Rural youth, advance the people’s rights to land and life! Fight for genuine agrarian reform and food sovereignty!

Unity statement issued by participants of the Youth consultation workshop on enhancing youth participation in rural issues, struggles and alternatives, 16-18 July 2016, MangaRita Organic Farm, Capas, Tarlac, Philippines

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We believe that landlessness underlines the various structural social ills facing the vast majority of rural people in the region. Lack of own land to till leads to the physical, economic and cultural dislocation of countless peasant and indigenous communities. To survive, many are forced to sell their labor very cheaply as farm workers or migrate to urban areas for odd jobs with incomes that do not afford them a decent living.

Worse, the concentration of land in the hands of a few continues to intensify under neoliberal globalization. In complicity with national governments and international financial institutions, big local and foreign business interests are grabbing away land, water and other resources, including through public-private partnerships (PPPs), from local communities resulting to greater poverty and hunger in the rural areas. Corporate plantations are aggressively expanding and in the process do not only grab away lands but also poison the people and the environment with their agrochemical-intensive and unsustainable farming systems. These agrochemicals include even those that are already banned in industrialized countries and dumped in poor countries.

In addition, extreme weather events brought about by climate change make farming even more challenging and difficult, thus further aggravating the plight of farmers and resource-dependent communities.

Indeed, it is the biggest irony that those who directly produce food are among the world’s hungriest and most food insecure as a handful of landlords, local elites, and corporations accumulate wealth from the poverty and displacement of farmers and indigenous peoples.

We note that the realities of landlessness, land grabbing, and relentless neoliberal onslaught in agriculture in the region exploit and oppress the rural youth in various ways. At a young age, the rural youth become unpaid laborers in haciendas and plantations to help their families make both ends meet. When they themselves become tenant farmers or plantation workers, they suffer the exploitative production relations with landlords, local elites, or corporations. When they migrate to urban centers or to other countries in desperation to look for better economic opportunities, they become even more vulnerable being away from their families at an early age. Rural women youth are particularly exposed to trafficking, sexual harassment and prostitution.

Education and cultural identity are central to the holistic development of the youth. But poverty and lack of economic opportunities due to landlessness, coupled with the sheer abandonment and neglect of governments to provide education for its people under neoliberal globalization, deprive the rural youth of access to education. Meanwhile, the kind of education being peddled by neoliberal globalization promotes individualism, colonial mentality and subservience to the interest of the market instead of the development agenda and aspirations of the people, including the promotion of agriculture for national industrialization and food sovereignty. Cultural identity and traditional knowledge are systematically eroded to transform the youth as slaves of global monopoly capitalism.

We also take notice, with utmost urgency, how the rural people, including the youth and children, become victims of human rights atrocities and repression being carried out by state and private security forces to protect and expand corporate interests in the rural areas.

In the face of such huge challenges, we, the rural youth, as members of families and communities of rural people; and collectively the inheritor of the future we choose to forge today, demand:

  1. The implementation of genuine agrarian reform through the free distribution of land to the landless, and dismantling the land monopoly of landlords and corporations.
  2. The promotion of food sovereignty or the power of the people and their communities, including the rural youth, to assert and realize their right to food and to define their own food systems.
  3. An end to land grabbing being carried out through the expansion of agricultural plantations, implementation of so-called “development” projects under public-private partnerships, etc. to enable the rural population to enjoy the fruits of their labor and have a degree of economic security.
  4. The promotion of and support for farmer-centered agricultural research and development, including adequate and reliable state support in infrastructure and other services as part of a genuine agrarian reform program, to ensure sufficient livelihood and decent employment opportunities for rural people and end forced migrations.
  5. The promotion of just wages and safe labor conditions that will allow the rural youth, including migrant workers, and others engaged in waged agricultural work and their families to achieve decent living standards.
  6. The preservation and promotion of indigenous, traditional, and collective culture and knowledge among the rural youth.
  7. The democratization of access to education, which sufficiently discusses the important role of sustainable agriculture in the comprehensive and appropriate development of national economies responsive to the immediate and long-term needs of its people.
  8. The delivery of sufficient basic social services and safety net programs to the rural areas, including health and medical services for young rural women; and expose bogus social protection programs, which merely serves to obscure landlessness and other fundamental causes of rural poverty.
  9. The protection of the environment and people’s health by promoting organic and agro-ecological farming, climate-resilient agriculture, and safe food as opposed to corporate, chemical-intensive agriculture.
  10. An end to state-sponsored political persecution and human rights violations against rural people, including the youth, who are defending and asserting their collective rights to land and livelihood; make accountable all those responsible for the abuses; and assist the families of the victims.

