Over 500 tobacco farmers from various tobacco growing countries, including India and Brazil, were on Monday detained by the Noida police for protesting at the ongoing COP7 WHO FCTC -- world's biggest convention on tobacco control policy.
The farmers protested outside the main gate of International Exposition Mart here, where members from over 180 countries have gathered to discuss a more stringent framework for tobacco control.
Health Minister J. P Nadda on Monday inaugurated the WHO FCTC COP7 here, being held for the first time in India.
According to the farmers, the convention was undemocratic as they were denied participation despite several requests. The farmers under the banner of Federation of All India Farmers Association (FAIFA) had also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Nadda over the issue.
"The non-democratic procedures and decision-making processes are a breach of India's high democratic ideals that uphold participation and dialogue. WHO's FCTC COP7 global conference decided to keep farmers away from the critical decision-making about their future, despite repeated appeals and requests to be included," said B.
V. Jaware Gowda, President of FAIFA.
Gowda said that the non-inclusive decisions at WHO FCTC COP7 are expected to severely impact the lives and livelihoods of 4.6 crore Indians associated with the tobacco industry alone in the country.
The farmers community also jointly passed a Delhi Declaration outlining steps to fight the unfair and unjust approach to tobacco control.
Antonio Abrunhosa, CEO of International Tobacco Growers Association(ITGA), said, "WHO-FCTC has been facing global criticism for keeping the proceedings veiled from the public under the pretext of preventing influence from the industry. It is a well known principle that unsuspecting groups who are likely to lose their livelihoods because of sudden policy changes should be given both an opportunity as well as a voice to better prepare for their future."
"Growers just ask for dialogue on policy decisions that will affect millions of growers' families. Their offer for cooperation has been ignored until now. We join the pledge with the Indian farming community to fight against the opaque approach of WHO-FCTC by signing the Delhi Declaration," said Abrunhosa.
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