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WITNESS RADIO MILESTONES

Global Peasants Movement demand for peasants protection. Enough of FTAs, enough impunity for Corporations!

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By witnessradio.org Team

(Harare, April 17th 2018) After two decades of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), being advanced in an attempt to recolonize and 22 years after the de Eldorado dos Carajás massacre in Brazil, La Via Campesina denounces the impunity with which these actions are carried out. The global peasant movement issues a call to resist, in an organized way, these treaties that try to take over of our natural resources and local markets, for the benefit of the transnational capital and agribusinesses, with the States playing a mute spectator or an accomplice.

This 17th April, on the occasion of the International Day of Peasant´s Struggle, the member organisations and allies of La Via Campesina are organizing scores of unified and decentralized actions in a global scale, for the right to land and water, against the Free Trade Agreement and against the criminalization of the social struggle saying: Enough FTA, enough impunity!

The FTAs are more than just commerce. These are agreements that enforce structural reforms, which in turn strengthen the transnational corporations (International legally binding instrument on transnational corporations (TNCs), the economic interests of the national elites and the governments. Free Trade Agreements have the global objective to commercialise water, land, seeds and taking over life itself.  Bilateral and Regional free trade agreements that are done between two or more governments, even though may remain outside the World Trade Organisation, and are also tools to advance the neo-liberal agenda.

Just as the mistrust of FTAs are growing, so are the acts of resistances and mobilisations. Today, and in the coming weeks, our organizations all around the world are organising several actions to denounce the adverse impact FTAs have had on peasant families and food sovereignty.

The European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC) is mobilising in the region and demanding from the European Union to free the peasants from Free Trade Agreements!

Protesting the MERCOSUR, CETA, JEFTA free trade agreements, ECVC states “these treaties are a fatal blow to us, small and medium farmers already in a situation of crisis. These agreements facilitates dumping and the expansion of agroindustry at the expense of peasant communities”.

CLOC, the Latin American Coordination of Via Campesina calls upon the people to resist the impunity of Corporations that carry out human rights violations. It insists on building new alternatives in the territories and demand the implementation of popular agrarian reform that guarantees food sovereignty to the people.

The International Coordination Committee (ICC) of La Via Campesina is also meeting in South Korea in the week, starting April 17. To commemorate the struggle against FTAs, the ICC will also take part in the International Forum on Free Trade and Agriculture in Seoul on April 19.

“Even though World Trade Organisation (WTO) has failed in their multi-lateral agreements, it still functions as the world’s police enforcing the neoliberal Free Trade Agreements. And with the FTAs the corporations and States are carrying out an assault against the peasantry. Institutions such as the WTO, World Bank, International Monetary Fund never work for the peasants and for this reason, as peasants, we think that they should just disappear” says Kim Jeong Yeol from the Korean Women Peasant Association and an ICC member.

La Via Campesina this day also denounces the systematic violations of the peasants fundamental rights that could be alarming, in countries like Brazil, Paraguay, Honduras, Colombia among others thousands of peasants are murdered with total impunity. In Indonesia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, The Philippines and Pakistan, thousands of peasants are murdered with total impunity and many violations of peasants’ rights also occur. These incidents tend to aggravate because of the FTAs that are exclusively to the service of the corporations and the capital. This is why in this context we demand a “UN Declaration recognising the Rights of Peasants and Other People working in Rural Areas”.

Free Trade Agreements promote land and water grabbing, destroy local markets and put food sovereignty at risk all together. And the effects are far wider and promote the privatisation of public services as well – like health services, medicine, telecommunications, energy, the water supply provisions, – among others- opening vast areas to foreign investment. In many cases the signatory governments are forced to reform their laws, and carry out irreversible compromises. The protection of the investments forbids agrarian reform, as Governments prioritises investor interests over national democratic decisions. Through such agreements, the Corporations strengthen their power to influence policies and regulations in these signatory countries.

Mobilize!

This April 17th join the different mobilizations united to struggle for a systematic change, defending the land, territories and food sovereignty for the people, saying: No to FTAs and global capitalism! No FTA benefits the working class, we must eradicate them not reform them”!

We feed our people and build movement to change world!

