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"Mukti-Paani*" Declaration of the 2nd SAARC Peoples' Forum

Kathmundu 18 - 21 December 2000

We, the peoples from South Asia region, where nearly one quarter of the world population lives, have gathered here in Kathmandu from 18 to 21 December to build solidarity between our people in order to collectively defend our (1) Rights to Livelihood and Food Sovereignty, (2) Rights of Movement and Personal Security and (3) Right for Self-determination. We are expressing our commitment to continue our struggle to achieve these goals and we are defending the same rights of all the people of the world whose rights are being systematically violated.

We deplore and denounce the way in which 'globalisation' is being imposed and pushed which indeed means globalisation of exploitation, violence, militarisation, destruction of our livelihood and communities, homogenisation of culture and above all consolidating the rule of the multinational corporations through Bretton Wood institutions like WTO, World Bank and IMF. While our rights to livelihood, movement and self-determination are being systematically violated the 'rights' of commodity, capital and multinational corporations are instead being established. This is not acceptable to us.

We are deeply concerned that our governments have written off their sovereignty over the economic sphere of the State and reduced the State into a policing agent in order to defend corporations and capital so that they can continue to accumulate and privatise world resources, exploit us and destroy our livelihoods. In the process people are being increasingly disposable and few rich are controlling the wealth of the world.  It is horrifying for us to realise that the word 'citizen' has lost all meaning and State has no power to defend and protect their citizens, except mediating exploitation and policing the people.

It is not acceptable to us that while movement of capital and commodities are ensured by the State the movement of the people is being controlled by armed border patrol, racist immigration policies of the northern countries and other coercive means. The movement of people is being curtailed in the name of controlling infectious diseases, particularly HIV/AID and by various moralising and patriarchal controls over the movement of women. State must be responsible to ensure secure and safe movements of all their citizens who seek livelihood options within or outside their countries.

We are very concerned and oppose proposed US Bill on trafficking to be placed before the Senate shortly. Through this racist and discriminatory bill United States of America will impose non-humanitarian sanctions against the countries of origin who are unable to control trafficking problem and thereby play a policing role which is absolutely undesirable. It will further refuse redress and assistance to trafficked women who are entering USA from selective places of origin. We denounce this bill as racist and discriminatory and are afraid that this will further deteriorate the situation of trafficked women who have already suffered violence. We also think it is a shame for USA that it is one of the two countries of the world that has not ratified CRC and CEDAW. It is a joke to us when US claims itself as champion of ''human rights". We deplore the fact that the real purpose of the US bill is to set up more stringent immigration control in order to make US boder more impermeable to undesirable immigrants as well as to penalise and criminalise them for entering USA for livelihood options.

We are deeply concerned about the people, particularly women and children, who are displaced from their homes and immediate environments and are increasingly thrown into insecure and vulnerable situation due to war and violence of the State. We refuse to accept the term ''refugee'' for these people because under this terminological guise the people are forced to go back to the same place of violence and States use this as a strategy to control their population.

We reject the idea that biotechnology and genetic engineering or any adventurous manipulation of genes, dictated by corporate profit and greed, can increase food production. Rather than demonstrating any positive promise genetic engineering is ensuring monopoly market of herbicides, chemicals and other patented products of the companies and increasing risks for health and biological pollution. Technology driven by the greed of corporate profit is eroding local and indigenous knowledge systems that has been historically proved to be efficient, sustainable, diverse and grounded on the collective community ethics and responsibility. To stop our communities from disintegration we demand that our science and technology policy is based on our historical knowledge, skill and ethics.

We reject any technology that is against our moral, ethical and cultural values but concentrate power and wealth in multinationals and accelerates economic disparity and social injustice. Adventurous genetic manipulation to control life, nature and economy is not acceptable to us. While our farmers are already producing surplus food and grains rotting in the storehouses it is bizarre and ridiculous to claim that we need biotechnology and genetic engineering for more food production. There are ample evidences that South Asia produces more food than the population growth rate in the region. With good planning ensuring access of the poor through efficient distribution policies, our region is absolutely capable to deal with the food and malnutrition problem. We demand that our governments pay full attention to distribution strategies based on co-operation and collective action. They should not be fooled by adventurous, unsustainable and risky technologies in order to solve the problem of hunger and malnutrition.

We, the peoples of the member countries of SAARC are deeply concerned about the failure of the political leaders of our countries to keep up with the objectives and spirit of SAARC as promised by the SAARC Charter. The SAARC leaders agreed during its inception that the primary objective of the association will be to improve the ''quality of life" of the peoples of the region irrespective of the difference in political systems, religion or culture in order to foster socio-economic co-operation. The Colombo Declaration of the 10th SAARC Summit clearly declares that Heads of State or Government will remain committed to ''promote mutual trust and understanding”. They have also recognised the fact that “the aim of promoting peace, stability and amity and accelerated socio-economic co-operation may best be achieved by fostering good neighbourly relations, relieving tensions and building confidence”. On the basis of such realisation and understanding they ‘agreed that a process of informal political consultations would prove useful” to resolve the differences, conflicts and tensions between them. The promise was to continue the SAARC Summits.  We feel that our leaders have betrayed the peoples of the region and failed to keep up with the promise and declaration they themselves formulated. We, the peoples of the South Asia region therefore demand that 10th SAARC Summit is held immediately and without any excuse.

