Thiès Declaration: In solidarity with young peasants around the world

We, the youth of La Via Campesina, gathered in Thiès, Senegal, from 25-28 April, express our solidarity with the peasant youth of all those peoples who are being attacked by capitalism, imperial power, agribusiness and transnationals, and particularly with the youth of Palestine, Morocco, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Venezuela and Mozambique.

In Palestine, the criminal Zionist entity continues its attacks against the people of Palestine with impunity, killing, displacing and imprisoning civilians in the face of the indifference of the international community and in support of imperialist powers. The army and the colonists are killing young peasants in cold blood. Our thoughts are with Mohamed Majed Hadayed, whose cowardly murder took place as he worked his land in Rafah, on the Gaza strip, on 13 April 2019. Through him, we remember all the young Palestinians who have lost their lives, been displaced from their lands, or grow weak in Israeli prisons. Our hearts are with this youth, a youth who never fail to impress us with its heroic resistance to oppression and love for its land.

In Morocco, the rural youth, who have long since been marginalised and disregarded, captured the world’s attention by leading the Hirak Rif popular movement for two years, demanding social justice and recognition of their economic rights. The Moroccan government has responded to these legitimate demands with severe repression, imprisoning hundreds of young protestors with sentences of up to 20 years in prison. This is also the case in other regions of Morocco, including Jerada, Zagora, Kelaat Seraghna, Imider and others. We demand the immediate release of young people from social movements who have been detained and of all Moroccan political prisoners.

In Sri Lanka, extremist groups attacked Catholic churches and hotels, killing 256 people and injuring hundreds more. The government is using this difficult time to pursue their own electoral intentions and is trying to control social movements through the use of an antiterrorism law which allows for stricter surveillance and repression on all forms of protest. This libertarian effort comes at a time when the Sri Lankan youth is taking to the streets to protect free public education. The government is also using this law to manage trade union and peasant movements. We condemn the terrorist attack and offer our condolences to the families of the victims. We also denounce the opportunistic attempts of the government to use this awful situation to silence the Sri Lankan youth.

In Colombia, militia groups from the Duque government are killing peasants, people of colour, indigenous people, Africans and leaders. This year, hundreds have been killed on the land, many of whom were young people defending the land used to produce food. We as La Vía Campesina condemn these acts. We demand that the United Nations (UN) and other international institutions condemn the events occurring in Colombia and insist that the Duque government complies with peace agreements.
We express our solidarity with the Venezuelan people: heroic people, who are resisting the onslaught of the imperialist right of the United States. We condemn all action and attempts to destabilise and delegitimise a government which serves the working and peasant classes of Venezuela and we unite with the country’s Bolivarian youth, who fight every day to defend their land and sovereignty.

In Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, and more recently in Tanzania, the effects of climate change are increasingly visible and extreme. This has a huge impact on local peasant communities in both rural areas and in cities. Cyclones Idai and Kenneth, which hit in April, have devastated the peasant lands of our peoples and their youth. Amid difficult struggles for the rights of young men and women, for their present and future access to land, education, fair and sustainable salaries, food and nutritional security, and more generally food sovereignty, the impact of these climate catastrophes is only made worse by the poor response of their governments. The exploitation of women in the context of catastrophe management is unacceptable. The corruption and incompetence of government officials must be denounced, and the culprits held responsible and punished by law.

For all these reasons, we call upon the youth to continue its action, to go out onto the streets and keep defending our land and to continue producing food for us and the people.