NOTE: Useful clarifications on the events.
EXTRACTS: Leaders of the MST, including Keno, had been threatened for the past six months by militiamen who worked for the SRO/MPR/Syngenta consortium. An investigation has been opened in order to speed [up] the denunciations against Syngenta and NF Security.
The peasants continue with their struggle to transform Syngenta's illegal GMO testing area into an Agroecology Center for the reproduction of native seeds for family farmers and for agrarian reform.
Armed Militia Attacks Via Campesina Encampment and Kills Activist
There were no hostages at the site, to the contrary of reports by the Globo News Network.
PRESS RELEASE from VIA CAMPESINA
Yesterday (October 21), at 1:30 p.m., a Via Campesina encampment located at Syngenta's experimental GMO farm in Santa Tereza do Oeste (Parana), was attacked by an armed militia. During the massacre, an 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. Workers Gentil Couto Viera, Jonas Gomes de Queiroz, Domingos Barretos, Izabel Nascimento de Souza, and Hudson Cardin were seriously injured.
*Due to these events, Via Campesina makes the following clarifications:*
*1.* The reoccupation of the Syngenta area occurred at 6 a.m. yesterday (Oct. 21), by approximately 150 agricultural workers. During the action, the workers set off fireworks. At that time there were four security guards in the area. One of the security guard's guns was [fired], and it injured a worker, who was hospitalized. The workers disarmed the security guards, who then left the site. The guns were taken from them in order to be turned over to the police.
*2.* At 1:30 p.m., a bus stopped in front of the entrance gate and an armed militia of approximately 40 heavily armed gunmen got out, firing at the people in the encampment. They broke down the gate, killed activist Keno with two shots to the chest, shot five other workers, and severely beat Isabel do Nascimento de Souza, who remains in serious condition at the hospital.
*3.* The militia attacked the encampment in order to assassinate the leaders and recover the illegal firearms belonging to the NF Security company, which were taken by the workers. MST leaders Celso Barbosa and Celia Aparecida Lourenco were chased by the gunmen, but they were able to escape during the attack.
*4.* Syngenta was using the services 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 agrobusiness.
*5.* The report of the actions of armed militias in the Western region of Parana was reinforced during a public hearing last Thursday (Oct. 18), before the leadership of the Commission for Human and Minority Rights of the Federal Chamber of Congressional Representatives (CDHM), in Curitiba, Parana. Leaders of the MST, including Keno, had been threatened for the past six months by militiamen who worked for the SRO/MPR/Syngenta consortium. An investigation has been opened in order to speed along the denunciations against Syngenta and NF Security.
*6.* The Globo News Network has been maintaining in its reports that Via Campesina had kept hostages during its reoccupation. The versions given by Globo Network and other large media networks aim to criminalize the social movements and detract focus from the attack carried out by Syngenta's militia, which killed a worker and left others injured. Via Campesina clarifies that there were not, in any circumstance, hostages during the occupation.
*7.* Via Campesina demands the punishment of those responsible-primarily those who ordered these crimes-as well as the disbandment of armed militias in the region, and the immediate closure of the NF Security company. Beyond this, it demands assurance of the safety and protection of the lives of leaders Celso and Célia, and of all the workers from Via Campesina in the region.
*8.* The peasants continue with their struggle to transform Syngenta's illegal GMO testing area into an Agroecology Center for the reproduction of native seeds for family farmers and for agrarian reform.
*History *Syngenta's experimental farm has been occupied by peasants since March 2006 to bring attention to the illegal cultibation of GMO soy and corn seeds. The occupation caused the crimes of the transnational to be known throughout the world. After 16 months of resistance, on July 18th of this year, 70 families left the area, relocating to a temporary site at the Olga BenÃ¡rio settlement, also in Santa Tereza do Oeste (ParanÃ¡).
*VIA CAMPESINA*Information and press: (41) 3324 7000/84119794-Solange /(41)96765239 -Jakeline