Criminalization of struggle for a sustainable agricultural system

February 12, 2013. Source: Field Liberation Movement

patateToday the court of Dendermonde convicted 11 activists of gang formation. In doing so, the judge has criminalised their participation in the non violent  direct action and debate on May 29th, 2011, which brought attention to the need for a  sustainable agriculture system.

This is an extremely dangerous precedent which will have an impact on all kinds of civil action. With this verdict, the Belgian court  has fundamentally undermined the right of citizens to freedom of speech. For example, one of the participants has been given a six month custodial sentence for talking to the press.

After it became known that the anti-GM activists were to be charged with forming a criminal gang, a large number of people from the environmental and agricultural sectors, academics and politicians rallied behind the defendants and put themselves forward to join them in the dock as voluntary defendants. A number of organisations ranging from trade unions to farmers’ organisations, and including Oxfam and Greenpeace, expressed their solidarity with the charged activists. Today’s ruling will further strengthen this solidarity.

“This is absurd,” said Tjerk Dalhuisen, a Dutch defendant. “If the Belgian justice system thinks that this is the way to keep us quiet, then they’re wrong. We shall continue in our struggle for sustainable agriculture without genetic manipulation and without pesticides. We do not want to be guinea pigs in industries’ experiments and we will continue to make our voices heard.”

Marie Smekens, a young farmer and one of the eleven defendants, added: “The sentences are completely disproportionate. It is clear that this trial was designed to muzzle all forms of future protest.”

The defendants are appealling against the ridiculous verdict and demanding a retrial which respects their legal right to a appropriate defence in court.

On January 15th, the defendants and their lawyers left the court room and the trial after the judge had refused to hear their witnesses or consider their evidence. These testimonies formed an important part of the defences’ case as they emphasised the political nature of the action. The judge also refused to acknowledge the voluntary defendants.

The action on May 29th in Wetteren was carried out in order to draw attention to the major problems with and consequences resulting from the introduction of GMOs into agriculture and food chains.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Commodification of Life, Food Sovereignty, Genetic Engineering

0 Responses to Criminalization of struggle for a sustainable agricultural system

  1. Uma

    The whole fact that common citizens should have to defend their basic human rights, and those of nature, mainly to object to and to be free of poisoning, and chemicals via GMO’s and pesticide industry, is the real problem. The criminalization, the actual ones who are committing public harm, belongs with those who are perpetrating the violations, those who are forcing their own private agendas onto the general population, against their will, and without any regard for human safety and health. Flip the argument! File your lawsuits against the companies who are promoting and engaging in destructive agricultural practices, and start firing and impeaching your dirty politicians and judicial members, who work against their own constituents.Demand their resignations and replace them with people who have public health and safety first and foremost in their hearts and minds and who can not be bought or swayed by corporate pressure and influence. This whole issue suggests insanity..WHO has the right to poison our earth at the expense of All? Who’s rights are primary? Does not the earth beneath our feet and nature also have a right, not to be desecrated,dominated, and abused by ignorant human beings? That is the real question to put to your judge.. WHO has been given absolute authority over the food supply? Over farming legalities? When do laws end and human consciousness and awareness begin? What “right” does the government, who are only elected officials, have to label and to define others, who make up a collective? Give us a break, Belgium!! What a shameful way to treat your own people!! It is obvious that your focus would be better served to look at WHO and WHAT is causing the damage to Land and people and life here! Strip corporations of any “rights’ that keep them shaded and buffered from scrutiny and accountability. It is the very individuals and PEOPLE who own and operate them, who are the responsible parties here..point them out! Public debate (The people who gathered to promote and educate about the very real dangers of GMO’s and corporate monopoly of our food supply, and its abuses in order to prevent HARM and to promote a diversified living food system called sustainability). is not the same as enforced or mandatory use and abuse..( Monsanto has criminalized the game of agriculture and are the real gang). Define and determine what constitutes a “gang” there has to be motive, underlying intent. One is to educate and inform, the other side, Monsanto, is self-serving and wants to monopolize the industry via corporate patents and misuse of laws to control. Turn the argument over, and show proof that Monsanto actually acts like a “gang” mentality, meaning..abusing and overpowering the wills of others, by force, threats or intimidation and coercion.
    Start holding them accountable and put them out of business, by withdrawing all and any money and support for their companies and shareholders! Wake up Belgium, it looks like the wolves are trying to take over your legal system, to serve their own dirty self-interests, at your and your peoples expense! You can bet that there are Monsanto stakeholders behind this legal battle, who are either fueling it or funding it.. so who do they know or control in the judicial and legal system there? There is someone in bed with Monsanto, look and you will find them!

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