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VIVA POSCO People in Odisha Viva!: People's Struggle against POSCO won by People.

Dear Friends,
As you may know from the media about recent the statement by Odisha’s Industry Minister, Devi Prasad Mishra that “POSCO confirmed the withdrawal of its project by requesting the Odisha government to take back the land transferred in its name”. We strongly believe this is not just a victory for our people but also the victory for the all the peasants, fisher folks, forest dwellers who are democratically fighting to protect their land, livelihood and environment. This is a victory against false propaganda, intimidation, false cases and threats of forcible eviction. This is a victory against the invasion by a global capitalist giant like POSCO in partnership with the Central and State Governments. Since this Special Economic Zone (SEZ) project was the largest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) investment in this country, it has to be treated as a symbol of struggle against globalization and India’s freedom.
We sincerely convey our thanks to all activists, organizations, people’s movements, progressive intellectuals, like minded Political Parties, media and concerned individuals who have extended support to our struggle.
We strongly condemn the Odisha government’s decision; land acquired and transferred to POSCO will be kept in the Land Bank. The statement of Odisha’s Industry Minister, Devi Prasad Mishra in the Assembly of Odisha was “Steps are being taken for fencing the land by Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO)”. This is illegal, undemocratic, anti-peasants, and unwarranted. The Odisha government must follow the Supreme Court decision on the pattern of Singur where land of farmers acquired by Tata's Nano plant in West Bengal was returned to them.
The government of Odisha must respect the unanimous resolution by Dhinkia Gram Sabha ( Panchayat level assembly of adult members) i.e.
on 18th of October 2012 , where more than 2000 people participated in the meeting and resolved that the land used for beetle vine cultivation is clearly under the rights provided to the Gram Sabha under the Forest Rights Act, 2006. Claims on the forest lands approved and recommended by the Palli Sabhas of villages (Dhinkia, Govindpur…) are still pending for recognition and no step has been taken to recognize their rights. We are strongly determined to reoccupy our farm lands and reconstruct our vineyards for the cultivation of betel leaves.
Over the last 12 years, our villagers have had to pay a heavy price for their peaceful opposition to the project in order to protect our habitat for future generations. The prove to the indiscriminate brutal repression on the citizens of the country lies in the fact that four persons have so far been killed and many injured in clashes.
Several leaders of the movement have been jailed multiple times. Till now more than 2000 warrants have been issued against the people and more than 400 false cases both men and women have been registered at the Kujang police station since 2005. There have been also multiple instances where police and the goons supported by POSCO have unleashed a reign of terror in the area. Till today, many villagers cannot come out of their villages even for their hospitalization, due to the threat of arrests. This approach of false arrest and intimidation by the government only perpetuates injustice and ruins the democratic fabric of our country.
In the year 2012, The district administration of Jagatsinghpur along with the Industrial Development Corporation of Odisha ( IDCO) had
chopped down the over 1,70,000 trees in our nearby villages for the
benefit of a private company like POSCO. The trees like mangroves, cashew nut, betel vines, fruit bearing trees and casuarinas forest. In
1999 Super Cyclone, our villages were not devastated by nature’s fury as the green cover and sand dunes protected us from the surging tidal waves, whereas more than 10,000 persons perished in the nearby Kujang and Earasama blocks of Jagatsinghpur district . After cutting the trees, our villages became perpetually vulnerable to the cyclones.
Though, it’s impossible to substitute the natural forest, we strongly demand that the government must pay compensation to our villagers who are depending on these trees for their livelihoods and start massive plantation of eco friendly trees in our nearby villages.

We demand the government of Odisha to
1. Compensation on humanitarian grounds to the families of
the deceased and widow who were killed in the bomb blast and proper medical help for the injured person.
2. Return the land taken from our villagers immediately to
their owners without taking any pretext.
3. Recognize our claims on rights over forest land as per FRA 2006.
4. Withdrawal of all fabricated and false cases against our
villagers and activists.
5. Compensation to the persons whose beetle vines were
destroyed by the government.

Hoping for Support and Solidarity,
Prashant Paikray  Spokesperson,
POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti
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Sri Lankan Women Collective Present the Case Of Sri Lankan Women: CEDAW report presented at Geneva

Presented at 66th Session, Geneva

Presented by: ThiyagiPiyadasa, Hyshyama Hamin, Rosanna Flamer-Caldera, Shyamala Gomez AnushaniAlagarajahand Kumudini Samuel, on behalf activists and organizations (listed in page 4) working on women’s civil, political, socio-cultural and economic rights in rural and urban parts of Sri Lanka.