The report of VII Conference is now available on line here

Press contacts:

Nury Martínez – Fensuagro Colombia – La Vía Campesina South America – Spanish: +573107720098
Federico Pacheco – SOC España – La Vía Campesina Europe – French: +34690651046
Kim Jeong-Yeol – Korean Women Peasant Association– La Vía Campesina Asia – English: +821048117996

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DEFENDING LAND AND ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS

Kiryandongo leadership agree to partner with Witness Radio Uganda to end rampant forced land evictions in the district.

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By Witness Radio team.

Kiryandongo district leaders have embraced Witness Radio’s collaboration with the Kiryandongo district aimed at ending the rampant violent and illegal land evictions that have significantly harmed the livelihoods of the local communities in the area.

The warm welcome was made at the dialogue organized by Witness Radio Uganda, Uganda’s leading land and environmental rights watchdog at the Kiryandongo district headquarters, intended to reflect on the plight of land and environmental rights defenders, local and indigenous communities and the role of responsible land-based investments in protecting people and the planet.

Speaking at the high-level dialogue, that was participated in by technical officers, policy implementers, religious leaders, leaders of project affected persons (PAPs), politicians, media, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and development partners that support land and environment rights as well as the Land Based Investments (LBIs) Companies in the Kiryandongo district, the leaders led by the District Local Council 5 Chairperson, Ms. Edith Aliguma Adyeri appreciated the efforts taken by Witness Radio organization to organize the dialogue meeting aimed at bringing together stakeholders to safeguard community land and environmental rights in order address the escalating vice of land grabbing in the area.

During the dialogue, participants shared harrowing accounts of the impacts of land evictions and environmental degradation, including tragic deaths, families torn asunder, young girls forced into marriage, a surge in teenage pregnancies, limited access to education, and significant environmental damage which have profoundly affected the lives of the local population in Kiryandongo.

Participants attending the dialogue.

In recent years, Kiryandongo district has been embroiled in violent land evictions orchestrated to accommodate multinational large-scale agriculture plantations and wealthy individuals leaving the poor marginalized.

According to various reports, including findings from Witness Radio’s 2020 research Land Grabs at a Gun Point, the forceful land acquisitions in Kiryandongo have significantly impacted the livelihoods of local communities. It is estimated that nearly 40,000 individuals have been displaced from their land to make room for land-based investments in the Kiryandongo district. However, leaders in the district also revealed in the dialogue that women and children are affected most.

The Kiryandongo Deputy Resident District Commissioner, Mr. Jonathan Akweteireho, emphasized that all offices within the Kiryandongo district are actively involved in addressing the prevalent land conflicts. He also extended a welcome to Witness Radio, acknowledging their collaborative efforts in tackling and resolving land and environmental issues in the district.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we all know that the land rights together with environmental rights have been violated in our district, but because we don’t know what our rights are, because we have not directly done what we could to safeguard our rights and now this is the time that Witness Radio has brought us together to safeguard our rights. I want to welcome you in Kiryandongo and be rest assured that we shall give you all the necessary support to help us manage these rampant cases,” Ms. Adyeri said in her remarks during the dialogue meeting.

The team leader at Witness Radio Uganda, Mr. Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala expressed gratitude to the participants for their active involvement in the dialogue and revealed that Witness Radio’s objective is to find a holistic solution to the escalating land disputes in Kiryandongo district serving as an example to other districts.

“We are here to assist Kiryandongo district in attaining peace and stability because it stands as a hotspot for land grabbers in Uganda. Mismanagement of land conflicts in Uganda could potentially lead to a significant internal conflict. Everywhere you turn, voices are lamenting the loss of their land and property. Kiryandongo, abundant with ranches, suffers from a lack of a structured framework, which amplifies these land conflicts. The influx of wealthy investors further complicates the situation,” Mr. Ssebaggala disclosed.

Within the dialogue, Mr. Ssebaggala emphasized the need for the Kiryandongo district council to pass a by-law aimed at curbing land evictions as an initial step in addressing the prevalent land injustices.

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WITNESS RADIO MILESTONES

Kiryandongo authorities decry rising cases of land disputes

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The LC5 chairperson of Kiryandongo, Ms Edith Aliguma Adyeri, has saidnland dispute has impacted on people’s lives, dignity and children’s education in the district.

