On Tuesday, The Palestinian Peasants Movement (La Via Campasina) held its first conference in Ramallah, in conjunction with Gaza, with the presence of big number of farmers, fishermen and their representatives, along with civil society organizations, associations and unions and many local and international media outlets, amid remarkable local and global interest.The conference carried the title “ Let's Fight Together for Peasants Right to Movement and Accessibility and Fight Monopolism”
The conference events took place in the West Bank and Gaza, included several workshops presented by experts and civil society organizations representatives, it focused on the importance of launching a Palestinian La Via Campasina for all Palestinians for its role in protecting the internal front in the face of all forms of oppression, and in defending the full set of national rights, starting with the right of owning our Palestinian land which is under tremendous danger of confiscation and colonization on a daily basis, the conference also included presenting papers that discussed the role of governmental and nongovernmental organization in the advancement of the agricultural sector and other papers talking about social movements.
Fuad Abu Saif, the director general of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees pointed: “ The announcement of launching such movement that aspire to put all the efforts available in supporting authentic rights for all peasants in Palestine wherever they are is a precious opportunity that we should not miss, we have to nourish it and provide all reasons to strengthen it. This movement will be the only platform that carry the voices of peasants to all forums, defend them and stand against anyone who tries to hurt them, the movement also fight monopoly and oppression, fight cheating and domination, fight land theft and fights corporates that conspires against peasants rights, and fight for sovereignty over resources and decision making”
Paula Gioia, member of the International Coordination Committee of La Via Campesina gave a speech where she reviewed the stages of struggle and its various forms that the movement lead all over the world, in her speech she focused on the tremendous suffering that peasants go through around the world and the amazing role La Via Campasina play to defend them, the voice of the movement is now more heard than anytime before, the movement is about to reach 200 million member,thus it has more presence on all levels.
Paula also spoke about the importance of launching the Palestinian La Via Campasina particular importance of this movement is reflected in the formation of another force to expose the occupation to the world, and to address all this injustice to which Palestinian people live under, saying that the Palestinian people deserve to be free and sovereign over their land. Mrs. Paula concluded her speech by sending a freedom greeting to the farmers of Palestine and renewed the pledge that the movement will remain one of the most important tools to support the Palestinian farmers in their various struggles.
On the level La Via Campasina middle East and North Africa chapter (still being formed), Mrs Turkiya Al-Shaby joined the conference via video conference and presented a speech on behalf of the Tunisian peasants movement which congratulated the Palestinian movement, and affirmed the depth of relationship between the Palestinian and Tunisian people, she also said that peasants all over the Arab World have common concerns regarding poverty, monopoly and confiscation, the injustice is similar everywhere, as well as the domination.
From another end, a speech was given by the National University for Peasants Sector- La Via Campasina in Morocco, the speech was presented by Mrs Samira Al-Rissi where she affirmed the importance of launching the Palestinian La Via Campasina, and said that Palestine is the struggle compass for the whole region, she also stressed the importance of Arab countries and Arab farmers joining the La Via Campasina in order to obtain protection and preservation of their rights.
At the level of the friends and supporters of the Agricultural Work Committees, Ms. Sylvia Morales, Regional Director of the Norwegian Aid Office, delivered a speech that focused on the long history of partnership with UAWC and the Palestinians, and that this move today is a step towards a better future for Palestinian farmers. The establishment will contribute to advancing the struggle for the rights of farmers and fishermen in the field of laws and legislation to improve the confrontation of Israeli occupation policies and to strengthen the steadfastness of Palestinians in general and farmers in particular.
The conference concluded with an open discussion with the guests and farmers who attended. The discussion concluded with the recommendations of the farmers to form priorities for their work within the movement in the coming period, the most important recommendation was: the dedicated work that aim to strengthen and frame the movement, to provide all the conditions of success and life for the newborn movement by supporting it in all forms and open the door of membership for any farmer. The conclusions also stressed that the rights of peasants are not negotiable or bid and that defending them is a collective national responsibility, and that the forms of violations of the rights of the Palestinian farmers are various, whether it resulted from the marginalization of peasants by official institution or took the form of monopoly by some merchants and companies, while keeping in mind that the Israeli occupation is the greatest harm and the real danger to farmers.
Therefore, the struggle to end the occupation is a matter of great importance to the movement, in addition to focusing on the importance of giving local seeds special attention and employ all efforts and policies to protect this important heritage. Also, the conclusions focused on the importance of protecting and defending the rights of fishermen should be a top priority.
The recommendations also highlighted the importance of building awareness campaigns among the agricultural communities and inform them about importance of having a Palestinian peasants movement. They also recommended forming lobbying groups and advocacy that aims to deliver the voice of farmers locally and internationally, the recommendations welcomed all forms of coordination and cooperation with individuals or institutions that care about peasants rights.
The movement also considers itself an integral part of the international La Via Campasina. The Palestinian voice must reach out in order to form the largest force to exert pressure on the occupation to end its targeting of the Palestinian farmers, the movement demand the ministry of Agriculture and the Palestinian government to support them effectively and without delay and to work on the development of clear policies that equate farmers.