Monday, December 10, 2012

LVC rejects the commercialization of biodiversity at the UN CBD COP 11 in Hyderabad

LVC and the Karnataka State farmers movement (KRRS) participated at the Convention on Biodiversity COP 11 in Hyderabad in October 2012. LVC has rejected the CBDs ability to conserve biodiversity but rather asserts that it will increase bio-piracy. LVC also participated in the peoples biodiversity festival, a parallel encounter of the indigenous people, farmers, peoples movements, citizens and NGOs who in fact are the real force behind the protection and conservation of biodiversity and its equitable use for the benefit of mankind and not for private profit. 

For more details on LVCs participation please follow these links:-

Participation at the peoples biodiversity festival:

LVCs Press release:

LVC intervention on synthetic biology during the official CBD meeting:
Links to the ECO newsletter with news and analysis by the civil society alliance at the CBD:

Friday, October 26, 2012

Dr Venkat Reddy, vice president of KRRS, dies on Oct 21, 2012.

Dr Venkat Reddy, the vice president of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha passed away from a heart attack on October 21 2012. 

Dr Venkat Reddy's death is a huge loss to the farmers movement. In KRRS, he has left a legacy of his profound dedication to the movement and has inspired many, especially youth to join the struggle for a free, fair and just world and the rights of rural producers. He was at the forefront  of youth training on political and idealogical issues in the KRRS. Although, he had been working very closely with KRRS since the 1980's , he officially only became part of KRRS in 1999.

Procession on Oct 22 in Dodaballapur,
Karnataka for Dr Reddy

Dr Reddy was a strong opponent of caste based discrimination and arranged many
“casteless” marriages under KRRS's “simple self respect weddings” concept where no frills and intercaste weddings are arranged by the movement as a political act to defy the unjust norms of a caste ridden society.  Infact, he personally became a guide and supporter of many youth who approached him when they faced community and family opposition when they wanted to marry outside their caste.

Within KRRS Dr Reddy was one of the main forces reaching out to form alliances with other social movements, groups and activists. For e.g. he was involved in a struggle for the right to land of Gypsy (Lambanis) community members and through their struggle got land titles for the landless. In his home town on Dodaballapur, he also ran a hospital where he charged just Rs 5 for their services and where medical service is provided to all irrespective of financial means or background.  “I remember he provided free services to all, and inaugurated his hospital on a so called inauspicious day of the no moon and it was symbolically inaugurated by the most humble and disrespected member of society - a dalit widow. This was his way of challenging such outdated practices and taboos of society. We lost a great humanitarian and no one can replace Dr.Reddy.” recalls Chukki Nanjundaswamy of KRRS.
Dr Reddy during a KRRS action to uproot
illegal field trials of Duponts GM rice in 2011

KRRS organized a procession to commemorate the death of Dr Reddy as a symbol of his last journey in Dodabballpur on the 22 Oct 2012. It was attended by hundreds of people who came to pay homage. He was buried in his farm "Tabarana Tota".

Dr Reddy is survived by his wife, daughter, daughter- in -law, son and son-in-law and his four beloved grandchildren - Chukki(Star), Chiguru(Sprout), Dhanya(Grains), and Suggi(Harvest).

Thursday, October 25, 2012

North Indian farmers destroy Monsanto's GM corn field trials

Shahabad (Kurukshetra), October 18: In a dramatic action, farmers of the BKU forced the Haryana State Agriculture University to fulfil their commitment to destroy Monsanto's ongoing GM corn field trials in their public research station.
Last month, farmers and activists of the GM Free India coalition had met the state Agriculture Minister Paramvir Singh to show their resentment that public sector universities had become the experimental grounds for Monsanto's risky technology. They had requested a ban on GM field trials in the state. “A month has passed since we met the Agriculture Minister but the government has failed to act on our behalf. The onus is now on us,” said Gurnam Singh, Haryana state president of the BKU.
Hundreds of farmers carrying banners reading Monsanto GM corn Quit India” protested outside and gave an ultimatum to the research station of the Choudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University (CCHAU) when the university officials promised that they would completely destroy the field trial. However, later Monsanto's officials were caught trying to sneak out the GM corn from the research station with support of University staff. Alert farmers stopped them and surrounded the research station when this news spread. They then forced the University authorities to comply with their promise and burn the complete field trial.
The farmers’ protest follows a recent recommendation by India's Supreme court to put a 10-year moratorium on all field trials of GM crops in India owing to the risks involved. Public opposition to GMOs has been building in the country owing to growing scientific evidence on the negative impact of GM crops on human health and environment. There are also concerns about the manner in which seed companies are taking control of the seed sector by using their patented GM seeds. This has been the case with the only commercially cultivated GM crop in India - Bt Cotton. Monsanto now controls more than 90% of the cotton cultivated area of India and has wiped out local cotton varieties leaving framers with no alternative choice.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

