#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

International Solidarity Statement

We, as members of the international community from Asia and the Pacific, Africa, Latin America, Europe and the continental United States, convened by Pesticide Action Network, are gathered in Hawai`i in January 2016 to stand in solidarity with the movements in Hawai`i working to free the islands from the toxic influence of pesticide/genetic engineering (GE) corporations.

Hawai`i is ground zero for the development, experimental use and production of pesticide-promoting genetically engineered crops. Five chemical corporations – Syngenta, Monsanto, Dow, DuPont/Pioneer and BASF – facilitated by the government of Hawai`i – occupy tens of thousands of acres of the most fertile agricultural land, including public land which should rightfully be in the hands of the K?naka Maoli (Hawaiian nationals). According to state law, water in Hawai`i is part of the public trust and cannot be privatized. Yet these corporations divert and contaminate this most precious and important common resource, leaving quality agricultural lands and key habitats without a source of water.

These land and water grabs are resulting in severe damage to the ecology of Hawai`i, and place the burden of health and environmental costs onto local communities, with no accountability for – or compensation from – the agrochemical industry.

These corporations are holding Hawai`i’s people hostage. Successful democratic processes on seven of the eight Hawaiian islands resulted in policies requiring disclosure of pesticide use, a moratorium on the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) until health and environmental effects are evaluated, and pesticide-free buffer zones around sensitive sites like schools and hospitals. Now the chemical corporations have sued all of the counties that passed such policies, stopping their implementation – for the time being.

We can look at Hawai`i to see the nature of these companies and their products: parts of the archipelago are sprayed as much as 250 days per year, or seven out of ten days year round. Many local doctors and nurses have submitted official testimony stating concern that they may be witnessing higher rates of asthma, hormonal diseases, rare cancers, miscarriages, birth defects, and skin disorders in communities living adjacent to experimental fields. Companies have fought even basic notification rules so that families and schools are unable to protect their children from regular chemical exposure.

Workers and their families are most impacted. Just two days ago, ten Syngenta agricultural workers were poisoned by Dow’s product chlorpyrifos and sent to the hospital on Kaua’i. Agricultural workers around the world face similar dangers of acute poisonings and chronic long-term exposure. Similar to other plantations around the world, many of those working on agrochemical operations in Hawai`i are migrants that have themselves been directly displaced by corporate agribusiness.

Photo Credit: Paul Towers

Photo Credit: Paul Towers

Let’s be clear: none of the crops these corporations are growing feed people in Hawai`i; Hawai`i imports more than 90% of its food. The seeds grown in Hawai`i feed primarily factory farms and fuel cars. They are the foundation of the fossil-fuel and resource intensive, polluting, and climate-devastating industrial agricultural system. As has been acknowledged by the most prestigious international bodies, feeding the world sustainably requires a dramatic transformation away from this system.

That these corporations will act so boldly and rashly in the endangered species capitol of the world portends great threat to the rest of our global ecology and humanity. The fight to end the overuse of chemical pesticides and their increasing promotion through genetic engineering begins in Hawai`i, and extends around the world.

In Africa, these technologies are being pushed by the same corporations that are engineering hunger and working to control and patent staple food crops. In Asia, the debt engendered by these chemical corporations and their expensive, patented technologies, has driven rural crises, including an increase in farmer suicides. In the last ten years we have seen a heightened and very aggressive attempt to transform the landscape of ecologically sound food-producing land to genetically modified crops. Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay have become the “transgenic soybean republic,” with devastating health impacts from the associated rise of pesticide use. In Mexico, birthplace of maize, there is strong resistance to genetic theft and GMO maize. In the continental United States – where around half of the farmland is planted GE crops — farmers are facing fewer market options, higher input costs, superweeds, and damage to surrounding crops and ecosystems, while too many rural families face cancer, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease.

We link our struggles to the struggles of the people of Hawai`i. We pledge our commitment to stand together and organize our communities to protect our homes, our children, and our shared planet. The agrochemical industry is global and so is our collective fight.

