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Letter to the national governments

17 April 2002

Via Campesina is mobilizing together with other social movements on the 17th of April to achieve a number of concrete demands in the year 2002. These demands will also be made at the FAO Summit “Rome+5” and the World Summit on Sustainable Development “Rio+10”.
The Vía Campesina believes that without full respect for the lives and the liberty of our farmers as well as the protection of natural resources against the take-over by private companies no true progress is possible. Regarding productive resources: Access to and control over land, seed, water, credit and other productive resources have to be guaranteed for all farmers, both men and women, in order to enable them to produce sufficient and adequate food in a sustainable and socially just way, respecting the available natural resources. This includes the defense of community rights on genetic resources and a ban on Patents and other Intellectual Property Rights on living organisms, a ban on the use of GMOs in agriculture and food production, the implementation of genuine agrarian reform programs, equitable markets with just prices, an end to food “dumping” and respect for the principles of peoples’ foodsovereignty.

Via Campesina has the following concrete demands to be realized in 2002:
1) A total ban on “Terminator Technologies” (the production of sterile seeds) and other Genetic Use Restriction Technologies (GURTs) that control the traits in plants and animals,
2) A full investigation led by FAO of the transgenetic contamination of international gene banks and the genetic contamination of Centres of Diversity and concrete measures to avoid this contamination,
3) Concrete steps towards a total abolition of patents on living organisms on the national and international levels. The FAO must forbid CGIAR centers to apply for patents on any genetic resources or their parts and components and the FAO Summit must call upon national governments to ban patents on genetic resources.

We expect these concrete commitments to be agreed internationally at the CBD’s 6th Conference of parties in The Hague in April, at the FAO World Food Summit: five years’ later in Rome in June and at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg in August/September 2002.

Regarding the repression against farm leaders: Many farm leaders and members of farm organizations (men and women) are suffering repression or are serving time in prison, others have been assassinated only because they defended their economic and social, legitimate rights. Via Campesina demands this 17th of April the immediate release release of farmers that are in prison, stop to repression and the punishment of the authors of the crimes against men, women and children of the rural areas.

We demand the immediate release of the following people: In the Philippines: Manolito Matricio (former member of KMP national council) Ruben Balaguer, Gelito Bautista, Eduardo Hermoso, Mario Tobias and Joshua Ungsod. En Brasil: 3 members of MST from the State of Sao Paulo: Daniel da Costa Albuquerque, Jose Carlos Pio y Miguel Serpa da Luz. In Indonesia: Rais bin Amsar, Yusup bin Marsa, Asgari bin Arwa, Sarhadi bin Wari, Samsyuri bin Usma, Usri bin Karsi, Jamali, Warta bin Alias, Ahmad Nurjali (all members of Banten Peasant Union – an organization member of FSPI). They are all in prison in the Cibaliung village, Cibaliung sub-district, Pandeglang Regency, Banten Province,
Following people are threatened by police and imprisonment In Bangladesh: Laskar Mohammad Khalilur Rahman and Dactar Md. Kabir (Bangladesh Krishok Federation) have to go to court and are threatened with emprisonement. Rahima Begum and Sipra Rani (two women leaders of Bangladesh Kishani Sabha) are harassed by the police every day.

The following people have been sentenced to serve time in jail. We demand that the charges and sentences be removed: In France: José Bové, René Riesel, Bernard Moser, Christian Brousse-(all of the Confédération Paysanne). Also condemned Eric Leblanc (ATTAC) and Jean Beaufort (teacher).

Following people are released from jail but are still under threat of being sentenced: En Bolivia: Silvia Lazarte (Lider nacional de la organizacion Bartolina Sisa), Margarita Terán, Seider Emilio V.CH, Eugenio Abendano H., Lidio Julián Gomez, Ambrocio Amador,
We expect the authors of crimes committed to be punished: In Brazil: The trial of the massacre of Carajas (17-4-1996) has still not taken place. We request that the case will be dealt with at the Federal Court to assure that the authors of this crime are punished. En Colombia: The Massacre of 38 farmers of the Hacienda Bellacruz (1996). On the 25th of April will be the trial where some of the authors will be judged. We demand the extradition to Colombia of the landowner and ex-ambassador of Colombia towards the European Union CARLOS A. MARULANDA, at the moment detained in Madrid, who is responsible for this case. The Massacre of Santo Domingo in the department of Arauca on the 13th of December 1998 by the Colombian airforces. This bombing caused the death of 19 persons, among them 7 children. We demand investigation and punishment of the intellectual and material authors of the massacres, murders and forced disappearances of peasants and indigenous people. Para-military groups committed 171 massacres between June 2000-junio 2001.

Via Campesina together with other social movements launches these demands at the occasion of the 17th of April 2002. We expect national governments to move on these important issues and show their political will to come to positive changes regarding the democratic rights of our organizations and farmers’ rights to food production and access to productive resources.

We will follow national governments on the national and the international level in order to judge their level of commitment.

The International Coordinating Committee of Via Campesina
Rafael Alegria (International Operative Secretariat) Maria del Carmen Barroso (ANAP) Egidio Brunetto (MST) Alberto Gomez (UNORCA) Rosalva Gutierrez (BAPO-ASOCODE) Marcella Harris (WINFA) Prof Nanjunda Swamy (KRRS) Hege Nerland (CPE) Paul Nicholson (CPE) Francisca Rodriguez (Anamuri) Henry Saragih (FSPI) Nettie Wiebe (NFU-Canada) Krupa Yelagi (KRRS)

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17 April 2002
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