LVC South Asia condemns the murder of landless activist Abdul Karim in Bangladesh

La Via Campesina South Asia strongly denounces the murder of Abdul Karim, a leader of the Bangladesh Krishok Federation (Bangladesh Peasants Federation) who was brutally killed by a man named Addur Rahim. The killer was patronized by local elite and powerful groups who had vested interest in a stretch of abandoned railway land that had been occupied by hundreds of landless men and women in 2004. Karim bhai as he was lovingly called, had led this movement of landless peasants to occupy this land to farm and live in dignity. Karim bhai was 63 years old.

His comerades in struggle recall that, “His dedication knew no bounds when it came to the struggle for land”. 3000 landless families are still living on that piece of land. It is because of their struggle that they were able to fulfill their fundamental human right to shelter, food and life. When our governments and economy exclude the poor, movements like BKF and dedicated members like Karim bhai ensure that the poor can walk with their heads up high.  

Abdul Karim adressing people outside his house
Bangladesh Krishok Federation and Bangladesh Kishani Sabha are planning to have a series of actions to denounce this murder. They include – a silent procession, a condolence meeting, protest rallys demanding exemplary punishment to the assailants and a national level discussion on the current trend of criminalization and murder of those who are the defenders of peoples rights to land.  

He is survived by his wife, two sons and one daughter along with a host of relatives and friends. 

Karnataka Youth Rally - Land is our right! No to Wal-mart!

On the 2nd of October, Gandhi's birthday, Karnataka's farmers' movement - KRRS celebrated by organizing a large youth gathering in Davangere town in Karnataka. They had made an open call to farming youth to come and become part of the farmers movement and defend their access and right to land, seeds, water and education. 
Youth from all over Karnataka responded enthusiastically and came in large numbers."We are proud of being farmers," said one KRRS  youth. Various veterans from the socialist movement, farmers leaders, education reformers addressed the youth men and women. Open calls were made to stop land grabbing, to stop the privatization of seeds, and to prevent the entry of large foreign retail like Wal-mart, and instead to carry out peoples real development.

The inclusion of youth has been a key challenge for farmers organizations which tend to be dominated by older and more experienced men, young women are even less to be found. KRRS has taken the issue of youth very seriously and plan to continue to organize many youth camps across the state as well as create more meaningful spaces for youth to participate in the movement.

KRRS also ratified a declaration at the meeting which included among other things a ban on land grabbing, which is currently being institutionalized in a new land acquisition law. They also demanded a reversal of a recent undemocratic executive decision by the government to allow the entry of foreign retail like Walmart in India in the pretext of a better deal for farmers among others.

Sri Lanka: Action for Sustainable Agriculture

Movement for National Land and Agrarian Reform (MONLAR) along with various other allies organized an action in the North-Central Province, Sri Lanka.

different faiths come together
for farmers rights
Close to a thousand people from the peasant organizations, civil organizations and religious leaders of different faiths, and a few politicians participated in the event. The event was held in the run up to the Provincial Council elections set for 08 SEP 2012. Weeks before, the Farmers’ Collective drafted a list of policy recommendations and handed them over to all election candidates of the two districts after discussion, through the peasant leaders of the respective districts. Candidates of all political parties contesting the elections were invited to the rally. 

Though not many local politicians appeared to stand in with the farmers’ demands, the Farmers’ Collective in their valiant effort to stand on their own footings and press for reform in local as well as national level policies to adopt sustainable peasant agriculture as the base of rural livelihood.
During the event, the following draft proposals were approved by the gathering as the demands of the farmers of the North-Central Province for campaigning in the future;
  1. Quickly raise the price of paddy!
  2. Cut off the interest of the loans 
  3. Give pension for peasants 
  4. Pay compensation of Rs. 30,000/= for each acre that was damaged 
The farmer organizations listed below endorsed the list of demands:-
  • Sarana sewa relief foundation
  • Progressive farmer's federation Polonnaruwa 
  • Farmer, Fisher, Worker Collective, Kaudulla, 
  • Lanka farmer's forum, Anuradhapura. Anuradhapura, 
  •  Nikasala community organization, Rajanganaya,   
  • Ape shakthi women's organization polonnaruwa,  
  • Rajarata gemi shakthi creative circle, Harigaswewa, 
  •  Sri Lankan rural development foundation, Madirigiriya 
  •  Community resources management foundation, Medawachchi
  • Dhathusena farmer's organization
  •  Mahaweli united farmer's organization 
  •  Manawa prabodha foundation 
  • Children's development & welfare center 
  • Polonnaruwa district livestock producers organization 
  • Anuradhapura District Inter faith collective, katiyawa

