February 23, 2023 | Bagnolet, France: La Via Campesina has received the disturbing news regarding the arrest of Ko Chang-geon, Secretary General of the Korean Peasant League (KPL), a member of La Via Campesina in South Korea.
Ko Chang-geon and the KPL have been at the forefront of the struggle against neoliberalism and the World Trade Organization (WTO), leading the fight for food sovereignty, for guaranteed agricultural prices and consistently standing against anti-democratic forces and neoliberal trade agreements such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
The detention of Ko Chang-geon aims to suppress and crush KPL’s struggle against the inhumane and anti-democratic policies of the Yun Seok-ryul government. This arrest is aimed at intimidating those who lead our fight to defend the peasants’ right to live with dignity. Ko Chang-geon was detained on February 21, 2023, on suspicion of violating the National Security Law. This law is often used to suppress freedom of thought, including socialism, and has been recommended for repeal by several international institutions such as the UN and other human rights organizations.
La Via Campesina, along with Korean peasants, laborers, rural workers, and other social movements, demands the immediate release of Ko Chang-geon and strongly rejects the repression of peasant movement leaders. We call for the guarantee of their right to political and intellectual freedom.
We remind the Government of South Korea of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP). Article 8 of this declaration states that peasants and other people working in rural areas have the right to freedom of thought, belief, conscience, opinion, expression, and peaceful assembly. Article 9 grants peasants the right to form and join organizations, trade unions, cooperatives, or any other association of their own choosing for the protection of their interests and to bargain collectively, free from interference, coercion, or repression.
As a global peasant movement and as the voice of more than 200 million peasants, indigenous peoples, migrants, farm workers, small-scale food producers, and rural workers, La Via Campesina strongly condemns this action against Ko Chang-geon. We also support the abolition of the National Security Law, which suppresses the political and intellectual freedoms of peasants, and the struggle of the South Korean people for this.
La Via Campesina will always stand with the struggle of the peasants and fight for the liberation of the world’s peasants hand in hand.
Release General Secretary Ko Chang-geon for his work in defense of peasants’ rights to live!
Stop the criminalization and repression of the peasant movement!
Protect peasants’ rights, uphold the UNDROP!