Just like other parts of Uganda, conflicts over land in Kiryandongo arise when individuals – who often are blood relatives – compete for use of the same parcel of land or when members of the community lay claim over ownership of unutilised government land.

Ms Adyeri further said land and environmental rights affect people both directly and indirectly, “and we are not hearing it from afar. It is already together with us [here], it has already affected us!”

She was speaking at a meeting which sought to discuss alternative remedies to salvage the appalling land and environmental rights situation in Kiryandongo at the district headquarters on Thursday.

The one-day dialogue was aimed at reflecting on the plight of land and environmental rights defenders, local and indigenous communities and the role of responsible land-based investments in protecting people and the planet.

It was attended by private companies, members of civil society and local government officials and organised by Witness Radio – an advocate for land and environmental rights in Uganda – in partnership with Oxfam, and Kiryandongo District leadership.

“Some people have even died, families are broken up, and brothers are not seeing eye-to-eye because of land rights. Access to justice is equally becoming very difficult because when you hire one lawyer that
lawyer will talk to learned friends, and they agree. They leave you in suspense,” Ms Adyeri said.

According to her, some children have not accessed education because of land and environmental rights.

Mr Jonathan Akweteireho, the deputy Resident District Commissioner of Kiryandongo, said enlightened people especially should be sensitive to the historical injustice of this area.

“We can never handle the Bonyoro land question without thinking about that history. It will be an injustice to the incomers, to the government and to the leaders who don’t understand,” he said.

“We had 38 ranches here which on the guidance of these international organisations, especially the World Bank, the government restructured them, allowing people to settle there, they were never given titles and up to today, there are big problems in all those ranches,” he added.

Mr Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala, the executive director of Witness Radio, said that a well-functional land sector supports land users or holders and investors, reduces inefficiencies and provides mechanisms to resolve land disputes.

Mr David Kyategeka, the secretary to the Kiryandongo District Land Board, said the issue of land rights is very clear but the major challenge has been sensitising the locals to know what rights he or she expects to enjoy out of this very important resource.

Source: www.monitor.co.ug

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DEFENDING LAND AND ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS

Statement: The Energy Sector Strategy 2024–2028 Must Mark the End of the EBRD’s Support to Fossil Fuels

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The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is due to publish a new Energy Sector Strategy before the end of 2023. A total of 130 civil society organizations from over 40 countries have released a statement calling on the EBRD to end finance for all fossil fuels, including gas.

From 2018 to 2021, the EBRD invested EUR 2.9 billion in the fossil energy sector, with the majority of this support going to gas. This makes it the third biggest funder of fossil fuels among all multilateral development banks, behind the World Bank Group and the Islamic Development Bank.

The EBRD has already excluded coal and upstream oil and gas fields from its financing. The draft Energy Sector Strategy further excludes oil transportation and oil-fired electricity generation. However, the draft strategy would continue to allow some investment in new fossil gas pipelines and other transportation infrastructure, as well as gas power generation and heating.

In the statement, the civil society organizations point out that any new support to gas risks locking in outdated energy infrastructure in places that need investments in clean energy the most. At the same time, they highlight, ending support to fossil gas is necessary, not only for climate security, but also for ensuring energy security, since continued investment in gas exposes countries of operation to high and volatile energy prices that can have a severe impact on their ability to reach development targets. Moreover, they underscore that supporting new gas transportation infrastructure is not a solution to the current energy crisis, given that new infrastructure would not come online for several years, well after the crisis has passed.

The signatories of the statement call on the EBRD to amend the Energy Sector Strategy to

  • fully exclude new investments in midstream and downstream gas projects;
  • avoid loopholes involving the use of unproven or uneconomic technologies, as well as aspirational but meaningless mitigation measures such as “CCS-readiness”; and
  • strengthen the requirements for financial intermediaries where the intended nature of the sub-transactions is not known to exclude fossil fuel finance across the entire value chain.

Source: iisd.org

Download the statement: https://www.iisd.org/system/files/2023-09/ngo-statement-on-energy-sector-strategy-2024-2028.pdf

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