Boosting Performing Art Skills of Theatre Artistes working on Social Change

The PUKAR theatre group performing at a local village after the training on Interactive Theatre for Influencing in 2019.

Imam Uddin Soomro is an active member of the Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT), an alliance of small-scale and landless farmers including women farmers. Imam collects data on crops and conducts awareness sessions for farmers on sustainable agriculture, green revolution and globalization. As a member of a local theatre group named, PUKAR, since 2018, Imam also performs as an interactive theatre artiste in rural villages, organises learning events and writes articles on agriculture and farmers’ rights in local languages.

The PKMT was formed in 2008 as a result of a series of discussions among powerless farmers and social and political activists who felt that an organised platform to voice their demands was essential for small-scale farmers facing social and economic constraints.

“We perform plays that enable us to interact with different communities. The theatre plays address issues that are part of the PKMT struggle, including feudalism and the impact of corporate agriculture. As a theater performer, I was selected as a participant in a training tilted, Interactive Theater for Influencing, in July 2019. The training provided technical knowledge and capacity building opportunities on skills required to influence communities to bring about progress in the society. Our skills of script-writing, communications and character-building were further enhanced in the seven-day residential training.” said Imam.

All seven members of the PUKAR theater group participated in the training which gave them networking and experience- sharing opportunities with other like-minded participants. The session on ‘team building’ and ‘inhibition breaking’ helped participants self-assess themselves and understand their pivotal and influential position in society. Participants learnt about stage directions, allowing the audience to grasp every performers’ act and the message they are conveying through their role plays.

“We met with other theater groups from Peshawar, Sindh and Islamabad. All the groups had different interactive skills to perform as we all engage with different kinds of audiences. The members of other groups shared the issues they highlighted through their plays and how they passed on the resolutions,” shared Imam.

On the last day of the training, participants developed action plans to further implement the learning and skills learnt during the training.

“Initially, we would randomly select issues and base our plays on those issues. After the training, we altered our strategy. We now plan a meeting to identify the common issues that are prevalent in the communities through meetings with community members and develop a script for the play accordingly to work together to rectify the challenges people are facing. CWSA has extended support in reviewing the scripts which we plan to avail,” expressed Imam.

A group exercise that engaged the training participants in planning a theater play with other members of the group allowed collaborative learning and practical experience-sharing through coordination among the members. Imam narrated,

“When we acted with other theater performers, we learnt to show strong facial expressions as that also largely impacts the deliverance of the message and not just the dialogues. This joint exercise helped in modifying our acting and delivery gestures in order to have an even stronger impact in the communities we perform.”

Boosting Performing Art Skills of Theatre Artistes working on Social Change

کورونا کا سبق: سرمایہ داری کا خاتمہ لازم

یکم مئی: مزدوروں کا عالمی دن
پریس ریلز
یکم مئی 2020

دنیا بھر میں یکم مئی، 1886 میں شکاگو کے مزدوروں کی جدوجہد کی یاد میں مزدوروں کے عالمی دن کے طور پر منایا جاتا ہے۔ پاکستان کسان مزدور تحریک (پی کے ایم ٹی) اور روٹس فار ایکوٹی نے لاک ڈاؤن کی پابندیوں کے پیش نظر اس دن کی مناسبت سے جدوجہد کو آگے بڑھانے کے لیے ایک آن لائن مزاکرہ کا اہتمام کیا۔ جس میں ملک بھر سے مزدور کسان رہنماؤں اور کسان دوست ساتھیوں نے شرکت کی۔

کورونا وائرس کی موجودہ وبائی صورتحال نے ناصرف سرمایہ دارانہ نظام کی نااہلی اور سفاکیت کو بے نقاب کیا ہے جو بھوک، غربت اور وبائی صورتحال میں بھی خود کو برقرار رکھنے کے لیے عوامی فلاح پر منافع کو فوقیت دے رہا ہے بلکہ سامراجیت پر مبنی مزدور دشمن پالیسیوں کے بھیانک اثرات کو بھی مزید واضح کررہا ہے۔ آزاد تجارت پر مبنی پالیسیوں نے ریاستوں کو اس حال میں لاکھڑا کیا ہے کہ وہ اس وباء کو روکنے اور عوامی ضروریات پوری کرنے کے لیے درکار مالی، مادی اور انسانی وسائل کے لیے اپنا اختیار استعمال کرنے سے بھی قاصر ہیں۔ یاد رہے پاکستان جیسے ممالک میں صحت عامہ کے لیے مختص کیا گیا بجٹ کبھی بھی مجموعی بجٹ کا تین فیصد سے زیادہ نہیں رکھا گیا اور صحت کے شعبہ کو مجموعی طور پر نجی شعبہ کے حوالے کردیا گیا اور آج ہمارے صحت کے نظام کی انتہائی ناقص سہولیات اور بدانتظامی بے نقاب ہورہی ہے۔ دولت مند آمر طبقہ تو بچ کر نکل ہی جائے گا لیکن یہ صورتحال مزدور و محنت کش طبقہ کے لیے بدترین ہے۔ Continue reading

Landless Farmers Day marked: ‘Lockdown and quarantines should not increase people’s sufferings’

Our Correspondent
March 31, 2020

SUKKUR: Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) and Roots for Equity, a local NGO, joined hands with the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC), and Pesticide Action Network Asia & the Pacific (PANAP) to mark the Landless Farmers Day.

