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 This was his way of challenging such outdated practices and taboos of society.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