Statement by Ekta Parishad on International Human Rights Day on the need to make Land-Rights as a Human Right

This is a statement released by Ekta Parishad as part of its Jansamwaad Yatra in response to the International Human Rights Day

Jansatyagraha is a year-long process organized by Ekta Parishad and supported by 2000 organizations to bring together landless dalits, adivasis, fisherfolks, women, urban poor and sexually vulnerable groups of India to demand control over land and livelihood resources. During this year, social activists representing different struggles will travel across India to highlight the campaigns that are happening on the ground and engage the state and other concerned actors in a process of dialog to find solutions to the problems of deprived communities. This process will culminate in a 35-day footmarch by 100,000 people from the deprived communities covering a distance of 350 kilometers to apply pressure on the state to bring about policy changes. The larger question that Jansatyagraha will raise will be related to people’s control over land and livelihood resources in order to fight poverty as opposed to the exploitation of these resources by the corporate houses for profit. The movement is an effort to question the globalization and neo-liberal framework for development and to propose a policy framework which promotes a development model that ensures justice and equity. In this connection, Jansatyagraha 2012 is in full support of the ‘Declaration of Peasant Rights- Women and Men’ proposed by Via Campesina to the UN body. To address global poverty, rights over land and livelihood for landless communities cannot be separated from the rights of peasants.

The spike in farmer suicides around the world is a clear indicator of the failure of the current model of development. The recent economic crisis confirms the failure of the current development paradigm in ensuring just and equitable development but an alternate paradigm has not yet emerged. Rights over land and livelihood resources will be a step towards creating a just and equitable world order. International bodies like the UN need to play an important role in facilitating this process of developing the alternative paradigm by not only adopting the declaration by Via Campesina but also extending it to make rights over land and livelihood resources for marginalized communities in rural areas and the rights for a decent place to live for urban and rural poor as a fundamental human right. Such an international framework will support the work of social activists in persuading their respective governments to create policy and implementation frameworks that provides deprived communities with opportunities to take control over their lives and live a life of dignity and self-respect. Jansatyagraha appeals to human rights activists around the world to take up the issue of people’s control over land and livelihood resources as a human right as this will enable us to defend other human rights.

Jansatyagraha would like to make a special mention of the targeting by the state of social activists and human rights defenders who are trying to defend the economic, social and cultural rights of deprived communities. On one hand, people are losing their livelihood resources and on the other, the defenders are prevented from defending the rights of marginalized. This needs to be immediately addressed if the rights provided by the respective constitutions and the various conventions formulated by international bodies like the UN have any chance of becoming a reality in the lives of marginalized communities.

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