PKMT celebrated the Landless Farmers Day with utmost concern as landless farmers were among the most vulnerable to be affected with the COVID-19 pandemic. More and more, the farmers are forced to work in an informal sector on daily wages in a vulnerable condition bearing the heat of health crisis, especially of COVID-19. The experts said COVID-19 has paralysed almost all economic activities and pushed the world to further food insecurity and poverty.

They said many countries had implemented lockdowns and set up quarantine centres for coronavirus suspects to minimise the impact of COVID-19, adding that the agriculture and food supply chain had been facing great disruption causing escalation in food prices.They suggested the lockdown and quarantines should not be carried out to increase people’s sufferings like food scarcity and provision of other basic essentials. They said it should be ensured that there was no further displacement of rural people from their lands on the pretext of COVID-19 or lockdown, demanded to provide sufficient resources to the people living in the rural areas.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/637279-landless-farmers-day-marked-lockdown-and-quarantines-should-not-increase-people-s-sufferings

Govt urged to protect rights of small farmers

March 30, 2020

They asked the government to provide immediate economic relief to the marginalised sectors including the landless rural people.

To mark the “Day of the Landless” on Sunday, two organisations Roots for Equity and Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT), asked the government to ensure that no further displacements of the rural people from their lands and livelihood were carried out in the pretext of Covid-19 lockdowns.

The organisatons state that they commemorate the Day of the Landless with utmost concern as the landless rural people are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Organisations say landless rural people vulnerable to impacts of Covid-19 pandemic

In a media release, they state that with many countries implementing sweeping lockdowns and quarantines often with vague operational guidelines, to contain the spread of Covid-19, the agriculture and food supply chain faces great disruption with an escalating price-hike already sending food prices to very high levels.

They say that landless peasants along with small farmers are forced to work in a variety of oppressive conditions on lands under feudal ownership.

“Women growers particularly work under double tier of exploitation at the hands of landlord as well as patriarchy. Along with this, capitalist agriculture through its mega corporations has captured agricultural production and markets resulting in a huge increase in the percentages of the landless,” they say.

They claim that the landless workers are forced to work in the informal sector on daily wages in a variety of situations. “Together with the rest of ordinary toiling people, they bear the brunt of the raging public health crisis of Covid-19 that has paralysed almost all economic activities and pushed them to further food insecurity and poverty,” they maintain.

They say that livelihoods in jeopardy the small producers and poor consumers are suffering the major brunt of the lockdown. They add that in addition, with total ban on inter and intra-provincial travel, agriculture workers and other daily wagers have no means of finding work.

They fear that the Covid-19 may be used as cover up to further harass and dislocate farming communities as part of evictions under land grabbing for corporate interests.

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2020

https://www.dawn.com/news/1544871/govt-urged-to-protect-rights-of-small-farmers

Assert and Defend the Rights of Small and Landless farmers amid the COVID-19 pandemic!

Press Release:

Day of the Landless 2020, March 29, 2020

Roots for Equity and Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) join hand with Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) and Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP) to mark the Day of the Landless March 29, 2020.

Today, we commemorate the Day of the Landless with utmost concern as the landless rural people are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The landless peasants along with who are also the small farmers with precarious land ownership or control are forced to work in a variety of oppressive conditions on lands under feudal ownership. Women agricultural are particularly work under the double tier of exploitation at the hands of the landlord as well as patriarchy. Along with this, capitalist agriculture through its mega-corporations has captured agricultural production and markets resulting in a huge increase in the percentages of the landless. More and more, the landless are forced to work in the informal sector on daily wages in a variety of situations. Together with the rest of ordinary toiling people, they bear the brunt of the raging public health crisis of COVID-19 that has paralyzed almost all economic activities and pushed them to further food insecurity and poverty.

With many countries implementing sweeping lockdowns and quarantines often with vague operational guidelines, to contain the spread of COVID-19, the agriculture and food supply chain faces great disruption with an escalating price-hike already sending food prices to very high levels. Livelihoods in jeopardy the small producers and poor consumers are suffering the major brunt of the lockdown. In addition, with a total ban on inter and intra provincial travel, agriculture workers and other daily wage earners have no means of finding work. It is feared that the COVID-19 may be used as a cover-up to further harass, and dislocate farming communities as part of evictions under land grabbing for corporate interests.

Furthermore, public health systems, eroded by decades of neoliberal assault such as privatization, commercialization and budget cuts, are already weak in general and are susceptible to collapse when pandemics strike. In Pakistan, the health care budget has never exceeded 3% of the total budget allocations. Hence, the situation has magnified a hundredfold for rural communities especially the landless.