We vow to use various strategies to push forward our demands, including through grassroots education, organizing and mobilization; policy advocacy; research and documentation; cultural work and advocacy; exchange programs; alliance building; coordinated regional and global actions; and maximizing information and communication technology, among others.

As youth activists and advocates, we firmly believe in the energy, vitalitity, enthusiasm, creativity and commitment of the rural youth to become leading participants in the movement to defend the people’s collective rights to land and life, for genuine agrarian reform and for food sovereignty.

Rural youth rise now! Assert people’s rights and food sovereignty! Fight for genuine agrarian reform!

On the continuing violation of the right to land and life of Lumad communities in Misamis Oriental, Philippines

It is with utmost alarm and indignation that we in PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) convey our condemnation of the reported continuing violation of the human rights of the Lumad group Higaonon from Misamis Oriental province in the Philippines.

The Higaonon people of Lagonglong town in Misamis Oriental have been driven away again from their ancestral lands and forced to abandon their livelihoods due to alleged relentless harassment by units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

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Photo from sunstar.com.ph

As advocates of the right to land and life of peasant and indigenous communities, we stand in solidarity with the Lumad in their struggle to return to their home and way of life safe from any form of intimidation.

Based on reports from our friends and partners in the Philippines, soldiers allegedly peppered a local school with bullets and looted houses. When the people left to flee the military atrocities, the soldiers set up camp in front of the area where the Lumad evacuated. The military justifies its actions by claiming that the locals are supporters or members of the armed rebel group New People’s Army (NPA).

But the inhumanity reportedly being committed by soldiers against the Lumad – including children who now suffer various illnesses in the evacuation center, not to mention the deep trauma from their ordeal – is absolutely unacceptable even when carried out in the name of government’s counter-insurgency campaign. The military is, in fact, fanning the insurgency as more and more rural families in the Philippine countryside become displaced and landless.

We join the Lumad in their unwavering assertion for land and life as we express deep hope that the incoming new Philippine administration and its stated willingness to peacefully deal with the decades-old insurgency would open up opportunities for the Lumad to return home and live in peace on their lands that have nurtured them for generations. ###

Reference: Ms. Sarojeni Rengam, PAN Asia Pacific, Executive Director,nolandnolife@panap.net

Agroecology multiversity launched: “It’s a school, community and movement rolled into one”

PENANG, Malaysia – From a field-learning site somewhere in the Philippine countryside, a farmer shares through an online video platform his experience and best practices on how to grow vegetables without using harmful agrochemicals and make decent earnings. His audience includes fellow vegetable growers in Malaysia, agriculture students in South Korea, a scientist from New Zealand and organic food advocates in the US. A lively exchange of ideas followed, with all the participants learning new knowledge and insights on how to maximize and further advance agroecological farming.

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The setting described above is one of the various ways of how the online portal and global network of field-learning sites called International People’s Agroecology Multiversity (IPAM) is being envisioned by its proponents. Penang-based regional advocacy group PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) officially launched the IPAM today to also mark the World Environment Day.

“There is a tremendous wealth of knowledge and experience on the ground on how small farmers practice agroecology. The challenge is how do we bring all these together, and disseminate and enrich them in a systematic way. We hope that IPAM could be that platform,” said Anwar Fazal, a leading grassroots environmental activist in Malaysia and one of the brains behind IPAM.

IPAM will also be a storehouse of researches and other published materials on agroecology that farmers, activists, scientists, researchers, policy makers, and others can access. Modules and online and onsite training courses on agroecological farming are also offered.

Amid the dim prospects of worsening global hunger, intensifying climate change and continuing predominance of chemical-intensive, environmentally unsustainable corporate agricultural production, agroecology emits a glimmer of hope. The United Nations (UN) says that agroecology can double food production, mitigate climate change and alleviate poverty – good news in the face of increasingly severe typhoons and droughts as more than a billion people – most of whom are those who directly produce the world’s food themselves – go to bed hungry every night.

For PANAP, which has been campaigning against harmful pesticides and promoting food sovereignty, IPAM is part of strengthening the people’s movement that challenges profit-driven, corporate control of agriculture and food production. “The heart and soul of IPAM are the field-learning sites where farmers and agroecology and food sovereignty advocates and experts learn from each other not only through online sharing but as well as through actual study visits, immersions and even solidarity actions. So for us, IPAM is a tool not just for research and learning but equally important, it’s also a venue to facilitate people’s collective action and movement building,” PANAP executive director and IPAM international coordinator Sarojeni Rengam said.

