International Peasants’ Rights Day observed: Slavery continue even in 21st century, says report

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KARACHI (ENN) On the International Peasants Rights Day, Hari Welfare Association (HWA) and Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research jointly launched the report on the State of Peasants’ Rights in Sindh in 2018 at the local press club in Karachi.

On the occasion, various peasants and workers’ leaders spoke on the deplorable state of peasants rights in Sindh including Karamat Ai, Zulfiqar Shah, Akram Ali Khaskheli, Punhal Sario, Iqbal Ahmed Detho, Muhammad Ali Shah and Dr. Asho Thama; while Mahnaz Rehman, Legal Rights Forum’s Malik Tahir Iqbal, NTUF’s Nasir Mansoor, Manzoor Ahmed and others were part of the ceremony.

The report reveals that in 2018, peasants in Sindh did not hear good news from the government and legislative assembly of Sindh. Only the landlords had received more subsidies from the political economy of the agriculture sector. In April 2018, the Sindh Minister for Agriculture had announced the Sindh agriculture policy from 2018 to 2030 after its approval from the Sindh cabinet. The policy is least pro peasants’ rights rather an outcome of the corporate or business sector’s efforts to maximise profits on account of poor peasants.

The policy is made under the World Bank’s project for Sindh. It is introduced in to enable the environment in which the corporations could grab land and hold the right to sell and purchase seeds. The similar policies introduced under the World Bank’s projects in other parts of the world have created the worst results for poor peasants. The policy ignores the issue of large land holding and land reforms.

The policy considers that poverty is an outcome of the sharecropping system in Sindh where 56 per cent of the total land and about 60 per cent of all peasants are sharecroppers. It means the sharecropping is considered an issue but not the big landholding and non-implementation of the STA. In 2018, neither the Sindh Bonded Labour System Abolition System Act 2016 was implemented nor was amended to the law to protect the rights of peasants who are made bonded on false and illegal pretexts. In 2018, the STA was also neither implemented nor amended to improve and update it for the protection and betterment of peasants’ rights, which are beneficial for the larger society and eradication of poverty.

The report shows that agriculture is the only sector where slavery is prevalent in all kinds of forms; slavery in the name of debt, slavery in the name of the house, slavery in the name of no other land, slavery in the name of power and exploitation.

During 2018, 86 cases of bonded labourers’ release and escape from the captivity of the landlords were reported in local Sindhi and Urdu newspapers; of the total, only five were escaped news-cases. In all cases, 1421 bonded labourers were released and escaped, which include 485 women and 494 children.

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