washington must stand with them.

“Last summer, we saw people around the world speak out with one voice in support of the Black Lives Matter movement here in America. In that spirit, we must fight inequity and racism in all corners of the world.”