The IPAM is accessible at http://ipamglobal.org/. ###

For more information, contact:
Sarojeni V. Rengam at sarojeni.rengam@panap.net
PANAP phone number: +6046570271
Or Marjo Busto Quinto at marjo.busto@panap.net

PANAP lauds appointment of peasant leader Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano as Philippine agrarian reform chief

The PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) joins the peasant movement in the Philippines in welcoming the appointment of Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano as the new Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) by incoming President Rodrigo Duterte.

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Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano giving the keynote address at the 2013 PANAP Congress

Ka Paeng’s appointment is certainly a very positive development for advocates of genuine agrarian reform. As a long-time leader of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement of the Philippines or KMP), Ka Paeng has a solid track record in defending the rights of farmers over land and other productive resources.

As one of our most reliable partners in the campaign against land grabbing and promotion of people’s food sovereignty, we have witnessed how KMP led by Ka Paeng and other peasant leaders has tirelessly worked to advance the interests and welfare of small and poor farmers, including the landless, not only in the Philippines but in the region as well.

PANAP has always valued the sharp insights of Ka Paeng, even when he was already a member of the Philippine Congress, in advancing various peasant campaigns in Asia Pacific. He was a member of PANAP’s Task Force on Food Sovereignty that conceptualized and led, among others, the People’s Caravan on Food Sovereignty, which mobilized 500 organizations in 16 countries.

We hope that Ka Paeng’s appointment will also serve as an inspiration for the peasant movement in the region. It affirms that through unwavering struggle, even the powers that be is forced to recognize the need to put peasant activists in government to push for meaningful policy reforms that will truly benefit the oppressed and exploited farmers.

But we also acknowledge that even with Ka Paeng at the helm of the agrarian reform ministry, pro-farmer reforms will not automatically happen as long as the overall agrarian and agricultural development program remains biased to landlords and big corporations. Thus, as our friends in KMP know, while Ka Paeng’s appointment as DAR Secretary is a new and exciting chapter in our struggle, we must persevere more in our work to further strengthen the peasant movement in the Philippines and in the region. ###

Reference: Ms. Sarojeni V. Rengam, Executive Director, nolandnolife@panap.net

Know more about Ka Paeng

#NoLandNoLife | Indonesia: PANAP conveys solidarity with Kampung Dadap’s struggle for land and livelihood

Solidarity Statement

16 May 2016

We convey our firm solidarity with the people of Kampung Dadap in their struggle against the “PT Tangerang International City” (TIC) – a government backed massive reclamation project in Kampung Dadap, Tangerang Regency in Indonesia, and express our serious concern on the repression reportedly being committed against them.

According to the Jakarta post, the TIC will reclaim 9,000 hectares of sea. Indonesian peasant group Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (AGRA) said that the reclamation project will displace about 900 families of small fisherfolk, small traders and casual laborers from their lands, homes and main sources of livelihood.

The TIC is part of the Salim Group and plans to reclaim seven islands stretching along 52 kilometers of the coast from Kronjo to Dadap, according to the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC). AGRA and APC have been our partner in the “No Land! No Life!” campaign against land grabbing and for the promotion of human rights in the region.

Unfortunately, instead of addressing the people’s legitimate grievances, fisherfolk and other rural communities opposing the PT Tangerang International City face increasing repression. A protest rally against the communities’ forced eviction last 11 May has resulted to eight victims of gunshot wounds, based on reports that PANAP received.

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Photo credit: AGRA

The incident in Kampung Dadap shows how supposed development projects driven by profit-seeking motives of big private companies are often carried out without the consent of the affected communities and at the expense of their rights and welfare. OurLand & Rights Watch initiative has monitored a total of 22 human rights violation cases related to development projects from January 2015 to present.

We urge the Indonesian authorities to heed the people’s demand to stop land and resource grabbing and halt the reclamation project. The people’s rights and welfare should always be paramount in any development project that the government intends to implement. We also urge that the incident last 11 May be immediately investigated and those behind the shooting be made to account. ###

#NoLandNoLife | Land and food, not bullets: Stop the violence against Asian farmers

Press Statement

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.

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Photo credit: AGRA

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).

 

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Photo credit: Kilab Multimedia

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, nolandnolife@panap.net

#NoLandNoLife | Groups plan campaign vs. corporate oil palm plantations, mark Day of the Landless

Press Release

29 March 2016

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Advocacy group PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) today joined peasant and indigenous groups, land activists, and human rights campaigners in the region in marking the global Day of the Landless through a solidarity action in Jakarta.

