Gathered in Bagnolet, France for our General Assembly, the European Coordination Via Campesina was and continuous to be profoundly shaken by the wave of deadly attacks and repression carried out against social movements across the world in the last week.
Brussels, 18 March 2016 A dreadful week of persecution against social movements around the world: grassroots internationalism has never been more necessary Gathered in Bagnolet, France for our General Assembly, the European Coordination Via Campesina was and continuous to be profoundly shaken by the wave of deadly attacks and repression carried out against social movements across the world in the last week. Still deeply troubled by the murder of community organizer Berta Caceres and the unjustified retention of Friends of the Earth activist Gustavo Castro Soto in Honduras, we received the tragic news Tuesday night that activist and fellow-in-struggle Nelson Garcia, a member of the same Indigenous rights group as Berta, had been assassinated. The attack on Nelson occurred following the eviction by the Honduran military of lands occupied by 150 families. The violence doesn’t stop there, though. Only a couple of hours before Nelson’s murder, a group of heavily armed gunmen shot and severely wounded Cristian Alegria, nephew of Rafael Alegria, National General Coordinator of La Via Campesina Honduras, as he was entering the organization’s office. This amounts to the sixth assault against La Via Campesina’s office in that country since the military putsch in 2009. As our fellows-in-struggle from the CLOC and La Via Campesina point out, these recent murders, plus the 12 other peasant and indigenous leaders assassinated since the beginning of the year, fit well into the intimidation campaign of the Honduran government against those men and women that defend their rights. This last week of brutal repression also touched our fellows-in-struggle from Turkey, where on Tuesday, 3 academics were arrested for having signed the petition entitled “We will not be a party to this crime”, which criticized the government's violent handling of the Kurdish issue. The detained academics will await in jail the completion of a criminal investigation that is accusing them of “propagandizing for a terrorist organization”. Another 37 academics have been fired and 669 others are facing legal and administrative investigations for having signed the petition. By the same token, our fellow peasant organization in Turkey, Çiftçi-Sen, struggles continuously against development and investments projects that seek to dispossess peasants by displacing them from their lands. In the current state of affairs in Turkey, peasants, students, academics, political activists and environmentalists are paying dearly their opposition to the government's market-oriented social and economic policies. It wouldn’t seem fair to stop here, for cases similar to the ones in Turkey and Honduras are wide spread, they just don’t get past their national media. Just last week in Colombia 6 peasant community leaders were assassinated. FENSUAGRO, Colombia’s largest agricultural workers’ union, has denounced the continuous threats, the kidnapping, murder, torture, and persecution against its members and those of other social movements in the country. In all, grass roots opposition to the commodification of commons such as land, water and seeds, or opposition to devastating warmongering policies, has become a threat to the continuous accumulation of wealth and power by multinational corporations and the governments that facilitate the dispossessions of the resources and the rights of communities. All the above mentioned doesn’t seem to interest the States in the Global North, though. The sanctions and declarations mobilized against Europe’s usual suspects don’t apply to her trade partners. On the contrary, corporations headquartered in Europe benefit greatly from repressive measures overseas that crush alternatives to their free-market policies and their industrial commodities, and moreover guarantee northern corporations the provision of cheap natural resources. Faced by this systemic dehumanization of our societies, instigated by transnational capital in the North as in the South, and the criminalization, repression and assassination of peasants, indigenous leaders, trade unionists, academics, journalists, environmental defenders, activists and everyone else standing up for justice, we need to strengthen our grassroots movement and alliances more than ever. As part of La Via Campesina, we at the European Coordination Via Campesina wants to reassert our international solidarity and reaffirm our commitment to fight against those that contribute to the destruction of land, health, food, water and lives in Europe and beyond. Globalize the struggle!! Globalize hope!! For our dead, not a minute of silence!! An entire life of struggle!!