Together, we will work towards:

  1. Advancing sustainable agriculture as a holistic, scientific approach and a movement for social transformation that upholds local knowledge and respects indigenous cultures, integrates participatory research, empowerment of women, farmer control over land, water, seeds and forests, protection of workers’ rights and of rural communities, appropriate technology, bio-diversity conservation, access to and equitable distribution of food, equitable sharing of benefits and food self-sufficiency respecting ecological integrity.
  2. Contributing actively to the elimination of harmful pesticides and other agrochemicals and the generation, innovation and promotion of ecological alternatives to pesticide use, especially organic and ecological agriculture with biological, agricultural and cultural diversity as the basis for sustainable communities.
  3. Eliminating the use of harmful pesticides in buildings, transporation, household, public health and other non-agricultural pest control areas.
  4. Fighting for local, national and international agreements to restrict, reduce and eliminate pesticide dependence and to phase out and ban pesticides that cause acute and chronic effects, including endocrine disruption and cancer.
  5. Ensuring food for all, including national policies that promote and ensure the right to food in order to achieve the improvement of human and environmental health. And establishing Food Sovereignty as the inalienable right of peoples, communities, and countries to define, decide and implement their own agricultural, labour, fishing, food and land policies which are ecologically, socially, economically and culturally appropriate to their unique circumstances.
  6. Creating awareness of the dangers of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and campaigning to stop the development and use of GMOs in food, agriculture, pharmaceutical crops and animals, forestry and prevent terminator seeds. We demand the implementation of the precautionary principle to prevent the spread of the use of GMOs.
  7. Withdrawal of subsidies for environmentally-unsound agricultural technologies and end all aid by international development agencies for hazardous pesticides, GMOs and industrial agriculture promotion.
  8. Strengthening people’s movements and empowering women, peasants, poor farmers, fisherfolk, dalits, landless farmworkers, Indigenous people, migrant workers and bonded laborers to participate fully in asserting and promoting their rights, decision making in their societies and access to land, resources and knowledge.
  9. Strengthening and integrating gender issues in all agriculture programmes from planning to implementation and evaluation.
  10. Empowering communities to monitor and resist the impact of trade policies, technologies, and industries that affect their health and livelihoods. Launching and supporting campaigns against corporate globalization and the international institutions and instruments that are destroying people’s production and promoting corporate and industrial agriculture.
  11. Achieving the public release of information by all companies, governments and institutions on production, use and trade of pesticides and GMOs. Demand full accountability and liability for injustices by corporations and governments and full compensation for damages for persons, communities and countries.

To find out more about the situation and struggle in Hawaii:

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7n4YG66iio

Hawaii Center for Food Safety, Report: Pesticides in Paradise
http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/reports/3901/pesticides-in-paradise-hawaiis-health-and-environment-at-risk#

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/aug/23/hawaii-birth-defects-pesticides-gmo

Residents’ lawsuit against DuPont/Pioneer: http://www.stoppoisoningparadise.org/#!video—pesticides-on-kauai/c1vm3

Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A): http://www.hapahi.org/pesticides-gmos/

Hawaii SEED: http://www.hawaiiseed.org/

The Shaka Movement: http://www.mauigmomoratoriumnews.org/

Molokai Mom (video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7D4DB5LSBQ

#NoLandNoLife | 140 anti-land grab activists, farmers killed in less than three months: Alarm raised over killings in Ethiopia

Press Release

15 January 2016

PENANG, Malaysia – Regional advocacy group PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) raised alarm over the current state of human rights in Ethiopia. According to a report by Human Rights Watch, 140 protesters have been allegedly killed in a crackdown against land grab protesters since November 2015.

Photo by: bbc.com

The victims are said to be opposing the “Addis Ababa master plan” where thousands of farmers are at risk to bedisplaced. The protesters are calling for the cancellation of the said project.

PANAP said that such magnitude of political killings in less than three months is shocking and deplorable, to say the least. It called for a thorough and credible investigation of the alleged killings and make those responsible behind the atrocities to account for their crimes. It also said that it is wise for the government to suspend the contentious project to avoid the further escalation of the conflict.

The group added that if the number of reported killings in Ethiopia is true, it will easily eclipse the total number of killings related to land struggles and conflicts that PANAP has monitored for the entire 2015 – 61 victims of political killings in 14 countries.

