Philippines, Colombia, and Brazil remain the most dangerous places for farmers and land reform advocates
JOINT PRESS RELEASE // 21 June 2018 // Reference: Roy Anunciacion | secretariat.foodsov.org
International peasant groups Peoples Coalition for Food Sovereignty (PCFS) and Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) expressed their indignation of the recent and continuing spate of political killings of farmers and land reform activists in developing nations, especially in the Philippines, Colombia, and Brazil. The poor farmer networks also reiterate their call for justice for the victims, holding governments accountable for the gross culture of impunity and their failure to address land reform and social justice as the root causes of the conflicts.
In a watchdog report last year, almost 200 farmers and land related advocates – four in a week – were killed extrajudicially, most of which came from the said three countries, with the Philippines registering 41 victims.
“Right now, the Philippines is set to break that already high record. There had been 21 farmers killed among 132 political killings and we haven’t even reached the half of the year. What’s alarming is the rate it’s accelerating – seven farmers were murdered just this month alone,” exclaimed Zenaida Soriano, APC vice chairperson and national chairperson of Amihan, a mass organization and federation of rural women in the Philippines.
Dubbed as “deadly June,”’ Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP; Peasant Movement of the Philippines) reported that “the numbers are adding up” and “not a single perpetrator was caught and made accountable in the unending string of crimes against farmers.”
Most recent of the reported killings include Nestor Dagatan Sacote, an indigenous farmer from Baganga, Davao Oriental – 78th victim from the Davao region – and farmers Catalino Decipeda and Florencio Cufo who were shot dead at their farm in Batangas.
“What’s more outrageous is that what’s happening in the Philippines isn’t an isolated phenomenon. In Asia, we are seeing a rise in violent state sponsored attacks against farmers and advocates like what’s happening in Indonesia,” Soriano added.
Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (AGRA; Alliance for Genuine Agrarian Reform) reported earlier this year the violent evictions in the Kolun Progo Community, and the 900 peasant families and villagers of Bebidas Village, East Lombok, Nusa Tenggara Barat.
Bloody Brazil, Colombia
“Across the globe, farmers are asserting their rights to land and food. But majority of developing countries’ governments vilify this and even meet it with brutal force. This is especially true in the South Americas,” Roy Anunciacion, global secretariat coordinator of the PCFS, added.
The Latin America Carribean region was also pointed out by the report as the bloodiest region for agrarian reform advocates, with Brazil and Columbia leading with 46 and 32 deaths respectively.
“Farmers in land occupation areas, where farmers are reclaiming their right through their own calloused hands, are most vulnerable and usual victims of this egregious string of killings,” Anunciacion said.
On March 4, 38-year-old peasant Joacir Fran Alves da Mota was shot dead in Pau D’Arco, southeast of Pará. He was part of the Jane Júlia Camp located on the lands reclaimed from Santa Lucia farm. The reclamation was led by the Liga de Campesinos Pobres (LCP; League of the Rural Poor). The murder of Joacir da Mota is the 13th death in the struggle for possessing the lands of the farm Saint Lucia.
April 15, quilombola leader Nazildo dos Santos Brito was found dead in his residence at the Roda D’Água, near Para. He was the president of the Association of Residents and Quilombola Remnant Farmers of Alta Acará. Brito had received death threats prior for denouncing environmental crimes committed by landowners in the region.
On May 12, a peasant, supporter of the Enilson Ribeiro Revolutionary Area of the LCP, was kidnapped. This, only after about 10 families were attacked and tortured by heavily armed gunmen in the municipality of São João do Araguaia, southeast of Pará, on the afternoon of May 4.These farmers were active members of Frente Nacional de Luta Campo e Cidade (FNL).
In Columbia, peasant leader Belisario Benavidez Ordóñez, 35, was killed by two strangers after leaving home, accompanied by his three-year-old son and a 12-year-old nephew in El Patía while the peasant leader María Magdalena Cruz Rojas was murdered in the Mapiripan. It is estimated that at least 30 farmer leaders were killed this year alone, a huge chunk in the 160 death toll of activists and social leaders in the country.
“Instead of tackling the root causes of these conflicts – landlessness and absence of social justice, these governments time and time again side with the landgrabbers and unleash its brutal onslaught to the struggling farmers. But as LCP puts it, ‘el terror no se detendrá la lucha por la tierra’ [Terror will not stop the fight for land].”
“We call on all our organizations and networks to condemn the continuing attack on the lives of the farmers and land reform advocates and stand with the farmers in their struggle for genuine agrarian reform and social justice!” Anunciacion said ###
- “Deadly June: Seven farmers killed this month” News Release, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas. 6/19/18
- “Supporting the struggle of Peasants and the Broad People of Jurang Koak, Bebidas Village against the violent and expulsion of National Park of Gunung Rinjani (Taman Nasional Gunung Rinjani-TNGR) through a joint operation by the Military (TNI) and Police (POLRI) Forces” Joint Statement, AGRA, 01/09/18