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Photo credit: AGRA

Together with the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) and Asia Monitor Resource Center (AMRC), PANAP was among the organizers of the Asia Strategy Meeting on Corporate Palm Oil Plantations held in the Indonesian capital. Organizations from Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Hong Kong attended the meeting.

Peasant group AGRA (Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria) organized a protest march in front of the President’s Palace in Jakarta, which targeted about 1,000 participants to highlight the Indonesian rural people’s struggle for land.

“Corporate oil palm plantations are one of the biggest drivers of land grabbing in Indonesia. About 29 million hectares of palm oil lands in our country are controlled by just 25 companies including Sinar Mas and the Wilmar group,” said Rahmat Ajiguna, AGRA chairperson and APC secretary general.

Around Indonesia, AGRA chapters and allies in 18 provinces also held simultaneous actions on the Day of the Landless, mobilizing about 10,000 small and landless farmers, indigenous peoples, rural women and other marginalized rural sectors.

“The strategy meeting on oil palm is timely amid the massive expansion of the industry. We need to launch a coordinated campaign that will expose and oppose the plantation companies and the investors that back them up including the transnational banks and international financial institutions like the World Bank,” APC chairperson Rafael Mariano said.

PANAP executive director Sarojeni Rengam, for her part, reiterated that solidarity through regional actions among mass movements campaigning on the ground against land grabbing must continue to be strengthened. “The landless people, including those displaced by corporate oil palm plantations, have been fighting back. An effective regional initiative needs to build on and highlight these struggles and victories,” Rengam said.

Rural folks are poor mainly due to landlessness. About eight out of 10 of the world’s poorest live in the rural areas, many of them from landless rural families. The advocacy group GRAIN estimates that a mere quarter of farmlands globally are in the hands of small farmers. This amid continuing threat of land grabbing by big corporations and investors. There are more than 1,000 land deals covering almost 38 million hectares worldwide, based on data compiled by the website Land Matrix.

29 March is a historic event in the people’s struggle for land and resources in the Asia Pacific with the founding of the APC on the said date 13 years ago to challenge imperialist and feudal oppression and exploitation. The APC is composed of farmers, landless peasants, farmworkers, peasant women, fisherfolk, dalits, herders, pastoralists, indigenous peoples, rural youth and their allies. PANAP is an associate member of the APC.

PANAP and APC also launched the campaign “No Land, No Life!” on the Day of the Landless 2015 as a regional initiative to highlight the human rights aspect of land grabbing. ###

For more details, please contact Ms. Danica Castillo of the PANAP secretariat atnolandnolife@panap.net

PANAP gears up for Day of the Landless, joins global outcry for justice for Lat Am land activists

Press Release
23 March 2016
PENANG, Malaysia – As various peasant and indigenous people’s groups gear up for the “Day of the Landless” on 29 March, regional advocacy group PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) today joins the global outcry for justice for slain land activists and indigenous people’s leaders in Honduras and Colombia whose deaths are apparently linked to their strong opposition to large-scale corporate mining and logging.

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Berta Caceres and Nelson Garcia are leaders of the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras (COPINH), a group opposing large scale mining and logging. Caceres was killed last 2 March while Garcia’s murder followed less than two weeks later. The former was the 2015 winner of the Goldman environmental prize.

In Colombia, community leader William Castillo Chima was killed last 7 March. Chima has worked with local campesino organizations to campaign for land rights. María Dania Arrieta Pérez who worked with Chima has reportedly received death threats in the days prior to his murder. Community leader Maricela Tombe and indigenous leader William Alexander Oime were killed last 28 February and 1 March respectively. Both are known defenders of indigenous peoples’ rights.
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PANAP, the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC), and other groups in the region mark 29 March of every year as the “Day of the Landless”, which is APC’s founding date, to highlight the rural people’s continuing struggle against feudal oppression and exploitation and against land grabbing. The “Day of the Landless” is part of PANAP and APC’s “No Land, No Life!” campaign that kicked off on 29 March 2015 (Read here)

PANAP expressed grave alarm over the intensifying attacks against land activists and the reigning impunity in Colombia and Honduras. Two consecutive reports by Global Witness in 2014 and 2015 have already identified Colombia and Honduras as dangerous countries for environmental defenders but the numbers continue to rise.

