News bulletin 2

Via Campesina Tsunami Relief and Reconstruction Fund
WEEKLY NEWS BULLETIN No. 2, January 12, 2005
Via Campesina – the global alliance of peasant, family farmer, farm worker, indigenous, landless peoples and women’s organizations, and other rural movements – calls for solidarity with the millions of people affected by the tsunami disaster and is launching a global fundraising campaign to channel assistance to affected communities of fisherfolk and peasants, for our own relief and reconstruction efforts, through our grassroots member organizations ( ) and our sister organizations of fisherfolk. The Via Campesina Tsunami Relief and Reconstruction Fund is collecting funds for direct emergency support to our own communities to provide basic needs of food, clean drinking water, shelter and health care to our fisherfolk and peasant communities affected by the tsunamis, as well as to help initiate the long term work of reconstructing our communities and rebuilding our livelihoods. DETAILS ON FUNDS COLLECTED AND HOW THEY ARE DISTRIBUTED CAN BE FOUND BELOW.

   To make a secure, on-line donation using your credit card: click here
   For instructions on other ways to give: click here
Campaign contact: Nico Verhagen, Via Campesina,


PART I: Reports from Via Campesina member and friend organizations
1. Thailand: Fisherfolk Support Teams in 6 Southern Provinces of Thailand 2. Indonesia: KSKBA Calls for International Support and Denounces GMO Food Aid from Mainstream Donors 3. Sri Lanka: A Second Tsunami of Corporate Globalization and Militarization? 4. Sri Lanka: MONLAR Peasant Organization, a Member of Via Campesina, Calls for Alternative Approaches 5. Indonesia: Protest at Aid Summit Disbanded by Police 6. India: Reflections from the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF)
PART II: About this Campaign
1. Solidarity Campaigns in Turkey and the USA 2. A Message from the National Farmers Union of Canada 3. How We Distribute Funds 4. What We Have Raised So Far


PART I: Reports from Via Campesina member and friend organizations 1. Thailand: Fisherfolk Support Teams in 6 Southern Provinces of Thailand
The tsunami hit the southern part of Thailand in 6 provinces, Phu-ket, Phang-nga, Ra-nong, Kra-bi,Trang and Sa-tul. This is a really hard time for the 418 poor fisherfolk villages in these provinces as the Tsunami has taken away their life, husbands, wives, children, cousins, houses, boats, fishing gear, and most important, their hope and human dignity.

Two days after the Tsunami hit, the Federation of Southern Fisherfolk, which is part of Assembly of the Poor and Via Campesina, together with 30 other civil society groups, NGOs, and academics in the South, North, West, Northeast, and Central have formed themselves the Coalition/Network for Andaman Coastal Community Support, to immediately help these fisherfolk communities in their own relief and reconstruction efforts. The network has sent relief teams to most of the fishing villages for the last 9 days.

So far our network and the Federation of Southern Fisherfolk has surveyed 186 fishing villages. We have found 272 members dead, 26 missing, and 99 injured, so far. Members lost 2,477 small fishing boats, 15,534 fishing nets (kra-chang), 2,448 crab fishing gear, 939 shrimp fishing gear, 3,277 fish fishing gear, 21,245 small crab fishing nets (Sai-Poo), 915 small fishing nets, 8,271 squid fishing nets, and 292 floats. We have 232 more villages to survey. This still excludes Nam-Kem and Kao-lak villages, and PiPi Island, which are still very difficult to reach. We estimate 4,900 people dead and 6,000 still missing in this area.