Monday, August 13, 2012

La Via Campesina South Asia Climate Change Declaration

August 4, 2012: Peasants’ organizations of Bangladesh, Nepal, India and Sri Lanka are gathered here to demand the transformation of the entire neo-liberal market system in favor of the common people. The fight against climate change is a fight against corporate-led capitalism which is aggravating landlessness, dispossession, hunger and poverty. We are here to declare that direct action by the people is the only remaining weapon of the common people of our region to end all forms of oppression.

Governments are wasting time discussing false market solutions to the climate crisis. We can see that the future of Mother Earth’s ecosystems and of humanity is in peril as those responsible for nature’s destruction are attempting to escape their historic responsibility to make real emission cuts and instead push for more false market-based solutions to the climate crisis which, in last two decades, have only exacerbated this crisis whilst generating profits for the polluters.
Activities at south Asian climate caravan in Dec 2011

We are gathered here in Kathmandu at a time when the climate discussions after 17 years of negotiations have become watered down to market mechanisms and a voluntary pledge system. Rio+20 has further launched the so called green economy which is actually a greed economy attempting to commodify all of nature instead of stopping its profit-induced exploitation. In the climate agreements, polluters are moving away from the mandated program of working towards legally-binding commitments to cut emissions. Developed countries are working hard to escape their historical responsibility of paying their climate debt and are pushing for a green climate fund controlled by private capital and the World Bank. Finally, there is a push to include agriculture in the negotiations, treating agriculture as a carbon sink rather than a source of food and livelihood. For La Via Campesina, with this trend of negotiations, it is better to have no deal than a bad deal that condemns humanity and our planet to a future of climate catastrophe.
Activities at south Asian climate caravan in Dec 2011

We are now at a critical moment for agriculture, small and marginal farmers and for nature. The impacts of climate change are steadily worsening, leading to harvest failures, destruction of habitats and homes, hunger, famine and loss of lives. Corporate capitalism is misusing this situation to push their false solutions for profit. Humanity and the ecosystems on which it depends face catastrophe if these false capitalist solutions proceed unchallenged.

We, therefore, demand from the SAARC countries and especially India which has to take a greater responsibility in our region for:
  1. A legally binding agreement to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions signed by all governments responsible for those emissions. Developed countries should commit to at least 50% domestic emission reductions based on 1990 levels, without conditions and excluding carbon markets or other offset mechanisms. High growth countries like India and China must take responsibility and make binding mitigation commitments. Such countries hide behind the poor using their development as an excuse to pollute and then carry out a predatory development that dispossesses the same poor of their lands and resources to benefits elite consumerism and private profit.
  1. Activities at south Asian climate caravan in Dec 2011
    Comprehensive genuine land reform including land and land titles for the landless. Land grabbing by elite interests and private corporations is growing rapidly and violently and needs to be stopped. Occupations initiated by the landless themselves to grow food and for a livelihood deserve the fullest support from governments as a solution to climate change. Women’s access to land must be a prioritized by targeted redistribution.
  1. Governments must support small family farmer agriculture and agro-ecology. Small farmers feed the world and cool the planet – they need fair prices for their produce, interest free credit, subsidies, guaranteed markets, insurance against disasters, support to practice self reliant ecological agricultural methods and traditional farming methods. Small farmer agriculture needs support for the food sovereignty of our nations. Stop the industrial farming green revolution model that promotes pollution and climate change.
  2. Activities at south Asian climate caravan in Dec 2011
    Constitutional recognition of the rights of adivasi's and support to indigenous farming.
  3. Recognition of the rights of dalits, women and youth peasants.
  1. Reparation rather than loans paid to the governments of the Global South as part of the climate debt owed by industrialized countries of the Global North.
  2. Keep the World Bank out of climate finance. All funds for climate finance must be public and be free from the control of the World Bank and private corporations. The World Bank, other IFIs such as Asian Development Bank and private corporations are recognized as the main drivers of the current unsustainable economic and development model which is causing climate change. They are part of the problem and cannot be construed as the solution.
  1. Activities at south Asian climate caravan in Dec 2011
    All adaptation measures to climate change to include the full participation of, and consultation with, local communities.
  1. Our carbon is not for sale. We demand an end to the proposed inclusion of agriculture as a carbon sink in the negotiations and all proposals of market mechanisms surrounding agriculture. Agriculture is not for sale for carbon credits – it is for feeding humanity.
We as La Via Campesina and the people of the world have the real solutions to the climate crisis and we call on all governments to heed them before it is too late. We call for building alliances between social movements and popular struggles. The world’s people will overcome the nexus between governments and multinational corporations that is strangling our planet.