Madam Chair,

This is a joint statement of activists and 8 women’s rights organisations. We would like to begin by drawing attention to the fact that Sri Lanka is engaging in a process of transitional justice and constitution making as we speak. We urge the committee to keep this context in mind in your deliberations.

We would now like to highlight the following:

Judicial Review of Legislation
Article 16 of the present Constitution prohibits judicial review of legislation and supersedes the guarantees of equality and non-discrimination, and we call for its repeal.

Fundamental Rights Chapter of the Constitution
The Fundamental Rights Chapter of the Constitution must include an explicit section on Women’s Rights.

Discriminatory Laws, Policies and Practices
Despite Sri Lanka’s international treaty obligations and commitments, including to CEDAW, discriminatory provisions in the Penal Code relating to consensual same sex relations; statutory rape (exemptions for married girls between the ages of 12- 16); impersonation; provisions in the Land Development Ordinance and State Lands Ordinance that grant state land in single ownership, instead of joint or co ownership; personal laws including the Muslim Personal Law and Thesawalamai; Vagrants Ordinance and Brothels ordinance continue to be enforced, and must be repealed. 

Economic Participation
Female labour force participation is half that of men (34%). Women comprise 54% of the informal economy. The majority includes rural, fisher, agricultural and domestic sectors. They are denied protections afforded to the formal sector. Equal pay for work of equal value is denied to women in all sectors.

Discriminatory Practices
Discriminatory concepts such as ‘head of the household’; nuclear ‘happy families’ inform a number of policies. For example - Women with children under the age of 5 are prohibited from migrating for overseas employment. Furthermore all women expecting to migrate for work have to provide a Family Background Report, this does not apply to men. 

Muslim Personal Law
The Muslim Personal Law continues to render Sri Lankan Muslim women and girls as second-class citizens. The law permits child marriage. It requires adult women to obtain guardian’s consent, prohibits women from being Quazi judges or registrars, which are state-salaried positions, allows polygamy without conditions or consent of wives. There are also procedural and practical issues faced by women in the Quazi (Muslim) courts, which inhibit their equal access to justice and due process.

The State has abdicated its responsibility to reform Muslim Personal Law, on the ground that it is a matter for the Muslim community. We strongly object to this stance.

Despite multiple government committees, with predominantly Muslim men, appointed to review the Muslim personal law since 1990, none of these efforts have been yet fruitful. In 2011, recommendations by the CEDAW Committee called for an inclusive process of engagement, in particular women’s groups in the reforms process. However recent backlash from conservative Muslim groups has created a hostile environment where women activists, advocates and affected women who gave testimonies, have been intimidated.

The State must muster its political will to ensure that Muslim women are treated as equals under the law. Over 66 years of state-sanctioned systemic discrimination against Muslim women and girls must end!

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Despite CEDAW Concluding Observations and activism for the repeal of Sections 365 and 365A of the Penal code, and recommendations by the Committee for Constitutional Reform (PRCCR) and the Consultative Task Force for Reconciliation, adult consensual same sex relationships continue to be criminalised in Sri Lanka.

Though there have been no prosecutions under the Penal Code, the misapplication and abuse of these Sections by State officials have been widely documented. Criminalisation also prevents LBT persons from accessing protection and justice for violence and discrimination perpetrated by public and private actors.  And they continue to be excluded from State policies.

Violence / Access to justice
On the issue of violence against women, we wish to highlight impunity as a continuum from war related sexual violence to all forms of sexual and gender based violence. E.g. Approximately 1,400 rape complaints result in 0 to 7 convictions per year (2009-2014).

Rape attrition must be addressed including through reform of the prevailing two-tier system of non-summary inquiries at Magistrates Courts and summary inquiries at High Court. No measures have been taken to address suspended sentencing for rape, criminalizing of marital rape and backlog of rape cases. Protections available under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act are being undermined by conservative judicial interpretations.

Tamil speaking women face discriminatory practices including language barriers and stereotyping when they access justice, due to lack of Tamil speaking officers in courts, police stations and hospitals.   

Female Heads of Households
One in four households are female headed, a significant proportion of which are war affected. The Government of Sri Lanka has no official definition for this category, which results in their exclusion from welfare, resettlement and other policies and programmes.

War Affected Women
Despite various structures and policies by the State, war affected women continue to be marginalized, neglected and vulnerable, particularly female heads of households (approximately 90,000) in the North and East.

Militarization:Militarization and the breakdown of the rule of law has impacted women’s security, impeded access to livelihoods, land, including traditional use of common land, housing, and other resettlement assistance in the post-war context. The military continues to be engaged in civil administration, agriculture and tourism. Military run farms impedes women’s livelihoods.