In the most critical areas, the network has sent teams to help with temporary camps and house construction, health care services, maternal and child care, and to help give hope and moral support to lift spirits. With some families who are in better condition, the teams have started to support boat repairing, engine repair, and are providing new fishing gear. For the next phase, we will help re-build their fishing communities. In the long term, the communities will work on their local organizations for community and coastal resource recovery. The heart of our efforts is to build up and support local fisherfolk groups as the key actors in their long term recovery. Our volunteers and work teams now need a lot of support. The immediate urgent needs are for temporary house construction, boat repair and buying fishing gear to help fisherfolk survive and recover their lives again.
[Contact: Pontip Samranjit, Assembly of the Poor,,]

2. Indonesia: KSKBA Calls for International Support and Denounces GMO Food Aid from Mainstream Donors
KSKBA is the Humanitarian Solidarity Team for the Tsunami Disaster in Aceh & North Sumatra Provinces, Indonesia, and includes the Indonesian Federation of Peasant Movements (FSPI) among its members. Beside the emergency work we reported on the last issue of this report, see
KSKBA has now developed a one year work plan. Part of the strategic agenda we have developed with other alliances is:

1. In our relief and reconstruction efforts in Aceh and North Sumatra, we will not collaborate with the international organizations and the transnational corporations that push the neoliberal policies which impoverish Indonesia.
2. We will work with the affected people not only from the angle of emergency aid but we also focus on helping to recover and strengthen local peoples organizations for the long term, based on the local people’s strong spirit. In our humanitarian aid mission, KSKBA acts as a coalition of people’s organizations from the fisherfolk, peasant, labor, urban poor, youth and NGO sectors, created to support local grassroots organizations in the affected areas.
3. We want to clarify that KSKBA is a group of organizations that supports the principles of struggle of Via Campesina, and is moved by the spirit of struggle and leadership of Via Campesina ( KSKBA is confronting the neoliberal paradigm and organizing relief based the principals of food sovereignty ( and we are anti-GMO, pro-agrarian reform, etc.
4. Thus we are critical of the World Bank aid package which pushes more neoliberal reforms, and we are against GMO-food aid from the World Food Program (WFP) and other donors. We say do not send international food aid which depresses Indonesian crop prices and hurts peasants, but rather buy food for aid inside our country and support Indonesian peasants. To the NGO’s like Save the Children that are distributing the free rice without specifying it’s origin, we say you should adjust your aid policies along the lines of food sovereignty.
5. KSKBA is in the front line of struggle of Via Campesina internationally, and we ask for the strong political support of other Via Campesina members and supporters in the future. We propose that December 26th (the day of the tsunamis) in the future commemorated internationally as a special day for Via Campesina.

[Contact: Irma Yanny, FSPI, ]

3. Sri Lanka: A Second Tsunami of Corporate Globalization and Militarization?
Here the situation is a bit tense as US Marines, and Indian, Pakistani and Canadian troops are already here. The Bush administration has clearly mentioned that the situation in our region is considered to threat to them. We are worried that an eventual American occupation could give us more devastation than the Tsunami.

President Chandrika Bandaranaike has appointed a special task force to rebuild Sri Lanka, filled with top class investors representing the business community. There are no civil servants or civil society representation at any level. The World Band is to play a very vital role in rebuilding Sri Lanka. President Chandrika said that they are not going allow affected fisher communities to rebuild houses within 300 meters of the coast for protection against future Tsunamis, but we doubt this is the real reason. We believe this is actually part of an accelerated Tourism master plan to get poor people out of tourism development zones.

They are also bringing high-tech fishing here from Canada. I do not know what type of fishing they are promoting. A fleet of 2000 fishing boats from Canada will arrive. We see this as the plan of action amidst the tsunamis crisis to hand over the sea and the coast to foreign corporations and tourism, with military assistance from the US Marines. If any one goes against the plan they will be in jail, according to the president. At the same time this will jeopardize the whole process of peace-building during the last 3 years.

We who represent the national alliance for protection of national resources and human rights met yesterday and discussed this thoroughly. We will have a conference on how we see the rebuilding of Sri Lanka and the alternatives. This situation must be shared with our members as we, our country, fisheries and poor will be the victims of the present development plans. This could wind up being a bigger destruction than the tsunamis. We would like to raise this point with the international community. How do you see this situation, and can you help the victimized people rid ourselves of the second tsunami of the accelerated process of corporate globalization and militarization? Meanwhile we urgently need financial donations to support the rebuilding efforts of our affected fishing communities.

