(Bamako, 7 May 2012) The National Coordination of Peasant Organizations (CNOP) of Mali and La Via Campesina have today published a new report on the mobilization of social movements against land grabbing. Land grabs jeopardize food sovereignty and threaten sustainable family farming and peasants everywhere in the world.
The document stems from the first international peasant and farmer conference against land grabbing, held at the Nyéléni site in Sélingué in Mali, from 17 to 19 November 2011. The gathering included about 250 participants, principally women and men of rural and peasant origin, from 40 mainly African countries. It witnessed numerous testimonies by populations that had been ousted from their land by foreign investors who have set up vast monocultures for the export of foodstuffs or agrofuels. In most cases the populations are neither informed nor compensated.
Peasants and sustainable family farmers, women and men, with the support of non-governmental organizations and personalities, have drawn up a list of the manifestations of this phenomenon on the different continents. Then joint action lines were suggested to fight this scourge: opposition to the ultra-neoliberal policies of the World Bank, the development of a global peasant and small-scale farming alliance, the use of human rights mechanisms to defend the victims, and the launch of a campaign for genuine agrarian and land reform.
The report is being published at a time when the repression of peasant and rural populations fighting against these wrongs is intensifying. On 23 April in Mali, peasants of the Office du Niger area were threatened with shots fired into the air and taken to the police station, for having started working the land for the upcoming agricultural season. Fortunately, they have since been released but will still be prosecuted. This land is part of an area grabbed by a local investor, Modibo Keita, who, with the complicity of Malian authorities, is seeking to create a new empire of 20,000 hectares of agricultural land in the Office du Niger area.
A few days later, on 26 April 2012, in the Americas, more than 120 Honduran peasants were arrested while they were preparing to return to their homes after having put a peaceful end to the occupation of the land of a sugar company. The police only had arrest warrants for about 15 people and yet other residents were also taken away, including some who had not participated in the occupation.
On that same day in Andalusia in Spain, men and women family farmers were expelled from a 400-hectare public farm in Somonte which they occupied after it was put on speculative sale.
At a time when resistance to this offensive against rural and peasant communities is intensifying, the report published today suggests a joint action plan and possibilities for globalizing international solidarity.
Download the report: http://viacampesina.org/downloads/pdf/en/mali-report-2012-en1.pdf
Web documentary: Mali: Rush on irrigable land of the Office du Niger
Documents presented at the conference : www.viacampesina.org