One of the allied organizations present at the International Conference on Agrarian Reform, that took place in Para, Brazil, from April 13-17, was Focus on the Global South, through its Executive Director Shalmali Guttal. In an interview with Real World Radio, Shalmali talked about three aspects considered important by her to describe the situation related to the defense of common resources, and the threats they face in the Asian continent: dispossession, criminalization and impunity.
“I think we are seeing one of the largest dispossessions of local communities, whether it’s indigenous people or peasants, or fisherfolk, rural workers or other traditional communities of access to land, water, forests, biodiversity, seeds, that we have seen in the past”, she said.
According to her, one of the main mechanisms to allow for the advance of this historical dispossession are free trade and investment agreements “which are beyond what we have seen in the past. They are beyond the WTO model: they are trade agreements in which investments are a part of it, and investors/state disputes settlements have special laws, whereby investors can sue the state in private proceedings, in case states do not allow investors to get access to the resources that they want. This is creating huge dispossession, and this is a dispossession that is legal, that’s the tragedy of it”.
The second process pointed out by Shalmali when describing the situation of common resources and the rights of the people is the criminalization of protests: “Those who stand up against this dispossession, who stand up for their rights, for their land, are either arrested arbitrarily, put away in jail for a long period of time, they are threatened, intimidated, they are often disappeared, they are shot. We have a lot of extrajudicial killings across Asia”.
This is also the case for those who support these communities, whether lawyers, social organizations and even journalists, said the analyst. Contrary to those who try to defend their rights and are easily prosecuted and imprisoned, those who attack or kill the members of these communities, whether private militia, hired thugs or private security “are never brought to justice”, denounced Shalmali.
Imagen: Real World Radio
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