All in all, PANAP has monitored over 4,000 victims of human rights violations in the context of land and resources grabbing through its Land & Rights Watch (LR Watch). L&R Watch is an initiative under the No Land, No Life! campaign initiated by PANAP and its partners in the region to regularly monitor and report human rights abuses against communities opposing land and resource grabbing.

The Penang-based group asserted that the people’s rights to land and resources should be respected and upheld at all times and should never be compromised or undermined by so-called development programs and projects. ###

Reference: Sarojeni Rengam, nolandnolife@panap.net

For Land and Life: 16 Days of Global Action

Today, rural women from 20 countries across the globe are taking a strong and united stand against the unprecedented scale of land and resource grabbing in the world. For the next 16 days, in what we call the 16 Days of Global Action, rural women under the slogan “No Land, No Life!” will rise to educate, mobilise and engage their communities, schools, governments, and the general public. Through their collective power and creativity, rural women’s groups will assert the need for land to the landless, food sovereignty, biodiverse ecological agriculture, reclamation of traditional seeds and knowledge, and women’s rights.

Started in 29th March this year at the declaration of the Day of the Landless by PANAP, ARWC (Asian Rural Women’s Coalition), APC (Asian Peasants’ Coalition) and partner groups, the campaign No Land, No Life: March for Life! Fight for Rights, Land and Resources! is a response to the deeply felt effects of intensified land and resource grabbing on small-scale farmers and food producers, including women. After the world food crisis seven years ago, the monopoly control of landlords and big corporations over huge tracts of land has tightened more than ever through the neoliberal restructuring of agriculture. Genuine land reform remains an unrealised dream for the millions of farmers who toil under increasingly exploitative and hazardous conditions, while losing control over food production. Globally, food production—which depends on the ownership of land and resources—has become alarmingly unsustainable, as land and resources are utilised by a handful of individuals or corporations only as a means to achieve superprofits.

For rural women, land and resources mean life. Without it, they have no community, they have no livelihood, they have no culture and identity. Without it, they cannot even feed themselves and their own families. Rural women are seed savers and land tillers, community leaders and family managers. They are indispensable to food security and to society. However, they are virtually fighting for survival today, as land, seeds, water and other productive resources are being taken away.

Land and resource grabbing is an unmistakably growing threat. According to the Land Matrix website, around 1,067 land deals covering more than 38.9 million hectares have been concluded worldwide since 2000. Most of the agricultural lands involved are in Africa, Asia and Latin America with investors mainly from the US and Europe.[1] It is a re-colonisation of the world, except that it is being made acceptable by neoliberal policies implemented through various international and national instruments.

It is a re-colonisation that is marked by human rights violations and violence against men and women. Extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, and even mass evacuations have become more common in rural areas where there are conflicts arising from land and resource grabbing—such as in Southern Philippines, where the indigenous Lumad are being killed for defending their ancestral lands from the encroachment of mostly foreign mining companies. Just last week, social activist Medha Patkar and 10 others were arrested in the Allahabad district in Uttar Pradesh for protesting over the Indian government’s proposed thermal power plant, which has displaced nearly 2,000 farmers from over 500 hectares of land.

The need for rural women to speak up on the threats to their land and life bore life to the 16 Days of Global Action on Rural Women. For the past months, PAN Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP) together with about 75 of its network partners, have been raising public awareness on the rural women’s six demands, namely: (1) land to the landless; (2) genuine agrarian reform; (3) biodiverse ecological agriculture; (4) reclaiming of traditional seeds and knowledge; (5) women’s rights; and (6) food sovereignty. These demands are both timely and timeless. They arose from a meticulous process of collecting their experiences, struggles, and aspirations across the region—through a journal that passed from woman to woman, through speak-outs, public assemblies and fora, lobbying, and marches and protest actions.

For it is the same threats of land and resource grabbing that have encouraged rural women to stand up and assert their rights as women and as members of the affected communities. They do so by defending their lands against encroachers, setting up community seed banks and collectively-owned ecological farms, among others.

