The People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) joins the farmers, farm workers, indigenous peoples, small-scale food producers, and the peoples of the world in marking the second International Day of the Landless. We unite with the International League of People’s Struggle or ILPS and the Asian Peasant Coalition or APC in the call: Fight for land! Fight for life! Intensify the struggle against global land grabbing!
We hail all grassroots organizations of farmers, farm workers, indigenous peoples, and small-scale food producers, as well as their advocates in various countries who are holding various forms of collective action on this day to assert the theme and their local, sectoral and national calls.
For this year’s International Day of the Landless, we at PCFS reiterate the calls for land for the farmers, farm workers, indigenous peoples and small-scale food producers of the world, for an end to killings, militarism and repression aimed at food sovereignty activists, and for the junking of mega-trade deals which monopoly-capitalists are trying to foist on the world.
The demand for land and genuine land reform is the most fundamental demand of the farmers, farm workers, indigenous peoples and small-scale food producers. It is estimated that a quarter of the world’s 1.1 billion poor are landless, according to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The demand is a call for an end to exploitation in the hands of big landlords and big local and foreign capitalists, for food sovereignty, and for genuine national development.
The demand also expresses opposition to the widespread landgrabbing in the world led by the US, European Union, and Japan on the one hand and China and Russia on the other. The 2016 Land Matrix states that almost 30 million hectares of land have been acquired by foreign investors since 2000 for food crops, oil palm, agrifuels, among others, while 9 million hectares more are under negotiaton. This means the displacement of farmers, indigenous peoples and other small-scale food producers. This also means grabbing water resources away from communities.
Landgrabbing and feudal and semi-feudal exploitation have always been backed by militarism and repression aimed at farmers, farm workers, indigenous peoples, and other small-scale food producers. In 2002-2015, Global Witness reports that there have been 1,209 killings of land and environmental activists worldwide, with the average getting worse from 55 per year in 2002-2009 to 128 in 2010-2015. PAN Asia Pacific, on the other hand, reports that there have been 4,685 cases of human rights violations related to land conflicts globally, which include displacements, killings and frustrated killings, arbitrary arrest and detention, filing of trumped-up charges, threats and harassment, and enforced disappearances.
Landgrabbing and the overall denial of lands to farmers, farm workers, indigenous peoples and small-scale food producers are bound to be worsened by mega-trade deals being pushed by advanced capitalist countries – the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or RCEP and the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement or TPPA which may still be revived despite Donald Trump’s withdrawal. These deals will further concentrate lands in the hands of big landlords and local and foreign capitalists in order to meet the demands of the world market.
We are calling on the farmers, farm workers, indigenous peoples and all peoples of the world to intensify the struggle for land and against landgrabbing, killings, militarism and repression, and free-trade agreements. As the global economic crisis deepens, as fascism intensifies and continues to gain strength in the world, we need to intensify our
struggles to defend our basic rights and advance our interests for food sovereignty and genuine development.