La Via Campesina Solidarity Statement with UAWC

La Via Campesina’s Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) dedicates itself daily to the full realization of Palestinian peasants’ rights. They have done this wholeheartedly since the mid-1980s, and they’ll continue to do so with the steadfast support and solidarity of sister organizations, friends and allies, both in Palestine and abroad. As a testament to their selfless commitment to Food Sovereignty rooted in peasants’ rights, our beloved UAWC also coordinates La Via Campesina’s regional articulation process of peasant movements across the Arab Region and North Africa (ArNa). For these reasons, and many more, La Via Campesina stands proud with UAWC and its membership – peasants and fisher folk, rural women and youth, the seed saving elders, the pastoralists – throughout occupied Palestine.

Unfortunately, UAWC is now being subjected to a smear campaign orchestrated by a right wing law firm and extremist Israeli “non-governmental organizations” (though some are closely affiliated with the Israeli government) to pressure its partners in order to suffocate it financially. Without any creativity at all, the same old organizations with extreme right-wing colors reproduce outdated and baseless accusations that have been proven false over and over again in an attempt to undermine the credibility of UAWC among its partners.

We, La Via Campesina, the international peasant movement made up of 182 organizations and 200 million members, reaffirm our solemn and unequivocal support for UAWC, and testify before world public opinion and the international community of the importance of UAWC’s work and the baseless nature of the Israeli accusations.

UAWC has been facing vicious incitement attacks by right-wing Israeli entities, mainly the so-called NGO Monitor and UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI). Simply put, these entities issue baseless attacks aimed at undermining UAWC’s success while UAWC works tirelessly for the full realization of peasants’ rights. Ours is a deep-rooted organization established in 1986 and founded on humanitarian and voluntary principles. It is a leading member who works at the grassroots level defending Palestinian peasants’ rights and the struggle in defense of Food Sovereignty for Palestinians and for all nations. As noted above, UAWC is not only one of the most active organizations in Palestine, but also spearheads the struggle for food sovereignty and peasant rights in the Arab region and North Africa (ArNa). Through its work in and across rural Palestine, UAWC has made extremely valuable and life-changing contributions to the lives of thousands of smallholder peasants, fishers, herders and agricultural workers.

In response to UAWC success, the aforementioned Israeli entities have launched a sustained and brutal incitement campaign based on false accusations towards UAWC and trying to put into doubt its political independence. Their extreme right mentality tends to twist any form of UAWC’s peaceful and rightful agricultural support to Palestinian peasants, especially those in area “C”, into a reason to extend the severity of their incitement. Such defaming campaigns started several years ago and their viciousness has increased for two reasons; first the acceleration of the Israeli occupation’s plans of land grabbing and annexation, second UAWC’s presence and impact on ground.

More recently, NGO Monitor and UKLFI have pressured the Dutch government to stop its funding of UAWC grassroots efforts. Despite the fact that UAWC has proven to be religiously and politically independent and serves peasants on ethical bases of human and peasants’ rights, their pressure campaign resulted in a recent Dutch government decision to suspend its support to UAWC until an external review on the organization is performed. The allegations utilized were empty accusations about UAWC’s political independence, an independence that has  been proven by numerous previous external reviews and audits. This is why our colleagues at UAWC have shown nothing but confidence and complete openness to cooperating with the Dutch government decision.

It is worth noting that these Israeli entities are  strong supporters of illegal annexation plans for Palestinian lands and that NGO Monitor also fights against Israeli civil society NGO’s that defend human rights and stand against illegal settlements.[1] It is also ironic and nothing but hypocritical that these Israeli extremist institutions lead the attack campaigns using unfounded allegations and ignoring  the proven and documented severe torture against a former UAWC employee, as was reported by Amnesty International[2].

We consider these campaigns of harassment against UAWC to be part of the violent political repression carried out by the Israeli government in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, of which Palestinian peasants have become a blatant example through the monopolization of natural resources and the annexation of land. The targeting of Palestinian civil society organizations is a “witch hunt” orchestrated by the occupation administration to neutralize any form of peaceful organization of the Palestinian people.

We call on the entirety of UAWC’s friends and allies, including the donor community, not to bend to the baseless pressure campaigns and to continue their longstanding support for the work being done on behalf of Palestinian peasants’ rights. We also call upon all human rights defenders to stand firm against such defaming and defunding campaigns. We call once again for effective international solidarity with the Palestinian peasants and Palestinian people.

La Via Campesina

We feed our peoples and build the movement to change the world