(Harare, April 17, 2017) Today La Via Campesina, the international peasant movement, commemorates the International Day of Peasants’ Struggle with a focus on strengthening, protecting and recognizing the human rights of peasants. The initiative towards a United Nations (UN) Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas is one of the ways to legitimatize our struggles to build and reinforce food sovereignty where by our social, cultural, economic and political values are fully respected and upheld. We believe that in championing the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas, humanity also wins.
Hundreds of millions of peasants are forced to live and lead undignified lives as their basic rights are increasingly very vulnerable as a result of capitalist and neoliberal logic of profit maximisation. Our rights to land, water, seeds, biodiversity, decent income are continuously being compromised, denied, violated and usurped. We, the Peasants, despite producing the bulk of the food consumed globally, continue to face criminalisation and discrimination.
We, the peasants, women, youth, men, and indigenous peoples, however, continue to build our struggles globally to defend our rights against corporate interests, persecution and violence against peasants and other people working in rural areas. We struggle for a genuine agrarian reform and a better protection of rights to land against land-grabbing; we continue to conserve, use, and exchange our seeds – denouncing laws and interests that seek to prohibit such practises; we promote agroecology, traditional practices and knowledge to combat climate change; we continue the struggle to end corporate control of our food and reject free trade agreements; and we keep on building gender equality and move forward for the rights of peasant women, youth, migrants and other people working in rural areas.
Next month in May, the 4th session of UN Open Ended Intergovernmental Working Group will be held to finalize the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas. Our collective struggles will pressure governments and other parties to support and commit to a strong UN declaration. We believe that the UN declaration will be crucial to solve malnutrition, hunger, poverty, and climate crisis.
Join us today by organising demonstrations, public debates and discussions, film screenings, farmers’ markets, festivals, lobbying governments, or any other solidarity actions. We are calling to all people’s movements, women, youth, indigenous, fisher folk, migrants, workers, environmentalists, to support this movement. Share your actions by sending to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can capture and circulate them on our MAP of actions.
Diego Montón (ES) +54 9 261 561 5062
Elizabeth Mpofu (EN) +263 772 443 716
Geneviève (FR) +33 6 25 55 16 87
 On April 17th 1996, in the Amazonian state of Pará, at Eldorado dos Carajás, the state military police massacred peasants organized in the Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST), killing 19 individuals and injuring 69. That day, 1500 women and men organized in the MST occupied and blocked the BR-150 highway in Eldorado dos Carajás, with the aim of bringing pressure to bear on the State and Federal governments to implement agrarian reform. State authorities, the police, the army and powerful local landowners were involved in the planning and executing of the massacre.