May 23, 2013
Repression and murder of rural workers over GM crops
On April 17, 2010, CBAN honours the struggles of peasant movements.
On October 21 2007 at 1:30 p.m., a Via Campesina encampment located at Syngenta’s 127-hectare farm used for field trials of genetically modified crops in Santa Tereza do Oeste, in Paraná, Brazil, was attacked by an armed militia. During the attack, a leader and activist from the Movement of Landless Workers (MST) and member of Via Campesina, Valmir Mota de Oliveira, 42 years old (known as “Keno,”) was killed at point-blank range by two shots to the chest.
The international peasant movement La Via Campesina issued a Call to Action for November 8th to make sure that the perpetrators are brought to justice and to demand that Syngenta retreat from the area currently used for genetically modified crop tests so that it may be converted into land for peasant based, sustainable agriculture.
Amnesty International Background: Human rights groups and land activists in the state of Paraná have previously suffered threats and intimidation from a number of groups formed by landowners. In a public hearing on October 18, local rights groups presented a dossier of evidence to the state human rights commission which highlighted the activities of armed men hired by landowners and agricultural companies. According to the report, they act with no legal controls or oversight, often using violent and illegal methods to forcibly evict, threaten and attack land activists. The farm had been previously occupied by the same group for over a year, in an attempt to speed up the process of formalizing the state government’s attempts to use the land for agrarian reform and environmental protection. The land is potentially environmentally sensitive because of its proximity to the Iguaçu National Park. Click here to read the Amnesty Urgent Action of Oct 25.
- Click here to read the CBAN press release Canadian Farm and Civil Society Groups Protest Killing of Farm Leader over Genetically Modified Test Crops in Brazil
- Click here to read the details from the Landless Rural Worker’s Movement (MST).
- Click here to read "Brazilian land activist killed in dispute over experimental GM farm" Nov 5 2007, The Independent
- Click here for the statement from Syngenta
- Press Release from the National Farmers Union “NFU Supports call for public investigation into tragedy” October 26.
Summary from MST:
On October 21 at 1:30 p.m., a Via Campesina encampment located at Syngenta’s 127-hectare farm used for field trials of genetically modified crops in Santa Tereza do Oeste, in Paraná, Brazil, was attacked by an armed militia. During the brutal attack, a leader and activist from the Movement of Landless Workers (MST) and member of Via Campesina, Valmir Mota de Oliveira, 42 years old (known as “Keno,”) was killed at point-blank range by two shots to the chest.
Two other MST leaders, Celso Barbosa and Célia Aparecida Lourenço, were pursued by the gunmen but managed to escape. "We are sure that they came here to kill Keno, Celinha and me," said Celso Barbosa, who added that they had received death threats and intimidation since the beginning of the year. Workers Gentil Couto Viera, Jonas Gomes de Queiroz, Domingos Barretos, Izabel Nascimento de Souza, and Hudson Cardin were seriously injured.
Amnesty International, the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net) and numerous other human rights organizations in Brazil and abroad have expressed their grave concern with the use by Syngenta (a Swiss Company) of an armed militia which was acting through a front company, NF Security, in conjunction with the Rural Society of the Western Region (SRO) and the Movement of Rural Producers (MPR), which are tied to agribusiness. An inquiry has been opened in order to speed along the denunciations against Syngenta and NF Security, but the Brazilian authorities have not taken any measures. The use by multinationals of armed militias in Brazil must stop immediately.
In order to ensure the punishment of those responsible for the aforementioned crimes—primarily those who ordered the attacks—as well as the disbandment of armed militias in the region, we are asking all friends and allies to send letters to the Syngenta headquarters in the United States, with a copy to the Swiss Embassy in Washington, DC.