Food Sovereignty is the solution! Peasant agriculture is not for sale!
Globalize the struggle, Globalize hope!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Nepal: Rice Day Celebrations - Save Rice Fields, Stop Land Grabbing!

June 29: The All Nepal Peasant Federation (ANPFa) organized a massive rice plantation program in 35 districts of Nepal on Ashar 15 to celebrate Rice day.  Ashar 15 is the auspicious day for paddy planting in Hindu culture where peasants start the day by planting rice and then follow up with a feast of curd and beaten rice (Dahi Chiura). Some of the notable celebrations took place in Kathmandu, Kailali, Jhapa, Dhading, Kaski, Nuwakot and Kavre. The Former Prime Minister of Nepal J. N. Khanal started the celebration of the peasant festival in Nuwakot.  Peasants planted rice throughout the day and demanded that Nepal’s rice fields be protected from land grabbing and conversion, given that rice is the staple food crop of Asians and holds a deep cultural significance. They also demanded that only agroecological farming methods, or ecological agriculture based on biodiveristy (BEA) be promoted and the land be protected against hybrids and chemicals. The special program was attended by thousands of peasants as well as senior peasant leaders such as the former deputy prime minister of Nepal, Bam Dev Gautam, President of National Co-operative Federation, Keshab Badal, deputy general secretary of ANPFa  Balram Banskota , and Secretary of ANPFa Hari Parajuli.

The Rice day of this year also doubled as the national peasant’s day and was characterized by the slogan of "Save the rice field and stop land grabbing!" 'We peasants are born in fields, we grow up playing with and die in to the same soil, but our land, our fertile soil are under a big threat, thus we all should be a part of a campaign to save our fields' said Prem Dangal, General secretary of ANPFa. Most of the speakers in the program focused on the degradation of rice fields and its conversion to unproductive concrete buildings. 'If we lose the fertile lands of the valley and riverside at this rapid rate, one day we will be in a deep food crisis '- highlighted the chairperson of ANFPA. 

ANFPA has been celebrating June 29 (Ashar 15) as the national rice and peasant day for many years.  Ashar 15 is a landmark day for ANPFa and their celebrations typically involve dancing, singing folk songs, celebrating peasant culture besides the planting of rice. The government of Nepal also organizes programs to celebrate this day and  has considered Ashar 15 as the National Paddy Day since 2004.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Landless and fisherfolk demonstration to distribute water bodies and khasland

On 10 June 2012 Bangladesh Krishok Federation (BKF) and Bangladesh Kishani Sabha (BKS) jointly organized a demonstration and memorandum submission program in Bhurugamari sub-district of Kurigram district. Hundreds of women and men marched from Bangashonar hat (local market) to Bhurugamari to give the memorandum to the local administration with 6 demands. They organized a demonstration in front of the local administration building and then handed over the memorandum to the sub-district officer. They demanded that the government distribute all common water bodies including Bongasonar Chora and khaslands (unused land) among the genuine fisherfolk and landless. 

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Indian Farmer loses life at BJP office during agitation

15 June: Farmer Kartar Singh, a senior citizen, from Bhora kalaan, Muzaffar Nagar, became a martyr during the agitation by farmers of Bhartiya Kisan Union today at BJP office. Police personnel were present in large numbers. Ironically water cannons were already deployed, but there were no water tanks for people to drink water. Kartar Singh lost his life due to non-availability of water in the scorching sun and an untoward scuffle with policemen. More than 50 thousand farmers had assembled at Jantar Mantar road early this morning. The farmers demonstrated their solidarity with their brethren of Annupur district, Madhya Pradesh, who have been jailed for protesting against forcible land acquisition. Hordes of farmers have reached from far and wide places like Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. They are demanding immediate release of arrested farmers by the Shhivraj Singh Chauhan led Bhartiya Janta Party state govt of Madhya Pradesh, and also a fair compensation for their land, after following due procedures of land acquisition. 

The farmers will continue to stay put at the BJP office at Ashoka road in Delhi.

