Brussels, 18 December 2019 – One year on from the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Peasant and other people working in rural areas (UNDROP) in New York, ECVC received the tragic news of the death of a farmer in Ukraine during clashes with the police, during a protest to protect peasant rights against the government’s plan to liberalize land. ECVC denounces this news and reiterates the need to implement the UNDROP throughout and beyond Europe, in order to protect the rights of peasants.
Yesterday, Ukrainian peasants took to the streets of Kiev to oppose a new land liberalization bill and claim their rights. Statements from the Association of Farmers and Private Landowners, part of the Ukrainian Rural Development Network, the National media and eyewitnesses report that during the clashes, a young peasant was brutally beaten by the police, before being rushed to hospital, where he later died from his injuries. Other protesters were also injured as police reacted violently to the demonstrations, using tear gas against the protestors. The new land liberalization bill threatens to violate the right to land for more than 6 million peasants, to the benefit of agroholdings, domestic oligarchs and multinational corporations. This in turn threatens the right to a healthy environment and as well as the concept of food sovereignty, all of which were recognized in the adoption of the declaration last year. This is a tragic example of the continued violation of the rights of peasants, which, one year on from its adoption, demonstrates the work left to be done on the implantation the UNDROP.
As things stand, peasant agriculture continues to be discriminated against at all levels in Europe, where it is seen as a burden from the past, instead of being rightfully recognized as a pillar of strength in European culture. The European Commission’s recent Green Deal proposal, (which includes the Farm to Fork strategy that finally links safe and healthy food for consumers to agricultural systems and promotes agroecology), is certainly heartening, but it is not enough. ECVC expects the Commission and all European States to implement the Declaration on the Rights of Farmers in all relevant policies. This multi-level approach is vital and urgent, both in order to prevent similar tragedies and fatalities occurring, as well as to build and strengthen peasants and small-scale farmers and ensure their human rights are respected.
The end of 2019 has been marked by numerous popular uprisings in defense of human rights, from Madrid to Santiago de Chile, from Beirut to Hong Kong. This defense of human rights includes the right to sustainable and accessible food production for all, in which small-scale farmers and peasants play a vital role. In order to cope with the current social and environmental crises and the increasing number of conflicts, it is urgent to protect those excluded from the society and to strengthen peasant systems which are the main source of food and at the same time offer the greatest solution for greenhouse gas mitigation.
Jose-Miguel Pacheco, a member of ECVC’s Coordination Committee, says: “ECVC expresses its solidarity with the Ukrainian peasants on this issue and offers its condolences to the family and friends of this man. For the peasants and citizens, protesting against the decisions taken by the government and claiming peasant rights must never lead to death. Europe needs to recognise this urgent tragedy, because no peasant or farmer should die defending their human rights.”
Peasants feed the world population and their rights are human rights! There are institutional tools at our disposal to prevent this from happening. ECVC demands that the declaration be implemented on a national and European level, in order to safeguard the future of peasants, agriculture and our planet.
Watch ECVC’s new video on the Peasants Rights Declaration, with subtitles in English, French and Spanish: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79iv4bFNZS0
Ramona Duminicioiu – ECVC Coordination Committee: +40 746 337 022 – FR, ES, EN, RO
Jose-Miguel Pacheco – ECVC Coordination Committee: +351 918736441 – ES, PT