Displacement: A significant proportion of the displaced include women. Military occupied land must be returnedto original owners, including to female heads of households.  Landless women must be allocated state land.  

Livelihoods: State policies on livelihoods emphasise small and medium enterprise and micro credit and have not considered the creation of formal secure employment.

Violence: Evidence indicates that the armed forces, police and other armed actors perpetrate sexual violence against women. Women are also subjected to sexual exploitation and sexual bribery by government officials when accessing services. These cases are invisible, not investigated, prosecuted and punished. There is inadequate state provision of professional counseling, medical, psychosocial and rehabilitation services to women.

Transitional Justice: Transitional justice mechanisms, reconciliation and peacebuilding initiatives must be inclusive processes, gender-sensitive, and responsive to women’s wartime experiences.

There must be clear guidelines to provide gender sensitive reparations to women survivors of war including for economic losses, loss of livelihoods, and sexual violence.

Female Ex-combatants:Female ex-combatants face difficulties reintegrating into their communities. They continue to be under surveillance by the army; they are labeled as “rehabilitated” and marginalized from employment and access to services. There is no recognition of their skills and capabilities gained during the war.

Health vulnerabilities exist for women, including those affected by conflict, plantation workers, sex workers and LBT women who are denied access to adequate services.  Comprehensive sexuality education is required to prevent early pregnancies, and abortion needs to be decriminalised.

Gender Machinery
We end with the issue of gender machinery, which remains weak and marginal in national policy formulation. This must be strengthened with rights based legislation to appoint a well-resourced, independent National Commission on Women, unfettered by State institutions and partisan politics. The Commission must be appointed by the Constitutional Council as have other Independent Commissions such as those for Human Rights and Police.  All Independent Commissions must be gender inclusive.

The current strategy is to adopt a plethora of National Action Plans, which remain in the main unimplemented. Therefore, to achieve policy coherence, adequate financing and implementation we require a single comprehensive National Action Plan for women that is rights-based and fully protected. For example the current National Action Plan on Human Rights was amended to remove a provision to decriminalise homosexuality. 

Thank you Madam for your attention to this joint submission.



WOMEN’S ACTION FOR CEDAW: (SRI LANKA REVIEW 2017) EQUAL GROUND, FOKUS WOMEN, Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR), Muslim Personal Law Reforms Action Group (MPLRAG), National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO), Viluthu Centre for Human Resource Development, Women’s Action Network (WAN) and Women and Media Collective (WMC).

Contributing activists: AnushaniAlagarajah, ChandrakanthiAbeykoon, Shyamala Gomez, Hyshyama Hamin, InthumathyHariharathamotharan, Chulani Kodikara, ThilinaMadiwela, ThiagiPiyadasa, NadeeraPriyadarshani, Rosanna Flamer-Caldera, ShreenSaroor and Kumudini Samuel.

Fisghiting against Injustices to Beach Seine Fishery in Ahungalle

Sindh Peoples Caravan March 1-14, 2017 Protect Our Rivers and Delta

Across the world the greed of capitalism has created water crises. Asia in general and South Asia in particular is no exception. This region is marred with complex and multidimensional aspects of water crises. Not only the brute availability of water has declined, but also the health of water bodies has been badly affected. A deep probe into the issue reveals that water crisis has been created by weak and deliberate mal-governance. Both wrong incentives and lack of penalties have led to major ecological disasters. These include deforestation, destruction of wetlands, dumping of industrial waste into waterways, construction of dams, overexploitation of the major river systems, corporate control on water resources and unplanned urbanization due to increasing population pressure.
All these issues pose serious threats to life and health of people and water systems of South Asian River Systems, including Indus river system. Our analysis reveals that anti-human and anti-environment policies have been applied and imposed in South Asia with the same rapacity as colonial powers did to impose control over citizens. Post-independence, growth policies have become excuses for privatization and in favor of corporate monopolies rather than protection of the commons for public welfare. Among regions around the world, South Asia is the second number in the construction of large dams. Pursuing neo-colonial control over natural resources, the ecological consequences have become hazardous to life and livelihood.
Our situation will inevitably worsen without cooperative trans-boundary water governance that goes beyond the Indus Waters Treaty. South Asian basins hydro-logically depend on China. The main river systems, the Indus, the Ganges and the Brahmaputra are all connected to the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) of China. The headwaters of all these rivers, except the main Ganga River, rise within a few hundred kilometres of each other, in the south western region of the Tibetan plateau. China has various ongoing designs of dam construction and hydropower plants. In November 2010, China officially confirmed the construction of the 510MW Zangmu hydropower project at Gyaca County in the Shannan Prefecture of TAR. Reportedly, five other dams are under consideration on the river and its tributaries. Similarly India has many such plans.
Transboundary governance must also be informed by the deadly nature of coal plants. No nation in the region can become better in isolation. Banning all coal power plants on rivers and on coast in Pakistan will still bring suffering for Pakistan if other South Asian countries continue with their deadly plans for massive expansion of coal energy. The impacts will not be limited directly through shared oceans and river basins. Indirectly but substantial adverse impacts will be unavoidable through the production of acid rain from coal pollution. Furthermore, any increase in global warming will affect Pakistan when other countries in the region including China expand carbon emissions in rising fossil fuel consumption, and by methane emissions in additional storage dams.
The World Bank President must be listened to very seriously in his warning, “if the entire (Asian) region implements the coal-based plans right now, I think we are finished. That would spell disaster for us and our planet.”