For the next 16 days, they will thus bring their struggles for land reform and food sovereignty to policymakers, opinion makers, and the general public through various awareness raising activities. An active online campaign utilising social media and using the hashtags #NoLandNoLife #RuralWomenRiseUp will also be launched. All these will culminate with mass actions on October 15, World Rural Women’s Day, and October 16, the World “Foodless” Day.

Through these activities, rural women will call for justice for their sisters and brothers who have fallen victim to countless human rights violations resulting from land and resource grabbing. For it is the everyday life-or-death struggles for land that gave birth and strengthened the resolve of rural women across the globe to fight for their future – one that is intricately intertwined with the future of food production that serves the interest of the great majority instead of the profits of the few. As we are imperiled by fast dwindling resources and poisoned land, the need for rural women and other marginalised rural sectors to fight back remains urgent, necessary and just more than ever.

No Land, No Life!

Women, Assert Our Rights to Land and Resources!

*The 16 Days of Global Action on Rural Women is a global campaign to highlight and support the struggles, leadership and victories of rural women as they continue to assert and reclaim their rights to land and resources. From October 1-16, more than 70 organisations and movements in 20 countries are holding various activities to forward the rural women’s agenda and demands.

Reference:  Marjo Busto, Programme Coordinator, PANAP (marjo.busto@panap.net)

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[1] Data from http://landmatrix.org/en/ as accessed on 29 September 2015

 

16 Days of Global Action on Rural Women Launched

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – At a farmers’ picket-protest against land grabbing in Rodriguez, Rizal, PANAP in coordination with AMIHAN Philippines (National Federation of Peasant Women) launched yesterday the 16 Days of Global Action on Rural Women (#16Days4RuralWMN).

“This is a global campaign to highlight rural women’s struggles, victories and leadership in their assertion to defend food sovereignty and their rights to land and resources. From October 1 to 16, various women’s groups in at least 15 countries will hold simultaneous activities which will culminate on October 15 and 16, International Rural Women’s Day and World Food (Less) Day respectively,” stated Marjo Busto, Coordinator of Women in Agriculture Programme of PANAP.

AMIHAN is a PANAP partner participating in the #16Days4RuralWMN campaign. At the picket-protest, women farmer leaders gave fiery speeches opposing quarrying and land grabbing in the municipality of Rodriguez in the province of Rizal.

Zenaida Soriano, AMIHAN Chairperson, said “We are firmly opposed to big landlords grabbing the lands we have been tilling for generations. We fight against quarrying which only benefits big business but is hazardous to the environment and our health. We demand decent housing, livelihoods, and genuine agrarian reform.” AMIHAN held a nation-wide protest activity yesterday, highlighting farmers’ local issues and demands such as the enactment of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB).

A woman farmer leader from Ilocos Norte (province in northern Philippines), Elizabeth Alfiler expressed solidarity with fellow women farmers in the picket-protest: “Like you I am a woman farmer, a wife, a mother, and an activist. To women farmers like us, land is life. Without land we cannot feed our families, we cannot send our children to school. I am one with you in opposing land grabbing and demanding for genuine agrarian reform.” Alfiler is also a journal writer in the Women’s Travelling Journal (WTJ) for Food Sovereignty, a collection of personal stories written by 50 rural women in 6 countries portraying the realities of their struggles on land and other resources. The WTJ was also launched yesterday as part of the campaign #16Days4RuralWMN.

“With this campaign we hope that rural women’s voices are heard by policymakers and governments and that rural women’s demands to stop land and resource grabbing and to uphold women’s rights are met,” emphasized Marjo Busto. “From now until October 1 to 16, we enjoin women’s groups and advocates to support us in this campaign,” she added.

The #16Days4RuralWMN is being done under PANAP’s banner campaign “No Land, No Life!”— a year-long campaign which aims to highlight land and resource grabbing as human rights issues, raise greater awareness on and generate broader support for ongoing local cases of land and resource grabbing at the international level, and coordinate and reinforce the various national campaigns against land and resource grabbing.

Reference: Marjo Busto, Programme Coordinator, PANAP (16daysofaction@panap.net)