PANAP’s own human rights monitoring initiative Land & Rights Watch has monitored a total of 42 cases of human rights violations in the context of land grabbing in Latin America from January 2015 to 15 March 2016. The group called for a thorough and credible investigation to hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes.

The group said that gross human rights violations are prevalent in rural communities worldwide where there is strong assertion for the people’s rights to land and resources. In Ethiopia, for instance, over 140 anti-land grab activists and farmers have been killed in just three months (November 2015 to January 2016). The Lumads of Mindanao, Philippines continue to suffer from displacement and killings where the 58 Lumads have been killed since 2010 to September 2015.

PANAP will join peasant and indigenous people’s leaders from member-organizations of APC in Jakarta, Indonesia to mark this year’s “Day of the Landless”. Several groups in the region are planning to hold coordinated activities as well. ###

For more information, contact Danica Castillo of the PANAP secretariat at nolandnolife@panap.net

– See more at: http://www.panap.net/campaigns/land-food-rights/noland-nolife/post/2821#sthash.Zrn1b5R8.dpuf

In time for International Working Women’s Day 2016: Stories of 500 Rural Women Leaders Launched

Press Release

08 March 2016

Women’s stories assert rights to land and resources

“We’ve learned that mining companies are after the rich minerals and biodiversity found in our communities. As a result, our ancestral domain is being grabbed and encroached by greedy businessmen and foreign companies…We still have the same problems my parents faced three decades ago. And we confront these problems like they did:  we fight!”

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The story of Gertrudes Layal, a Lumad leader from Mindanao, Philippines finds resonance with other women’s stories from other countries in Asia, particularly Philippines and Malaysia. These women are at the forefront of the battle against land grabbing by their states, usually for transnational corporations’ interests in mining, agricultural plantations and energy. Their stories are part of a collection of 500 rural women leaders’ stories being launched online today by PAN Asia Pacific and its partner organisations, in time for International Working Women’s Day 2016.

With the theme “500 Rural Women Leaders:  Asserting Rights to Land and Resources”, the collection features the life, struggles and triumphs of current rural women leaders. Their stories speak of a wide range of issues facing rural women today, such as poverty, land grabbing, landlessness, lack of jobs and livelihoods, lack of basic social services, climate change, gender discrimination and violence and caste discrimination and violence, to name a few.

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But rural women are fighting back, at the forefront of their communities and side-by-side with men.  The stories narrate how the women organize themselves into groups, associations or join existing women’s groups to advance common concerns and cause; how they creatively raise awareness through education, trainings and mass campaigns; how they collectively take action through petitions, dialogues, demonstrations and strikes; and how they find viable alternatives in the midst of long-drawn struggles, such as ecological farming against use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers, or land occupation and collective farming against landlessness and land grabbing by the state.

As Aravalli, a Dalit widow from Ananthapuram, Andra Pradesh, India narrates in her story:“On 1st November, the eve of Andhra Formation Day when the government is celebrating, we collectively occupied the land and planted Ragi (finger millet).  When the landlord came with police and revenue officer, I told them that this land belongs to all of us because we are poor and eligible to cultivate the land…The landlord and police held back as we already have the caveat from the court. Although the case is still on-going, land is in our hands.”

Aravalli and Gertrudes’ stories and the rest of the women’s narratives represent 18 countries from 29 partner groups in South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka); Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam), East Asia (China), Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan), Pacific (Fiji), and Africa (Senegal, Ghana, Ethiopia).

The collection of stories come under the PAN Asia Pacific campaign “No Land, No Life” and is a continuation of the 16 Days of Global Action on Rural Women, both launched last year. It aims to document and highlight the leadership and importance of rural women, draw lessons from their failures and victories, and inspire others especially the new generation of women, with the collective strength and leadership of rural women.

To read the stories, click the link: http://www.panap.net/campaigns/women-assert-our-rights/500-rural-women-leaders

Reference:  Marjo Busto, PAN Asia Pacific, ARWC Secretariat, marjo.busto@panap.net

Fight Back Imperialist Globalisation, Militarism and Religious Fundamentalism!

Statement of the Asian Rural Women’s Coalition for the International Working Women’s Day

08 March 2016

As we celebrate International Working Women’s Day today, we also mourn the death 5 days ago of Berta Caceres: a Lenca woman leader and environmental activist murdered for the defense of her people and their lands in Honduras. Her life and struggle mirrors that of women around the globe, who suffer but fight back against imperialist globalisation and militarism.

