01 April 2016
PENANG, Malaysia – We are deeply appalled by the series of violence inflicted by state security forces against farmers in the region asserting their basic rights.
We denounce these repressive acts in the strongest terms and call upon the authorities to immediately hold to account all those responsible behind the vicious attacks on Indonesian and Filipino farmers, indigenous peoples and their supporters.
On 29 March, about 700 marching farmers in Central Sulawesi province in Indonesia were blocked and fired upon with rubber bullets by the police and military. At least 14 were hurt while 103 were arrested and detained for than 24 hours. The farmers were supposed to join the protest rally in the provincial capital as part of the global action on the Day of the Landless organized by the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC).
Then just three days later, on 1 April, the police opened fire at some 5,000 protesting farmers and indigenous people in Cotabato province in the Philippines. At least three people were confirmed dead while 116 others were wounded. Some 87 others were also reportedly missing. The farmers and indigenous people have set up a human barricade in the provincial highway to demand urgent relief from the government amid the intense drought that has hit the province since last year.
The farmers are simply exercising their basic right to make their grievances known to those who are in power and in position to address their legitimate demands. They have been compelled to protest apparently because of the failure of those who are supposed to promote their interest and welfare, including on issues of access to land and livelihood, and on sufficient and reliable government services. That they are met with state violence makes their oppression and neglect doubly worse and deplorable.
We believe that the right of farmers, indigenous people, rural women, and other marginalized and neglected rural sectors to live decently and with dignity must be upheld and promoted always. That is why we have been working closely with the Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (AGRA) and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) – the main organizers of the farmers’ unjustly suppressed protests in Indonesia and the Philippines, respectively, in the campaign against land grabbing and human rights violations, and for food sovereignty and genuine agrarian reform.
We strongly support their demand for justice for all the victims of, and accountability from those behind, these latest cases of police and military brutality. We join the call to end the reign of impunity that has long been gripping the Indonesian and Philippine countryside at the expense of the poor and the landless. ###
Reference: Sarojeni Rengam, PAN Asia Pacific, Executive Director, email@example.com