In Context of Pakistan and especially Sindh province, among the multiple water issues, drastic decrease of water (and enriching silt) for the Indus Delta downstream of Kotri Barrage is an intolerable fact.  Continuing with various plans of dams and diversions on Indus River by our national government as well as neighboring countries is a continuing assault on the ecology of the Indus Basin. We must recognize it as a threat of the highest order, even when producing hydropower is the defense.
In continuation with the PFF’s yearly campaign for the restoration for River Indus and Indus Delta, the PFF has decided to organize Sindh Awami Caravan in the form of a 14-Day long campaign that will start from March 1, 2017 and will culminate on March 14, 2017 in the form of a massive people’s assembly that will be participated by thousands of peoples fishing and peasant communities, civil society members, academia, government officials, media and other stakeholders. The 2017 Sindh Awami Caravan will be carried out under the theme; Protection of our rivers and delta. Taking into consideration the aims and objectives of the Caravan, the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum has planned to highlight the restoration of rivers in general in the River Indus in particular, the fresh water flow of 35 MAF Kotri downstream, the protection of Indus Delta and provision of fresh water in all the inland fresh water natural lakes.  The PFF demands that the natural flow of rivers especially River Indus be restored.
In order to ensure the success of Sindh Awami Caravan for the restoration of Rivers and Delta, an awareness campaign has been carried out from February 11 to February 28, 2017. 
The PFF believes that by the building dams and barrages, the government has diverted the natural flow of the River Indus, destroyed the rivers’ ecology, displaced the helpless people whose livelihood depended on the river, destroyed the bio-diversity of the Indus Delta in the name of national interest and sustainable development. Therefore the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum denounces all the destructive and coercive polices that have brought about such destruction to the people of Pakistan.
The PFF strongly feels that there is dire need that the River Indus must be restored so that the River flow from start to tail end following the natural consistent flow and that the biodiversity and ecology of the River Indus, the people and their livelihood is restored.
The Vision 2025 of Pakistan clearly indicates that the existing flow of water of rivers will be diverted through building various mega schemes for water conservation for energy and agricultural purposes. Such decisions and policies based on vested political interests will further aggravate the socio-economic conditions of the voiceless deltaic communities of the Sindh.
A large water share of the River Indus utilized for the agricultural and human consumption of Punjab Province. Resultantly, the lower end of the River Indus that used to be termed as the “Mighty River Indus” has been reduced to the level of canal shows only tiny inconsistent storage of water. Such a massive destruction of the River Indus has led to the death of livelihood of the deltaic people. These people have depended on fishing and the River are compelled to cut wood for earning some money and buy drinking using their earnings. What a pity it is see the people who are entitled to the basic right of water but are denied their rights.
The Pakistan government has been planning to build more dams on Indus River. The PFF believes that the indigenous people along with the other natural habitat have the basic right to use the land and water first.  Therefore the water must not be deemed as a private property such privatized of water must not be done in the form buying selling it at the expense of the poor deltaic communities. Water is globally basic human right therefore safeguarding water is a responsibility of all.  For an analysis of water being unsafe, we will have to highlight the scarcity of water in national, regional and global contexts. Generating a strong political movement for the protection of water and rivers is the need of the hour so that environment and the livelihood of the poor masses could be save and that the commercial use of water is stopped. Rivers throughout the world are being diverted through massive dam and barrage building. The anatomy of the rivers is being deformed as the silt and the rivers are being enslaved within dams. Resultantly the most beautiful and large deltas are being eliminated the world over.
It is worth mentioning how the Indus has been exploited through man-made political maneuvers. The Indus Delta is a prominent part of the anatomy of the river Indus created through its rich silt and soil. The River Indus carrying a silt of 400 million tons along with 180 MAF of water

