Islamabad (AsiaNews) - A Pakistani farmer of 35 was executed by a firing squad because he claimed the right to ownership of land, confiscated 15 years ago by the army of the former General Pervez Musharraf. The man's name was Razzaq and he was the father of six daughters.
He was kidnapped while he was sleeping in his home in the village of Nolana (in Okara district, Punjab province), conducted in front of the wall of the girls' school of the village government and shot dead. The attackers did not stop even in the face of desperate cries of his wife, who begged for mercy for the father of her children.
Badrul Nisa, a farmer who lives in a nearby village, told AsiaNews that Razzaq had received death threats, as well as his father and brother, who were both murdered. His murder took place on October 13 at around 3 am (local time), but only at 10 were the residents of the community able to bring the body of the deceased to the hospital in Okara to perform an autopsy. The authorities at first opposed the return of the body. After animated protests, they released him at around 5 pm.
Violence against small landowners began in 2000, when General Musharraf (then Chief of Staff of the armed forces) asked farmers to abandon their status as independent farmers and become contract workers under the military, who took possession of their land. The tenants rejected this proposal, they refused to share profit with the military farms administration and instead to pay the tenancy cost to the Punjab revenue department.
Since that time, the army confiscated land arbitrarily, giving rise to the so-called "land mafia", ie a system of criminal collusion between local authorities and wealthy landowners who seize the agricultural areas by force. Since then 14 peasants were killed, several others wounded and arrested, including Catholic activists who defended their rights. In 2000 a movement of landless tenants of Punjab was founded (AMP, Anjuman Muzareen Punjab), which now has 1 million members.
Badrul Nisa is also a victim of the violence in 2005, police attacked her village and has fractured his right shoulder and a knee. He was medicated with 17 stitches in his head. Yesterday she attended a seminar entitled "Farmland, feudalism and food sovereignty", held in a hotel in Lahore by Pakistan Kisan Rabita (Farmer Communication) Committee and the Alliance for the eradication of poverty in South Asia.
The speakers called for justice for the murdered tenants- like Razzaq - demanding the restitution of lands and farms confiscated by the armed forces. The Pakistan army in fact claim ownership of six farms that stretch for 68 thousand acres in the Okara district and that belonged to local farmers for over 100 years.
The Nepalese Balram Banskota, general secretary of the All Nepal Peasants, present at the seminar, harshly condemned the murder of Razzaq and called for "the end of all false cases against farmers in Okara and the release of those arrested."
"The sovereignty in food production – he said - must be inserted in the Constitution of Pakistan. We demand the end of the feudal system and that all the farms in the public sector be given in management to farmers. We must fight together to transform the global corporations that exploit the rights of poor farmers. "