After three decades of neo-liberal globalisation, and as its economic and social crisis deepens, women all over the world face intensified exploitation, oppression, multiple forms of discrimination and violence. Women and families coming from underdeveloped countries suffer worse conditions, as the burden of the imperialist crisis is shifted to their countries.

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Neo-liberal globalisation intensifies inequalities of wealth, power and resources between countries, between rich and poor, and between men and women. It further escalates land, water and resource grabbing in the imperialist drive for profit and geo-political control, concentrated in the hands of big transnational and local corporations and landlords, for dams, mining, agricultural plantations and aquacultures. These displace peasant women, indigenous women, fisherfolk women and their families, as well as other rural sectors sourcing their livelihoods from the land and waters. Peasant and indigenous women’s role as food producers and seed keepers are drastically eroded, putting food security and safety at risk and farmers at the mercy of patented and genetically modified seeds.

Mining displaces indigenous women and entire farming communities from their homes, livelihoods, and native cultures. Armies, police and mining company goons inflict gross human rights abuses to the displaced population as well as to those resisting mining. This plunder of natural resources has also resulted to climate change and catastrophic disasters. Rural women bear the brunt of climate change and disasters, as they are in charge of food production, water supply and maintaining families’ homes. Environmental and natural disasters place women and children most vulnerable to health risks, while placing women at higher risks of harm and even death when disasters strike.

Within the framework of neo-liberal economic agenda, the US-led TPPA (Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement) will deepen imperialist economic control of poor and underdeveloped countries in the region as it further opens up land and resources to imperialist plunder. For toiling women of Asia, this will mean further economic oppression.

When imperialist interests are at stake, militarism in the form of wars of aggression and interventions are not far behind. The TPPA is partnered with the “US pivot to Asia” which will strengthen US economic, military and political control in the Asia Pacific as well as contain China as a threat to US power in the region. This will bring about heightened political repression in countries like the Philippines where US-puppet regimes are installed and are eager to surrender national sovereignty. For women activists, movements and human rights defenders in the region, this spells heightened human rights violations and political repression.

Religious fundamentalism is on the rise in the past years, especially in South Asian countries like India. Generated and fanned by the protracted and worsening crisis of imperialism, religious bigotry with the support of imperialist forces, state and non-state actors, have intensified rural women’s invisibility, further restricted women’s civil and political rights, legitimated violence against women, revived religious sanctioned prostitution, perpetuated discrimination and denied women’s inherent right to control their lives, bodies, sexuality and resources. Fundamentalisms and imperialist globalisation processes interact with caste discrimination denying Dalit women the right to life, land, and equal status with men.

Rural women in Asia condemn and resist land and resource grabbing, militarism and fundamentalism and is in solidarity with the women of the world resisting imperialist globalisation.

We reaffirm our demand and persevere in the struggle for genuine agrarian and aquatic reforms and rural women’s ownership and access to land, waters and other resources; food sovereignty and ecological biodiversity based agriculture; the right to self-determination; the right to fair living wages, job security, freedom of association and our demand for development justice.

We reaffirm our demand and resolutely struggle for an end to all state-led, state-supported wars; justice for all human rights defenders and affected communities; the prioritization of basic social services over military budgets; the repeal of repressive laws and an end to extra judicial killings and enforced disappearances.

We reaffirm our demand and determinedly struggle for an end to the caste system and untouchability practices; our inherent right to life with dignity; our sexual and reproductive health and rights; and our right to political representation at all policy levels to represent different religions, ethnic groups and marginalised sectors.

Rural women in Asia are more resolute and more militant in organising, educating and mobilising its ranks, and links its struggles and movements with the peoples’ movements in different countries and the world anti-imperialist movement.

We call on the young generation of rural women to link arms with us and the toiling women all over the world, to collectively march towards our liberation.

Rights, Empowerment and Liberation!

Women of the world unite! Fight back imperialist globalisation, militarism and fundamentalism!

Reference: Sarojeni Rengam and Marjo Busto, Secretariat, arwc-secretariat@asianruralwomen.net

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*The ARWC is facilitated by the Steering Committee (SC) body composed of 10 member groups of national formations/alliances and regional organisations working on rural women’s issues. The SC members include national alliances: Tamil Nadu Women’s Forum (TNWF) and Society for Rural Education and Development (SRED) in India; Tenaganita in Malaysia; Human Development Organization (HDO) in Sri Lanka; INNABUYOG and GABRIELA National Alliance of Women’s Organization in the Philippines; and the All Nepal Women’s Alliance (ANWA) in Nepal. Regional networks include Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW), and Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PANAP).