Background:Forcible Land Acquisition by BJP Madhya Pradesh state govt
In the hinterland of Madhya Pradesh is a lesser known Annupur district with over one third forest area. The sparsely populated district has 6 lakh natives where more than 3 lakh are Scheduled tribes and over 4 lakh are Scheduled castes. The nation is as oblivious to existence of Annupur as to the struggle of its farmers. 
Farmers here were aghast when their standing crop was destroyed by state administration of Madhya Pradesh and the land awarded to Moser Baer Projects Thermal Power plant in 2010 in a gross violation of the current LARR (Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act.) 
Farmers had refused to part with their lands at the states measly offering. The state has also not sought any prior clearance from Environment Ministry. The land acquisition of fertile cultivable forest land for a coal based thermal power plant violates norms of EPA (Environment Protection Act), FRA (Forest Rights Act) or PESA (Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act). Farmer’s land was forcibly acquired regardless of their dissent ongoing since 2010. Meanwhile Moser Baers Project’s construction is nearing 60% completion.

Farmers from Bharitya Kisan Union led a peaceful demonstration on 5th May, 2012. The state police lathi charged the defenceless farmers and slapped criminal charges on them like IPC section 307 (Attempt to murder), 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting with weapons), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly). Charges were framed also against Rakesh Tikait, head of Bhartiya Kisan Union, who wasn’t even present at the 5th May demonstration. BKU planned for another agitation against the malicious indictment of farmers on 30th May. When Rakesh Tikait and hundreds of others reached Annupur by railways, they were arrested from the station in Annupur. Rakesh Tikait and hundreds of other innocent farmers are still in various jails in Annupur. While BJP led Madhya Pradesh state govt is impervious to all demands of farmers.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Hundreds of farmers jailed resisting landgrab for Moserbaers coal based power plant in MP

Farmers in Rampur UP
burn effigy of MP chief minister
-->Madhya Pradesh, India: About a thousand rail bound BKU activists from Uttar Pradesh (UP) along with leader Rakesh Tikait  on their way to Madhya Pradesh (MP) were lathi charged and arrested en-route and thrown in Jail on the 30 May by the MP government. They were going in solidarity with an anti land grabbing struggle against a Moserbaer power plant. Moserbaer is developing an unsustainable coal based Thermal Power project in the district Anuppur of Madhya Pradesh. BKU farmers were arrested at various railway stations and have been put in jails in many places like Annupur, Umriya, Byohari,Katni etc. About 98 women were put back into the trains and sent back to UP.

Farmers occupy BJP office in Muzzafarnagar UP
A farmers panchayat had been called at Anuppur to address the violent land grabbing of farmers and adivasi lands at throwaway prices and the criminalization of the protests. Many of the lands grabbed are owned by adivasi's - up to 36% of the population of Annupur district is tribal and requires forest clearances. While many have not even been compensated, the rate that is being offered is as low as 16 Rs per meter which is even cheaper than cloth said angered farmers. Fake criminal charges have been slapped on many farmers and the police has been using strong violence to quell protests. Farmers have demanded that criminal charges be removed, farmers be released and that no lands be acquired until the pending Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation & Resettlement Act is finalized. Most importantly, they demand that governments need to stop criminalization of protesters and instead invite them for dialogues during land struggles. BKU with other farmers movements have supported the recommendations of the parliamentary standing committee that no lands
Chandauli UP farmers protest at BJP office
be acquired for private players, that all agricultural lands (weather single or multi cropped) be banned from acquisition for the nations food sovereignty as well as that land givers need to give their consent – not merely be 'consulted' which can easily be forged in practice.

BKU has mobilized against the Bhartiya Janta Party across UP to demand the release of Rakesh Tikait and other hundreds of arrested farmers. The ruling BJP party government in MP state has been challenged by the farmers as being hypocritical as it has been organizing various pro farmer activities as part of its political campaign but on the ground has stolen farmers lands and used violence against them. Various actions have been carried out in the districts of Bijnaur, Chandoli, Fatehpura, Gajrola, Meerat, Noida, Saharanpur, Rampur etc and puppets of the chief minister Shivraj Singh have also been burned. BKU has threateend a “jail bharao” if the farmers are not released and the criminal charges on them are not removed.
Noida farmers protest at BJP headquarters

Finally, as the struggles around land grabbing intensify in India, peoples movements both nationally and internationally have been questioning the recent global trends and rationale behind land grabbing for the interests of a few over the real developmental needs of the many. They have questioned the obsession with land grabbing for industrialization that is geared towards elite consumption and not for feeding, clothing, housing, education, and the medical and livelihood needs of the masses. Finally they have questioned the domination of the urban vision over rural agrarian life. A development model that can keep people in the countryside, provide them sustainable dignified livelihoods, allow them to produce food and feed the nation is the key path to addressing the multiple environmental and hunger crisis that envelopes the world today.