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The Human Rights Meeting of La Vía Campesina International will take place from August 18-20 at the Florestan Fernandes National School, in Guararema municipality, São Paulo.
Political leaders of all continents and popular lawyers linked to peasant movements from Africa, Asia, Europe and America will participate. The goal of the activity is to deepen on the debate about the current political situation and the criminalization of the struggles of social movements around the world. Special attention will be given to the issue of political prisoners.
In addition, the idea during the meeting is to come up with strategies for an action plan that unifies and hastens denunciations and initiatives already underway in each country, and also to promote international solidarity. The idea is to have a plan that allows rapid action and alert capacity in cases of rights violations.
“We expect to articulate the struggles against the criminalization of human rights defenders and the struggles to achieve these rights, also taking into consideration the common international scenario”, said Tchenna Maso, popular lawyer of the Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB) of Brazil, in a statement issued by La Vía Campesina.
According to the same statement, in Brazil, human rights violations and the criminalization of the struggle of social movements is a concerning and recurrent situation that is worsening with the coup d´ Etat that ousted President Dilma Rousseff. Peasants are accusing agribusiness actors of supporting these actions and articulations in order to undermine the resistance of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST) of Brazil over territory. Diego Montón, of the National Peasant Indigenous Movement of Argentina (MNCI) and the Operational Secretariat of the Latin American Coordination of Countryside Organizations (CLOC – Via Campesina) said according to the press release that the Judicial Branch has been an accomplice of the interests of agribusiness. Thus, for instance, on April 14, a tribunal of judges of Santa Helena municipality, Goiás State sustained the detention of two landless workers and ordered the detention of other two activists, in a clear attempt to frame the MST as a criminal organization.
Violence in the countryside has been increasing in Brazil. According to data by the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) in 2015 there were 50 people murdered, the highest number since 2004. Although there were no deaths in Goiás, the situation in the Center-West region of the country is delicate. In 2014 and 2015, the conflicts over land increased by 29 per cent. The state has been the focus of repression, as some kind of lab for the actions in other areas of the country. In Goiás, the number of recorded conflicts almost doubled, going from 21 to 39. In addition, the number of people involved in conflicts over land increased by 80 per cent in 2014 and 2015.
According to the statement, Diego Montón said that during the meeting there will be a discussion on the international mechanisms available to address the situation. The meeting aims to advance in the process of the struggle for a UN Peasants Rights Declaration and to think about national and regional agendas around this issue. Montón said that this is an important tool for the protection of peasant and indigenous peoples who are persecuted and criminalized by the big capital.
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