2 of our own in Indonesian Youth Caravan to #endWTO

The Indonesian Youth Food Movement Youth Caravan departed Jakarta on 25th November from Jakarta with forty-five energetic participants, ready to campaign across Java for the end of the WTO and the Free Trade Regime. Among them were two international guests from South Asia, Pathak representing BKF and Savitha representing KRRS.

“I decided to participate in the caravan because I wanted to understand the peasant movements of Indonesia – their strategy for building strength and and what is the lifestyle of the peasants. I wanted to know how they are fighting for their rights.” Patak

“For me, I wanted to join in the Caravan so I could compare Indian movements with Indonesia, especially the youth movement. I was excited to learn how they actively oppose the agrarian crisis, and how the student unions work together with the farmer movements. I’m a unversity student, so I can bring the ideas from Indonesia back to our own Youth Movement – The Green Brigade.” Savitha

The first stop was Cirebon, where the Youth Caravaners met with local fisherfolk who are part of SNI- Serikat Nelayan Indonesia. They shared about the acute crisis they are facing because MNC fishing companies are able to overfish and still survive. Local fishers have to cope with the overfishing conditions by going far out into the ocean, and for those who can’t manage, they migrate to Thailand as fisherman or Saudi Arabia as domestic workers.

At the second stop, Semarang, an Youth Caravaners had an action in front of the government action. “It was a fruitful action – after the action, the government called the Youth Food Movement representatives to talk, and committed to supporting food sovereignty at a local level. They also plan to work against climate change (though within the limitations of the already-existing WTO agreements),” said Pathak.

Next was Solo, a provincial city, where a cultural event and street theatre was held in the middle of the road. “Women’s students participated and put forward drama and skits about food sovereignty. I took away a lot of inspiration for my university, we haven’t found anything like it in Karnataka,” said Savitha.

At Surabaya, both Savitha and Patak were able to share during the International Seminar on WTO at Veteran University. Savitha talked about the multiple crises of land grabbing, oil seed farmers, farmer suicides, women farmers, and the dairy sector, while Pathak spoke about the campaign to #endWTO and the alternatives such as food sovereignty, to an audience of over 200 people.

Last stop was Banyuwangi, a coastal town, where the Youth Caravan got to sleep on the beach in coconut leave houses. They met with the Baffel community who is fighting against the gold extraction since 1995. “The community faced violence from hired paramilitaries – some people were killed and the community still lives in fear. Not only did they lose their land to the gold mining industries, but also their peace of mind. Indigenous people especially suffered,” told Savitha.

“As a former organizer of the Bangladesh Climate Caravan, it was interesting to see a youth-oriented caravan. Our caravan is more farmer-oriented, but now we are interested involving student groups as well,” Pathak commented. “As a member of a student group and a researcher, I am inspired by the students unions in Indonesia. I hope to organize student groups in Karnataka as well that join with the farmers’ movement and to end the agrarian crisis and free trade regime,” Savitha concluded.

La Via Campesina thanks the Youth Food Movement for welcoming our representatives and for giving them a platform to share about the Indian and Bangladeshi context!