Europe must support the rights of peasants - Denouncing the multiple attacks on La Via Campesina members

Press release

(Brussels, 15 October 2012) In September 2012 all European Union governments with a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council voted against a specific protection mechanism for the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas. In a single week, several new attacks, threats and assassinations of La Via Campesina representatives have cropped up. It is high time for the EU to recognize the specific vulnerability of peasants and other people working in rural areas as well as the growing aggression directed at them.

Everywhere in the world, men and women peasants and smallholder farmers who struggle to maintain their communities and hang onto their land find themselves the victims of repression and criminalization at the hand of ruling elites and economic interests.

Rafael Alegría, a Honduran peasant and member of the International Coordination Committee of La Via Campesina, was informed by the Honduran security minister that an attack on him was being organized. The seriousness of these threats is highlighted by the assassinations of Manuel Eduardo Díaz Mazariegos, the human rights public prosecutor, on 24 September 2012, and of Antonio Trejo, a lawyer defending several farming communities, on September 2012.

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La Via Campesina condemns the murder of landless activist Abdul Karim in Bangladesh

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La Via Campesina strongly denounces the murder of Abdul Karim, a leader of the Bangladesh Krishok Federation (Bangladesh Peasants Federation) who was brutally killed by a man named Addur Rahim. The killer was patronized by local elite and powerful groups who had vested interest in a stretch of abandoned railway land that had been occupied by hundreds of landless men and women in 2004. Karim bhai as he was lovingly called, had led this movement of landless peasants to occupy this land to farm and live in dignity. Karim bhai was 63 years old.

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Honduras: International organisations condemn the murder of a peasants’ human rights lawyer and defender from the lower Aguan and of the special prosecutor for human rights

International Statement

October 1, 2012

The undersigned organizations condemn the murder of the lawyer and peasants’ human rights defender, Antonio Trejo; and of the special prosecutor for human rights of the department of Choluteca, Eduardo Diaz Mazariegos.

On the night of Saturday September 22, 2012, the legal representative of the Movimiento Auténtico Reivindicador del Aguán- MARCA (Authentic Peasant Reclamation Movement of Aguan), Antonio Trejo (41 years old) was shot near the Toncontin airport, in Tegucigalpa.

Trejo represented peasant cooperatives of the Lower Aguan region, members of MARCA in their struggle for access to land in order to fulfill their right to food and housing, among other rights. After 18 years of litigation, Trejo achieved that the Civil Trial Court of Francisco Morazán and the District Trial Court of Trujillo ruled that the acquisition by the businessmen Miguel Facussé and René Morales of the states of San Isidro, La Trinidad and El Despertar -with a total area of 1,776 hectares- was illegal and restitute the right to land to the peasants.

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Victory in hard-fought struggle in defense of the human rights of peasants

UN resolution hints at a new international instrument to  promote and protect  the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas

The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a landmark resolution hinting at a new instrument for the rights of the world’s estimated 1.2 billion peasants and other people working in rural areas. The resolution (A/HRC/21/L23) is monumental in light of peasants’ key role for food production—and also in the wake of contemporary challenges such as growing conflicts over land, water, and also food prices and climate crises.

The UN Human Rights Council resolution was approved on September 27, after 23 Member States voted in favour, 15 abstained and nine voted against the text[1].

The resolution is based on the report of the Advisory Committee of the UN Human Rights Council entitled “Final study of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee on the advancement of the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas” (A/HRC/19/75). This study was adopted by this body on the right to food in the 19th session of UN Human Rights Council (March 2012). In this session, the resolution on the right to food was adopted by consensus.

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