The new year kicked off with intensified repression targeting the rural sector.
The People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty slams the escalating state attacks against farmers and indigenous peoples in many countries across the globe. We call out these governments – especially in the Philippines, Cambodia, and India – for the blatant violation of human rights to facilitate the aggressive implementation of neoliberal policies in the pretext of coping with COVID-19 pandemic.
We abhor the killings and mass arrests of rural peoples in the Philippines, which signifies the reigning inhumanity and impunity perpetrated by the Duterte regime. Filipino farmers and indigenous peoples are often treated as enemies of the state for defending their lands and communities from state-backed corporate control and plunder. The government’s heightened counter-insurgency campaign is being used as guise to forcefully evict rural communities and quell their resistance.
In the past four years of Duterte’s presidency, the Peasant Movement of the Philippines has documented 22 peasant massacres and a total peasant death toll of 313. PCFS strongly condemns the latest of these massacres that happened in December 2020 – the brutal killing of five mango farmworkers in Baras, Rizal and the nine indigenous Tumandok in Panay Island. Billions of the country’s funds are being used to such overkill operations against defenseless farmers and IPs.
Enjoying the outright support from the president, the police and military have now gained the gall to publicly issue shoot-to-kill orders even to distinguished leaders of the legitimate mass movement. We denounce this death threat against Windel Bolinget, chairperson of PCFS member organization Cordillera Peoples Alliance, who has faced relentless threats and harassment since last year.
The Coalition also decries the violent efforts to displace the farmers of Hacienda Yulo in Sitio Buntog, Calamba, Laguna amid pandemic. Since last year, their homes have been ransacked and burned down by hired goons of the Yulo-owned San Cristobal Realty Development Corporation (SCRDC) and Ayala Land Inc. Farmer-residents of the 7,100-hectare hacienda have been asserting their rights to the disputed land for decades, since 1911.
Such attacks are not just happening in the Philippines. In Cambodia, legitimate dissent is being criminalized. A community leader from Choam Kravien, Sihanoukville province and two from Sre Prang, Tbong Khmum province were arrested while more than 50 from the provinces of Tbong Khmum and Koh Kong for their active assertion of their right to land. PCFS supports the appeal for the dropping of the charges and the release of the political prisoners issued by more than 80 organizations.
PCFS lauds the farmers movements that continue to strengthen their ranks and advance their struggles despite these relentless attacks. India’s protesting farmers deserve this regard for the continuing success of Delhi Chalo in the face of constant police intimidation and suppression. Let us support their march and tractor parade on January 26, India’s Republic Day.
Likewise, we extend our solidarity to all the persevering rural peoples movements and censure the global trend of worsening state repression, wielded to back up neoliberal offensives and silence our cause. #StandWithFarmers!