Three hot spots of violence to small-scale farmers
By: Eleanor Williams
Date: 20 March 2017
“Incidents of massacre, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and detention, political persecution and harassment are common”. This is the horrific persecution small-scale farmers worldwide are facing, as described by our allies at La Via Campesina (LVC). LVC is a global social movement representing millions of small-scale food producers. This extreme violence is increasing because the way of life of small-scale food producers stands in direct conflict with corporate agriculture.
Honduras: farmers oppressed to make way for oil palm plantations
Honduras is the deadliest country in the world in which to defend land. In the fertile North Aguan Valley, huge oil palm plantations are expanding. And to make way for them, numerous small-scale farmers have been assassinated, kidnapped, violently evicted or unjustly arrested. Yet the World Bank recently gave a $15 million loan to Honduran corporation, Dinant, which grows oil palm. Reports say that 120 murders have been linked to land disputes with Dinant.
Indonesia: farmers resisting the destruction of their village and farmland beaten by police
Three months ago, 1,500 police officers evicted people from their village in North Sumatra, Indonesia, and bulldozed their farmland. The police brutally beat those who resisted the destruction, including harming a child and an older person. All to allow a Malaysian plantation corporation to take over this community’s land. Indonesia is at the heart of the global palm oil trade. As commercial farming has expanded, so too has violence and land grabbing.
Brazil: death threats and assassinations used to grab land
The Bamapito valleys and plateaus in north-east Brazil once provided nearby small-scale farmers with hunting, firewood, fruit and more. But land-grabbers have forced these farmers off this land by using private security that issue death threats and carry out violence and even assassinations. Now soybean plantations dominate the area. Large-scale agriculture has forced these farmers to move or stop farming altogether.
Farmers are fighting back
I am inspired by the farmers groups and social movements that are fighting back, despite the serious risks. They are pushing for UN recognition of small-scale food producers’ rights through a declaration. This declaration would help food producers, like those in Honduras, Indonesia and Brazil, resist violence and corporate agriculture by protecting their rights to land, natural resources, seeds and more.
You can make a difference
Our government is one of the biggest backers of corporate agriculture in the world and it has been undermining the declaration. It shamefully spoke out against the declaration at the last negotiations. So our allies at LVC contacted us to ask if Global Justice Now and its supporters could lobby the UK government to change its stance. With the next round of negotiations happening in May, action is urgent.
You can donate here to help pressure our government to back the UN declaration of small-scale farmers’ rights. With your help, we can raise awareness about the oppression of small-scale farmers. And mobilise the public to mount pressure on our government to recognise farmers’ rights. Together, we stand in solidarity with small-scale farmers worldwide. The more voices that echo our demands, the more pressure there will be on the government to support the UN declaration of farmers’ rights.
Photo by Grassroots International; Man associated with the MST (Portuguese for Brazil’s Rural Landless Workers’ Movement).