Statement from La Via Campesina in support to the women from Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil)

(Curitiba, March 22nd 2006) We, peasants from the international movement La Vía Campesina, wish to express our indignation before the violent police action of search and seizure, which was carried out on March 21st, in the National and State Operational Secretariat of the Association of Peasant Women in Passo Fundo  (Rio Grande do Sul state – Brazil). This violent action by the Civil Police of Camaquã and police agents from Barra do Ribeiro and Passo Fundo is another example of physical and psychological aggression against women rural workers – who have been historically the main victims of the system.

The action started around 2:00PM, when police officers carrying guns and without identifying themselves, broke the lock of the gate and entered the actual space of the association, threatening women and children with guns. Only after the action, a mandate just for the inspection of the state Association was produced. Police agents took computers, information material of the association, documents, money, check books, among other things. Women were warranted for questioning in the same evening, which was concluded only in the following morning.

The police was searching for supposed evidences in connection with the action carried out by 2,000 Via Campesina women against monocultures, on March 8th.

It was a clear violation of human rights, with no regard to the fact that there were children and women in the place, who had denied even the right to contact a lawyer. No country, under any circumstance can allow such practices, since they are a serious attempt against human dignity.

We denounce the abuse of power and authority of the police, who continue using the legal apparatus, to carry out illegal action methods. There is no doubt, that this is another example of the criminalization of social movements which peasants all over the world have been suffering.

For all that, La Via Campesina states that it will continue the struggle in defence of natural resources, for land, water, seeds, forests, life and for the protection, care and improvement of biological and cultural diversity.

Information : Igor Felippe Santos + 41 84119769
                     Solange Engelmann + 41 84119794