Specific Objectives of this Campaign are:

  • To raise awareness among the communities about their water rights and responsibility
  • To strongly demand from IRSA for reserving at least 35 MAF water downstream of Kotri for regeneration of Indus Delta
  • To explore the factors damaging health of water bodies and rivers and therefore diminish life and livelihood of indigenous people
  • To extend strong voice for improved water governance and environment flows of rivers
  • To sensitize people for no more dams, no more diversions and no more cuts on Indus River in future

South Asia is the world’s second largest dam building region and the States have brought about destruction and disasters for the under-privileged communities. This has degraded the rivers’ ecology to the extent that the redressing the balance has become an uphill task. Following the footsteps of the same anti-people and environmentally destructive policies, Pakistan has also destroyed the life of the River Indus through the construction of dams and barrages and has displaced the indigenous people leading to the destruction of Indus Delta the consistent human rights violations.   

The PFF believes that this must be resisted at any cost. The caravan in the light of the highlighted above is let the suppressed one generate a movement from among themselves so that they can have control of their indigenous rights and entitlements to land and water and their socio-economic, cultural and political rights are safeguarded.

Co-authored By: Muhammad Ali Shah, Dr. Aly Ercelan & Roshan Bhatti

Burning Memories in Colombo

Film Director, Actor, Dharmasiri Bandaranayake shared this important information with us. Monday, the 13th there will be a documentary film screened at Tharanganee theatre.

Police harassment vs PAMALAKAYA members in Quezon continues

PAMALAKAYA is a member organization of WFFP in the Philippines.
We are in Solidarity with our Comrades in Philippines in this difficult situations.
Herman Kumara, NAFSO, Sri Lanka

Sariaya, Quezon – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas(PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Wednesday decried the recent harassment committed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) under the Quezon Provincial Public Safety Company (PPSC) against the fisherfolk in the coastal barangays of Sariaya, Quezon.

According to Ara Marcellana, PAMALAKAYA organizer and regional coordinator in Southern Tagalog, the first harassment, dubbed by the PNP as ‘operation strike’ occurred on February 18 where 10 elements of the PNP in a full battle gear rummaged Brgy. Guisguis Talon to search for her and her two other colleagues. Marcellana said they are being accused by the PNP of being members of the communist-New People’s Army (NPA). The PNP interrogated the fisherfolk in the area on the whereabouts of the organizers, they even threatened the fishers not to entertain the organizers or else they will also get arrested.

The same thing happened on March 5 where 12 PNP returned to the same coastal barangay and accused the fisherfolk and other coastal residents that they are accepting and accommodating NPA members in their community. The fisherfolk denied the allegations, saying they are members of PAMALAKAYA and the organizers are helping them on their local issue which is the planned conversion of their coastal community into a coal-fired thermal power plant of the San Miguel Corp. (SMC) Global Power Holdings Inc.

In a statement, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson Fernando Hicap assailed the PNP for the harassment and threat they commit to the fishers and its organizers.

The PNP has been deliberately disrupting the legitimate organizing activities of our local chapter in Quezon in order to sow fear to the fishing community and stop their objection on the proposed coal-fired thermal power plant project. We reiterate our claim that Marcellana, her two other colleagues and the fisherfolk in Sariaya are all legitimate members and organizers of PAMALAKAYA and not connected to any armed-rebel group contrary to the PNP’s accusation,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.

PAMALAKAYA said the attacks of the state forces against unarmed activists have intensify after President Rodrigo Duterte terminated the peace talks between his government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) accompanied with an all-out-war declaration versus the communist rebels. But the fisherfolk lamented that the real target of government’s total war is not the armed rebels in the mountains but the unarmed members of progressive and mass organizations like PAMALAKAYA.

How ironic that those who are fighting for the rights and welfare of the marginalized people are being tagged as members of the NPA, while the PNP that has the slogan of ‘to serve and protect’ is the one who suppresses and deprives those freedom fighters of their right to organize and to uphold the people’s basic rights,”

We reiterate our call to President Rodrigo Duterte to suspend the all-out-war and return to the peace negotiating table with the NDFP because the only target of the government’s unjust total war is the unarmed civilians and activists,” Hicap ended. 

PAMALAKAYA will hold a dialogue with Sariaya Muncipal Mayor Marcelo Gayeta on Friday to demand an investigation of the harassment and ensure the safety of the fisherfolk and organizers. ###

For reference:
Ara Marcellana, Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog Coordinator – 0912-123-2628
Fernando Hicap, Pamalakaya Chairperson – 0919-351-0888

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