Representatives of civil society and social movements walked out of the plenary session at the first day of the 28th Food and Agriculture Organization Regional Ministerial Conference in Jakarta as they were denied the right to speak. This is a clear breach of commitment by the FAO Director General Jacques Diouf and the Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific Changchui He that the voices of civil society would be heard in the ongoing regional conference. This commitment was made by the heads of the FAO in a dialogue with the civil society on May 17.
Jill Carino, an indigenous person from the Cordillera People’s Alliance and a member of the International Planning Committee (IPC Asia) and Henry Saragih, general coordinator of the international peasant movement La Via Campesina waited for the whole day to present to the Ministers the recommendations of the social movements coming from their own consultations regarding the agenda of the ongoing FAO regional meeting. These consultations are officially agreed upon since 2002 as part of the dialogue between the FAO and the civil society and social movements.
Members of IPC Asia and La Via Campesina from different parts of Asia who gathered in Jakarta for this event expressed their indignation against the FAO Conference for silencing the voices from the grassroots. It is ironic that the FAO that was established to reduce hunger and poverty refuses to work with the people they profess to serve.
“It is disgusting that the FAO denied the indigenous people, peasants and fisherfolks and agricultural workers the chance to speak even though we are the ones most affected by world hunger”, said Carino.
It is the first time in the history of the FAO Regional Conferences that the space given to civil society has been taken away. The civil society and social movements will assess the significance of this event.
“Nevertheless, we will continue our struggle until the FAO and our governments recognise our fundamental right to people’s food sovereignty” Saragih said.
Indra Lubis (La Via Campesina) – +6281 6319 5550
Gilbert Sape (IPC Asia) +6281 80633 9085
May 18, 2006