Serikat Petani Indonesia marks the International Day of Peasant Struggles with several actions

JAKARTA. The Indonesian Peasants’ Union (Serikat Petani Indonesia – SPI) carried out a series of activities to commemorate the International Peasant Struggle Day 17 April 2022.

The Central Executive Board (DPP) of SPI carried out a simultaneous planting action on the land (17/04).

Marlan Ifantri Lase, Head of the Department of Education, Arts, and Culture of DPP SPI said that this event was prioritized to be attended by young peasants who were members of SPI spread throughout Indonesia.

The event was held successfully and and was attended by young SPI peasants from various regions .

“We will continue this youth consolidation, the spirit must be maintained because the future of agriculture and food sovereignty rests on the shoulders of young peasants,” he added.

From West Java Province, Indonesia, The Branch Management Board (DPC) of SPI of Sukabumi Regency, held a peasants consolidation in Jampangtengah sub-district (17/04).

The chairman of the SPI Sukabumi Rozak Daud, said that this 17 April moment was used to consolidate the organization for strengthening the Sukabumi SPI members.

“Especially in three locations that are being prioritized for resolving agrarian conflicts, namely in Jampangtengah, Lengkong and Pasirdatar Caringin sub-districts,” he said.

Rozak explained that the total members of SPI are around 3600 farmers in the three sub-districts.

“We are consolidating, formulating a strategy to strengthen the SPI struggle,” he concluded.

Afterwards, SPI had an international webinar about International Day of Peasant Struggles on 21st April, drawing attention to the threat posed to food sovereignty by free trade agreements.

In his opening remark, Henry Saragih, Chairman of SPI remembered the events that led to to the declaration of the International Day of Peasant Struggles. “La Via Campesina was holding its 2nd International conference in Txacala, Mexico in 1996. At that conference, agrarian reform was a central topic of discussion as it resonated with the needs and demands of peasants from all countries. The conference also analysed the growing clout of WTO in pushing free trade agreements around the world, and the then emerging issue of Genetically Modified Organisms. It was also the year when the World Food Summit was also being held in Rome. Thus, in the midst of these events, there was a massacre of 19 peasants in Brazil who died while defending their land. This massacre was ironically carried out by state officials. Since 1996, we have commemorated it as the day of the international peasant struggle, until now”

“The birth of the WTO also created a wider crisis, not only for peasants but also for the environment. The world has not become better and has not become fairer since the arrival of the WTO. Poverty and hunger has only spread; We know that the WTO in Indonesia has succeeded in influencing the Indonesian government to make a job creation law, and abolish the provisions regarding food imports which are regulated in the Food Law and the Farmer Protection and Empowerment Act. Thankfully, our struggle through judicial review has succeeded in canceling the Job Creation Act.”, he added.

Henry also brought the attention to the upcoming Ministerial meeting of the WTO. “At the international level, regional trade agreements are the tools to promote free trade. In June 2022, the WTO will hold a ministerial meeting in Geneva. We as peasants, will continue to fight and oppose the Ministerial meeting being held. This meeting, we will discuss the specifics of regional trade practices in Southeast Asia, in which Indonesia is involved. Which is supported and encouraged by the WTO,”

The webinar featured several speakers such as Zainal Arifin Fuad (SPI), Rahmat Maulana Sidik (IGJ), Anni Mitin (Panggau, Malaysia). and Joseph Purugganan (Focus on The Global South, Philippines).