Farmers and land reform advocates to bring “Peasant Lives Matter” protest art installation to #SONAgKAISA

A protest art entitled “Peasant Lives Matter” will be carried by farmers and land reform advocates led by Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and Anakpawis Partylist in tomorrow’s SONA protest march to the University of the Philippines.

The mural was designed and constructed by artists and young cultural workers from the Sama-samang Artisa Para sa Kilusang Agraryo (SAKA).

“Peasant Lives Matter” directly references a 2019 set of protest placards done by the Black Lives Matter movement, bearing the eyes of police brutality victim Eric Garner. In the spirit of international solidarity, we link the peasant struggle with black liberation in our common fight against feudal land grabs and imperialist plunder all over the world,” according to Angelo Suarez of SAKA.

“For #SONAgKAISA, we have made a set of four big placards that, when put together side by side, form the eyes of peasant leader Jimmy Saypan, the first farmer victim of extrajudicial killing under the Duterte administration.

Saypan, a staunch anti-mining advocate and a leader of the Compostela Farmers Association (CFA-KMP), was shot by armed assailants believed to be from the 65th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army on October 10, 2016.

“The main message of this protest art is that the lives of Filipino farmers matter. They are not just numbers or statistics in the growing list of victims of political killings and state-sponsored abuses. Those who were brutally killed under the Duterte administration are fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, and our fellow Filipinos. The life they lived and the injustices that befell them must matter to us. This mural is a tribute and a reminder that their gruesome deaths in the hands of state forces deserve justice and retribution,” says Danilo Ramos, chairperson of KMP.

Peasant human rights watchdog Tanggol Magsasaka has documented 262 victims of extrajudicial killings of farmers, rural women, fisherfolk, and indigenous people since July 2016.

Majority of the victims were active leaders and members of farmers organizations that are engaged in local struggles to resist land grabbing and militarization in rural areas.

“This regime does not care whether there’s a pandemic or not. Even before the approval of the Duterte Terror Law, armed state agents have been hunting down peasant leaders at the helm of the struggle for land and justice,” Suarez added.

Despite threats from the DILG and the PNP, farmers’ groups will march to the University of the Philippines and join the broad #SONAgKAISA protest program tomorrow.