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: https://www.panap.net/campaigns/land-food-rights/noland-nolife/post/2821#sthash.Zrn1b5R8.dpuf

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