The People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) joined the three-day ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (ACSC/APF) September 10-12 at Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand with the theme “Advancing Peoples’ Movements for Justice, Peace, Equality, Sustainability and Democracy in Southeast Asia.”
The APF is a confluence of civil society organizations and people’s organizations within the ASEAN banner that represents the people themselves. Within the program are several plenaries and Convergence Spaces in which several priority issues are discussed by the delegates to come up with resolutions as bases of the APF statement to be presented to the ASEAN Summit.
PCFS—with its member-organizations Asian Peasant Coalition (APC), Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community (CCFC) and the Southern Peasants Federation of Thailand (SPFT) — participated in the Convergence Spaces on Corporate Power and on Human Rights. Theng Saveoun, CCFC President represented PCFS-Asia as a speaker in the workshop for investments on the corporate takeover. Saveoun talked on the Kuy indigenous peoples against landgrabbing of Hengfu, a Chinese sugar company, in Preah Vihear province in Cambodia. He highlighted the confiscation of backhoes, lobbying, filing of court cases against Hengfu, and setting up of protest camp to resist clearing operations of the company
Junaid Ahmed of APC cited in the same workshop examples of victories of the peasantry in land occupation campaigns as a concrete action to defend their lands and organic farming as an effort to resist TNC control in agriculture in the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia. He also shared the ongoing struggle against golden rice and other GM crops in the Philippines, Bangladesh, and Indonesia.
Two women farmers from SPFT, also a member-organization of PCFS, attended and spoke at the Convergence Space on Human Rights. They shared that while the APF is running, there is an ongoing protest-camp of more than 300 farmers in from of the United Nations office in Bangkok to hold dialogue with the national government to demand their right to the land they have occupied, and the pull-out of armed state forces from their communities that have been causing intimidation to the communities. PCFS Global Coordinator led the group from Manipur, Philippines, and West Papua, and express solidarity among the SPFT members in a visit to the camp.
With the Filipino delegates during the last day of the plenary on September 12, PCFS expressed its support by partaking in the flash mobilization to call for immediate implementation of the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution to conduct an independent probe on the situation of human rights in the Philippines. Several international delegations were also enjoined to the call to stop the killings of farmers and human rights defenders.
Saveoun of PCFS-Asia also submitted the statement of MEKONG SOLIDARITY to the Regional Organizing Committee (ROC) of the APF. The statement contains the signatures of a multitude of local, national, regional, and global formations, organizations and networks against the intrusion of Chinese investment in the Mekong sub-region through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC).
PCFS hopes that the APF adopt into its statement to the ASEAN Summit the genuine concerns to uphold people’s sovereignty and human rights while abandoning the neoliberal strategy the local elites, TNCs, and international financial institutions have dictated the ASEAN region to take and holding accountable governments and the private sector to their commitment and actions by ensuring that civil society have meaningful participation in decision-making.
Before the APF, on September 9, PCFS attended the People Over Profit (POP) Network Strategy Meeting to share its ongoing campaign against transnational agribusiness corporations and land grabbing. The POP Network has lead campaigns against the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership in the past years. Consecutively, PCFS also participated in the Regional Training of Trainers on Advocacy and Engagement by the Asia Pacific Research Network on September 13-14. ###