Keynote Address to the 3rd General Assembly of Asian Peasant Coalition (APC), Sri Lanka, January 23-24, 2011

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
International League of Peoples’ Struggle
24 January 2011

First of all, I wish to convey to the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) the warmest greetings of solidarity and reiteration of support from the International League of Peoples’ Struggle. I thank you for inviting me to be the keynote speaker of your 3rd General Assembly. I feel doubly honored as I recall having been the keynote speaker of your 2nd General Assembly in Bandung in 2006.

We congratulate you for striving to unite and mobilize the peasant masses to struggle for their rights against the imperialist and domestic forces that deprive them of land, exploit them and oppress them. Your coalition stands us as a developing bulwark of the hundreds of millions peasant masses in Asia.

We congratulate you for the significant achievements that you have won since the last assembly. You have gained a certain level of strength to serve as the basis for expanding and further strengthening your ranks. The forces that your coalition and the peasant masses confront are becoming ever more rapacious and repressive.

As the theme of your assembly precisely demands, it is imperative that you consolidate your gains and strengthen Asian peasant unity, persevere in the struggle for land and national sovereignty and intensify the resistance against imperialist globalization and war. Landlessness in Asia and violations of peasant rights are intensifying at an alarming rate over the last ten years as a result of the policy of neoliberal globalization.

The persistence of this policy has aggravated the economic, financial and social crisis and has prevented any real economic recovery in terms of production and employment in both the imperialist and underdeveloped countries. The crisis is driving the US and the corporate giants to make up for the declining rates of profit in the imperialist countries by intensifying exploitation and

oppression and by raising further their superprofits in the underdeveloped countries.

The corporate giants in the US and other imperialist countries are engaged in land grabbing in collusion with corrupt domestic bureaucrats, big compradors and landlords, emboldening the traditional landlords to engage in further land accumulation and are preventing genuine land reform by drumming up the market as the way to solve the land problem. The foreign and domestic vultures are preoccupied with exploiting the natural and human resources and providing cheap raw materials and docile labor for the imperialist corporations.

The persistence of feudalism and semi-feudalism, characterized by landlessness among the peasant masses and aggravated by the intrusions of foreign agro-corporations, and the consequent lack of comprehensive and well-balanced industrial development are the fundamental reasons behind the widespread state of poverty and hunger among Asian farmers and other people in the rural areas who live on less than $1 a day.

You are correct in pointing out that neo-liberal policies have inflicted extreme suffering on the people. These policies include the reduction of subsidies in food, agriculture and social services as part of Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs); the constraints imposed by the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in favor of TNCs; the integration of agriculture under the World Trade Organization’s (WTO)/Agreement on Agriculture (AOA); and large-scale corporatization of agriculture.

The lack of genuine land reform and industrial development under the banner of national sovereignty is further pushing down the agrarian economies in Asia. There is a crying need for genuine agrarian reform and free land distribution and for agricultural cooperativization. But schemes of land concentration by a few have run fast ahead. They include the Compulsory Acquisition of Land, Special Economic Zones and so many other land-extensive projects not only in corporate agriculture but also for mining, logging, tourism and real estate speculation/

The imperialist countries collectively and bilaterally impose their policies on the puppet states in Asia at the expense of the peasant masses, farm workers, peasant women fisherfolk and other rural producers. They use the agencies like the IMF, the World Bank, ADB and WTO, and regional trade formations like APEC and ASEAN to perpetuate their dominance.

When multitateral trade agreements fail, like the Doha Round and the 6th WTO Ministerial Meeting in Hong Kong, the US and other centers of world capitalism pursue bilateral talks in the form of free trade agreements (FTAs) and the so-called ‘Aid for Trade’ which was supposed to complement the Doha Agenda.

We in the ILPS admire and highly appreciate the victories that the APC has achieved since 2003 in waging struggles for genuine land reform and defending human rights against repression, state terrorism and imperialist wars. You have accumulated strength by raising the level of consciousness, organization and mobilization of the peasant masses in Asia. You have acted effectively in a collective way as an alliance as well as individually in the different countries where your members are.

You have launched fact finding missions, exchange programs, coordinated researches, workshops, forums, tribunal, mobilization, petition signing, dialogues, conferences, solidarity missions and other enlightening activities. You have carried out mass campaigns for genuine agrarian reform against tremendous odds and difficulties. And you have learned from each other’s struggles by exchanging ideas and experiences and engaging in various forms of practical cooperation. We are therefore confident that you have the basis for advancing further.

We salute all the peasant masses, their organizations and their leaders that have resolutely and militantly waged mass struggles for their political, economic, social and cultural rights. We join you in acknowledging and celebrating the peasant struggles and victories in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia. We have avidly read reports about these in your website and in your briefing paper. We suggest that you include in the scope of your study and work the peasant masses of China, Indochina and possibly Central Asia.

We in the ILPS are proud that from July 2009 to April 2010, APC and ILPS Commission No. 6 cooperated in sponsoring the “Asia-wide Peasants’ Caravan for Land and Livelihood” with the theme “Stop Global Land Grabbing! Struggle for Genuine Agrarian Reform and Peoples’ Food Sovereignty.” The caravan culminated in the Philippines on April 11, 2010 with 12 international participants coming from 9 countries in Asia.

We consider that the 3rd general assembly is highly important and consequential. It serves as the venue to evaluate your work, to discuss, to brainstorm and to strengthen perspectives, strategies and collective action for your future work in the whole of Asia and in your respective countries. We are hopeful that the assembly fulfills all its objectives.

It is a requirement for the next harvest of victories and for your long term advance that you evaluate the work of APC (and its secretariat) and highlight its assessment points to guide its work ahead; unify your ranks on the practical application of principles and framework in your struggle for genuine agrarian reform as well as your networking, alliance and solidarity building; to consolidate and strengthen APC leadership, membership and its secretariat to effectively fulfill its mandate and tasks; and come up with general program of action, thrust and directions and common Asia-wide campaign.

I take this opportunity to invite the Asian Peasant Coalition and all its organizations to send delegations to the Fourth International Assembly of the ILPS to be held in Manila from July 7 to 9. You shall be able to present your just cause before Commission No. 6 and the plenary, to draw up a resolution on land reform and peasant rights and integrate it with the general resolution and with the over-all struggle of the people of the world and to network with various delegations representing people’s organizations on a global scale. Thank you.###

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