Int’l groups demand to stop farmers killings, attacks on Human Rights Day

An international movement of grassroots groups of small food producers and food sovereignty advocates called to stop farmers killings on Dec. 10, International Human Rights Day (IHRD).

The People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) is highlighting farmers killings and attacks against rural peoples and rights defenders in its ‘global day of action’ to commemorate the occasion. The theme is ‘Stop Killing Farmers! End Impunity Now!’

“All over the world, rural peoples have become the primary targets of killings, illegal arrests, and harassments for opposing mines, plantations, and other foreign investment megaprojects that grab peoples’ lands and resources and trample over their rights,” said Sylvia Mallari, PCFS global co-chairperson.

According to the 2017 report of Human Rights Defenders (HRD) Memorial Network, about two out of every three human rights defenders killed are related to resistance against megaprojects in the extractives industry or funded by big businesses. Meanwhile, independent watchdog group Global Witness recorded 60 percent of the killings of land and environmental defenders in 2017 were in Latin America. Brazil tops the list with 57 killed, followed by the Philippines – the deadliest country in Asia – with 48.

Mallari said the trend continues and escalates because of impunity.More often than not, corporations get away with their abuses because state forces back them up.

“To these we demand accountability. By headlining the martyrs who gave their lives in the struggle for land and life we raise the attention to impunity as we demand justice for their killings. At the same time, we honor them for their contributions in realizing peoples’ food sovereignty,” she added.

According to the PCFS official, among these are the ‘Sagay 9’ sugar workers massacred in the Philippines in October and Berta Caceres, internationally distinguished Honduran activist and indigenous Lenca leader who was killed in March 2016 for leading the campaign against Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam.

Members and networks of the coalition will be holding actions today, promoting their ongoing national and regional struggles against land and resource grabbing.

PHILIPPINES: Various sectors marched to Mendiola in city capital Manila to call for justice and respect for human rights. (Photos from PCFS, League of Filipino Students)

In the Philippines, PCFS member organization Peasant Movement of the Philippines (KMP) joined the national protest against the rising dictatorship of President Rodrigo Duterte, which is taking place in different provinces all over the country. KMP is also demanding justice for the death of peasant leader and political prisoner Alex Arias, who had a heart attack in jail on the eve of IHRD. Arias was jailed in 2012 for trumped up charges of murder.

CAMBODIA: Farmers, indigenous peoples, and civil society groups including PCFS member CCFC and network organization Cambodia Youth Network (CYN) march against landgrabbing and human rights violation. (Photos from CCFC, CYN).

In Cambodia, thousands of farmers from six provinces led by the Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Communities (CCFC), also a member of PCFS, commemorated the IHRD with the theme “Redefine a Better Basic Rights Together.” CCFC also joins nine other organizations in staging a protest action in Phnom Penh with over 1,000 participants.

“Let us globally amplify the voices of the rural peoples against impunity and fascism, demanding justice for the killings and attacks while we continue to resist the corporatization of agriculture and food systems,” Mallari said.  ###

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