We also like to reiterate that the excuse given for not holding the 11th SAARC summit is against SAARC Charter and spirit. Therefore, such excuses are not congenial for the spirit of co-operation, sense of unity and therefore are directly against the interest of the peoples of the region.

Against violent globalisation that has made us uprooted from our livelihood sources, and consequently made our body and soul into commodities in the market, we are committing ourselves to work for globalisation of human relation for collective prosperity based on equity, care, diversity and sustainability in order to enhance our capacity to end all forms of exploitation and violence.

OTHER DOCUMENTS

OPEN LETTER TO Mr. NAVINPATNAIK, CHIEF MINISTER, ORISSA, INDIA

[The recent incident of three tribals being shot dead by police at a firing in Maikanch of Rayagada District of Orissa state was discussed by the participants of the Second SAARC People's Forum, meeting in Kathmandu, Nepal, between 18th - 21st of December, 2000. The SAARC People's Forum members have come up with the following open letter, addressed to the Chief Minister of Orissa, Mr. Navin Patnaik, condemning the killing of three tribals in police firing, and on the issue of the tribals' democratic right to express their concern over mining in their area, which affects their livelihoods and environment.]

Dear Mr Chief Minister, Orissa

We, the participant of the Second SAARC People's Forum, representatives of NGOs, media and activist groups from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, condemn the killing of three tribals in police firing on 16th December 2000 in Maikanch, Rayagada District.

We feel greatly disturbed and distressed by the violence unleashed on genuine public protest by adivasis of Orissa in defence of their just and democratic rights.

Such open repression under the leadership of a young Chief Minister like you is extremely distressing. If you do not make immediate efforts to stop the victimisation of the tribal activists, the fair name that you have earned as a democratic and forward looking leader among civil society groups around the world would be lost forever.

The Second SAARC People's Forum therefore calls upon you to halt this savage repression immediately on the tribal activists and their supporters, and to allow them to exercise their democratic right of expressing concern over the effect of mining in their area on their lives, livelihoods and environment.

We also demand that a probe by a sitting high Court judge be instituted on genuine public protest by adivasis of Orissa in defence of their just and democratic rights.

Such open repression under the leadership of a young Chief Minister like you is extremely distressing. If you do not make immediate efforts to stop the victimisation of the tribal activists, the fair name that you have earned as a democratic and forward looking leader among civil society groups around the world would be lost forever.

The Second SAARC People's forum therefore calls upon you to halt this savage repression immediately on the tribal activists and their supporters, and to allow them to exercise their democratic right of expressing concern over the effect of mining in their area on their lives, livelihoods and environment.

We also demand that a probe by a sitting High Court judge be instituted immediately, so as to send a message to the police and bureaucracy that under your enlightened leadership such acts of brutality will not be tolerated.

Participants of the Second SAARC People's Forum

December 18th - 21st, Kathmandu, Nepal

DECLARATION IN SUPPORT OF Ms. RATNA GAMAGE, SRILANKA

by the Second SAARC People's Forum

"We, the participants of the Second SAARC People's Forum, representatives of NGOs media and activist groups from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and SriLanka, meeting in Kathmandu from December 18th - 21st 2000, express our strong support to, and solidarity with Ms Ratna Gamage, Chairperson of Movement for Protecting Local Resources [PLRS] in Sri Lanka.

Ms Gamage is on hunger protest campaign in front of the World Bank's Head Office in Washington, against Structural Adjustment Policies being pushed by the World Bank which affect the SriLanka tea industry. These policies mean that Indian tea is imported into Sri Lanka, for mixing and exporting. Due to this, the local tea industry is under serious threat.

Ms. Gamage is also protesting the mining of phosphate in Eppawale in Anuradhapura, where phosphate which could have lasted for 800 years in Sri Lanka, is going to be exhausted in just 30 years of mining, by the American Free Port Mc Moran, IMC Agrico, in collaboration with Torman Cooperation, Japan. This is blatant violation of the Supreme Court judgement in SriLanka against allotment of legal status to private sector entities to use/market natural resources in SriLanka. The SriLankan government is responsible for making arrangements to use the natural resources in SriLanka as per this, for protecting the interests of the citizens of the country.

On both these issues, the Second SAARC People's Forum endorses the PLRS's and Ms Ratna Gamage's position and expresses its solidarity with the issues".

Participants of the Second SAARC People's Forum

Kathmandu Nepal

* Literally, mukti means 'freedom' and paani means 'water'.

 


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