Meanwhile, we are working hard on our releif and reconstruction mission. In the last few days we have:
We sent volunteer groups from non-affected areas to Ampara, Galle, Kaluthara, to clear wells, roads and damaged houses. We sent a team from Negombo to repair damaged boats at Galle. We are trying to provide clean water to affected people, and we are clearing wells and trying to get water tanks to refugee camps. We are starting a mobile health service for injured people in Ampara District. We are setting up boat repairing at Galle and Mathara, and hope to spread it island wide. We are providing food and cooking gear to affected people, including earthen pots, cooking pots, plates, knives, and coconut scrapers, as well as bed sheets, pillows and mats.
[Contact: Herman Kumara, NAFSO,]

4. Sri Lanka: MONLAR Peasant Organization, a Member of Via Campesina, Calls for Alternative Approaches
The official "rebuilding" could be a much bigger disaster for the poor and working people in Sri Lanka than the Tsunami itself. We feel there should be a very wide process of understanding these possibilities and responding in solidarity among all progressive international forces.
We MONLAR and ANRHR (Alliance for Protection of National Resources and Human Rights) will closely monitor this process and keep all people’s organizations inside the country and internationally informed, so that an adequate response is built within and outside the country. We have worked on alternative approaches and policies for reduction of poverty and pro-people economic development for more than ten years, and these alternatives are still very valid and workable. They are not based on large international capital, but rather on peoples initiative and resources. We appeal to all groups in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka and other people affected in other countries to join in building such a response, the only way to prevent a new disaster. We await for your quick response.
[Contact: Sarath Fernando MONLAR, ]

5. Indonesia: Protest at Aid Summit Disbanded by Police
On January 5th the Anti-Imperialist Humanitarian Coalition held a protest rally outside the multi-government summit on the Tsunami disaster, which was broken up by the police and military. The Coalition consists of Koalisi Anti Utang (KAU), the Federation of Indonesian Peasant Unions (FSPI) – a member of Via Campesina -, the student movement in Jakarta, and some Jakarta NGOs. The coalition is demanding: (i) that the Indonesian government not use the Tsunami disaster as the pretext to acquire new loans and more foreign debt or make more political concessions; (ii) to make debt cancellation the priority of the Tsunami summit, not just debt relief or debt moratorium, which would allow the government to fulfill its obligation to develop or rehabilitate the devastated regions and achieve people’s sovereignty; (iii) to cancel the plan for hikes in fuel prices and for the selling off of more public sector assets through the privatization program; (iv) to clean the government of ideological and policy infiltration by the international financial institutions like the IMF, World Bank, ADB and WTO; as well as other demands.

6. India: Reflections from the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF)
The post-tsunami period has seen many relief and rehabilitation initiatives and there is now some reflection on longer-term rehabilitation issues. It is important to share some of the views being discussed here in India, and perhaps to develop a shared understanding of rehab issues from a small-scale fisheries perspective in all countries affected by the tsunami- Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Malaysia in particular.
The tsunami has reinforced (in a dramatic way) the need to address the long-standing vulnerability that our communities are exposed to on a daily basis. It is essential to address issues such as:

(a) Securing land rights for communities, while retaining their primary use rights of coastal spaces for fishing (to ensure that these spaces are not taken over by tourism and other commercial interests).
(b) A focus on developing social infrastructure: appropriate housing, sanitation, education, health, etc., which will also contribute towards providing livelihood options to communities, other than fishing.
(c) The replacement and/or repair of traditional boats, motors and gear affected during the tsunami on an urgent basis.
(d) The post-tsunami phase should provide an opportunity to review forms of fisheries development which were economically/ecologically problematic in the first place, for example, trawling and pushnetting. There are offers of aid from abroad in the form of boats, gear and motors. These offers need to be carefully evaluated to see if such technology is appropriate for local conditions and does not create local overcapacity/overfishing.
(e) The same for aquaculture. Where, even in the pre-tsunami phase there were concerns about the ecological, social and economic impact of industrial forms of coastal aquaculture, the post-tsunami phase should offer the opportunity prioritize instead the need for coastal mangrove shelterbelts.
(f) Rehab in the post-harvest sector should focus on improving traditional processing techniques and providing appropriate infrastructure for the same, and to improve marketing infrastructure. Processing and marketing are both areas in which women are more active. There is a need to ensure that aid money does not go towards developing expensive cold chain infrastructure, which will benefit only a wealthy minority.
(g) Rehab measures should also help towards developing appropriate social security measures (health, accident and old age) for men and women of local fishing communities as well as increased coverage for them of life insurance/insurance of vessels and motors. There is a need also for fishery disaster insurance schemes for artesanal fishers that will cover loss of life and property as a result of natural disasters.

These are some of the issues being discussed here. It would be most useful to have feedback on the debate on rehab in other countries.
[Contact Chandrika, ICSF

PART II. About this Campaign
1. Solidarity Campaigns in Turkey and the USA
In Turkey people are planning a solidarity fundraising campaign for FSPI and Via Campesina tsunami relief. It will last for 2-3 weeks, with a concert as final. The initiators are peace campaigners and progressive musicians. [Contact: F. Levent Sensever, "Lewo" ].
In the USA, the Pacific Bakery ( ) is planning a publicity campaign to let people know about the Via Campesina Tsunami Fund. [Contact: Chuck Lowery, ]

2. A Message from the National Farmers Union of Canada
To the Asian Via Campesina members:
The National Farmers Union in Canada extends its sympathy and solidarity to you in this time of tragedy. We know that you are dealing with terrible losses of lives, communities, property and livelihoods. The incredible grief and destruction which this Tsunami leaves in its wake demands a response of solidarity from people everywhere. We, in the National Farmers Union, are joining in efforts to help through the Via Campesina. We recognize the need for the immediate emergency assistance as well as longer term resources for reconstruction. We want to assure you that we are committed to supporting your work of aiding and rebuilding in the aftermath of this disaster.
[Contact: Nettie Wiebe, NFU ]

3. How We Distribute Funds As Via Campesina ( we have a number of member organizations in the region that are active in relief work and will be part of the reconstruction process. These include, for example, the Indonesian National Peasant Federation (FSPI), MONLAR in Sri Lanka, the Assembly of the Poor in Thailand, and others. We are also working closely with two fisherfolk organizations that are members of the World Forum of Fisherfolk People (WFFP), with whom we have been collaborating for several years in different spaces at the international level. These are NAFSO in Sri Lanka and NFF in India. At the moment, as we are in an emergency situation we are distributing the funds that come in equally among 4 countries. At the moment the first transfers have been made, in India to the NFF, in Thailand to the Assembly of the Poor (one of their members is the Federation of Southern Fisherfolk), in Sri Lanka to NAFSO, and in Indonesia to FSPI. This may change over time as we move from emergency relief to reconstruction, and if we add more countries (i.e. Malaysia, Burma, etc….) and organizations.

4. What We Have Raised So Far
The fundraising campaign began on 12/30, and as of 1/10 we had about USD $43,000 in 413 credit card donations coming from the United States, France, Norway, Thailand, Belgium, Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Great Britain, Spain, El Salvador, Italy, South Korea, Denmark, and Ecuador. The smallest credit card gift was USD $5, and the largest was $2,500, while the average donation was USD $104. In addition we have received a number of checks in the mail and wire transfers in totalling some USD $8,000 more. We URGENTLY need to boost these amounts, so please give generously and circulate this information widely.
To make a secure, on-line donation using your credit card: For instructions on other ways to give (checks, money orders, wire transfers):
For more information, refer to: Campaign contact: Nico Verhagen, Via Campesina,