Via Campesina releases its second annual report on Violation of Peasants rights during the 61st session of the United Nations Human Rights Commission
(Geneva) La Via Campesina addresses to the public in Geneva at the occasion of the 61st session of the United Nations Human Rights Commission to highlight the gravity of the problems according to the human rights violations that peasants are facing world wide. Since 2004 Via Campesina is releasing an annual report on violations of peasant’s rights in different parts of the world highlighting important cases and typical forms of violations on peasants’ human rights.
Via Campesina is starting today its side event on the Human Rights Commission documenting the enormous problems that the catastrophe of the Tsunami has caused to those who were already suffering in the affected countries from the ill effects of misdirected development policies, neglecting the interests and needs of peasants and other marginalized groups of society. The rehabilitation and reconstruction should uphold the principle of food sovereignty, ensuring the delivery of safe and healthy food, free of GMOs, produced locally rather than imported and matching local cultural and social tastes and preferences. The rehabilitation work is often contributing or leading to human rights violations of peasants including fisher folk in coastal regions, coastal communities without rights to land and access to coastal resources and peasants evicted from their traditional lands. The reconstruction often leads to land market oriented programs and most of the victims of such violations are particularly poor people, women and children.
This new report of violations of peasants’ rights contains grave cases in Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Philippines, and South Africa. Peasants struggling for their rights to land and access to resources and other economic, social and cultural rights are facing at the same time an alarming amount of political prosecution, personal harassment and assassinations. The report documents cases from all these countries where peasants are facing forcible evictions from their lands and situations in which their right of access to productive resources is neglected. At the same time it presents cases of violations of civil and political human rights. The landless people’s movement from Brazil, MST, a member of Via Campesina, is for example reporting that in the Brazilian state of Para, 759 rural workers and trade union leaders were killed during the last few years. Several cases from Indonesia show how big and powerful economic actors such as transnational corporations are illegally evicting peasants from their communal lands. In one of the cases in South Sulawesi 6 peasants were killed, 27 injured and many more arrested last year. Pacho, a Colombian peasant leader, is in jail in Bolivia, accused of being a terrorist and drug dealer.
The growing worldwide movement of peasants, the Via Campesina, therefore demands new international legal instruments to recognize the human rights of peasants. Via Campesina is promoting the development of an International Convention on the Rights of Peasants, which should cover the obligations of national and international actors. It should also address the negative consequences of liberalization and neoliberal policies imposed on peasants by the international institutions. For example in the case of India, thousands of peasants have committed suicide as a consequence of these policies. It’s important to highlight agrarian reform and access to land and other productive resources for peasants worldwide. Via Campesina demands the release of the peasant leaders from the jail immediately.