We support and reiterate the immediate demands of the landless and all toiling peoples amid the pandemic –

  1. Ensure that the lockdowns and quarantines are not carried out at the expense of the food security of the people and that the right to produce and earn a living for small farmers, fishers and other direct food producers is duly respected in a manner that does not endanger their health;
  2. Provide immediate and substantial economic relief (including food grains, cash, and other forms of aid that are essential and appropriate) and social protection that are readily accessible to the marginalized sectors, including the landless rural people, as well as other forms of government assistance such as production and marketing support for the small food producers;
  3. Ensure that no further displacements of the rural people from their lands and livelihood are carried out in the pretext of COVID-19 lockdowns;
  4. Allot sufficient public resources to the health sector and make reliable public healthcare services, including free testing for COVID-19 infection and treatment, available without delay or difficulty for everyone, including the rural communities;
  5. As a learning, the health budget should be based on building a robust public healthcare system that is capable of functioning with equity and efficiency in face of all health crises.

Amidst the spreading darkness and misery due to a pandemic caused by more than anything else an ecologically and socially destructive mode of capitalist production, the movement of landless rural people and their supporters, together with all oppressed and exploited toiling peoples, shall remain among the bearers of light and hope.

Press Release; Urdu

Released by: Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) & Roots for Equity

PKMT Jazba Farmers’ Cooperative Awareness Program

PKMT Jazba Farmers’ Cooperative organized an awareness session program based on the Agroecology farming and sustainable agriculture on village level at different districts of Sindh, Punjab and KP. In Sindh district Tando Mohammad Khan, Shikarpur and Ghotki, in Punjab district Multan and in KP district Haripur and Lower Dir the session were organized.

The session begins with the introduction of the team and the farmers. The team asks different questions from the farmers like who cultivate the land and which sort of cultivation is going on nowadays?

 

The participants replied that nowadays, we are using artificial means of production, which had chemicals in it, and we use chemical fertilizer in cultivation. Different topics of production and consumption were discussed with the help of pictures.

Unhealthy Production: The participants were told about the unhealthy food production that how modern machinery and chemicals are introduced to increase the production for example, breeding of cows by using artificial means, increasing of milk and meat of animals, increasing chemical spray, fertilizer, use of hybrid seeds and genetically modified seeds. The participants agree that they use the chemicals and machinery which results increase in diseases and unemployment.

Unhealthy Consumption: The participants were told about the unhealthy food like big companies use artificial methods in the preparation of food and are enforced on us for example, Potato chips, burgers, pizzas and unbalanced diet. The participants said that the junk food made by the companies has no energy, the threat of diseases increases and the food is also expensive. Capitalism increases class system. The rich influence on poor just because of this system. The working class is deprived of basic needs of life like food and health; we should not use these things.

Healthy Production: The participants were shown opposite mechanical and artificial method of production. The natural and traditional ways of farming, which includes milking, traditional way of cultivating pure and healthy food. According to our history, we use traditional seeds and eat pure food and live in a clean environment for centuries. The capitalists now capture the markets enforced farmers and labors into poverty.

Healthy Consumption: The participants said that the food from companies are unhealthy, the bread, Saag (local spinach), Lassi, butter, pure ghee are healthy foods. We should promote our own things, which we get through natural means.

Poverty and hunger! Why ? The adopting of chemical methods and an increase in production, the participants said that hunger, poverty and unemployment is increasing day by day. Continue reading

Women’s Resistances for Rights

Press Release

March 8, 2020

Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) and Roots for Equity in collaboration with International Alliance for Women (IWA), Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development (APWLD) and Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PANAP) organized a women’s assembly in village Raees Baksh Lashari, district Tando Muhammad Khan, Sindh to celebrate the International Women’s Day. Women farmers and agriculture workers from various districts had participated in this Assembly.

Dr. Azra Talat Sayeed of Roots for Equity and Chairperson IWA highlighted the continuously negative spin in attaining basic rights in women lives, the escalation in the oppression and exploitation at the national and international levels: all due to the increasing grip of capitalism through neoliberal policies. Profit-seeking capitalist forces have introduced modern technology in food and agriculture sector which pave the way in increasing landlessness, gender discrimination, violence, hunger and poverty in Pakistan and other third world countries.

In Pakistan, women particularly women agricultural workers faces different kind of exploitation under feudalism and capitalism. Agricultural women workers not only face economic and gender discrimination but also face mental and physical violence, illiteracy among others. In the past years sugarcane production has wiped out cotton production, which had still provided an income for women, though it had dire impacts on the environment and women’s health as well as all living things. The need for skilled trained women may be the reason that the generally feudal-minded Sindh Government has passed the Sindh Women Agriculture Workers Bill. There is no doubt that if women ware incorporated in the planned special economic zones, they will face further exploitation and feudalism in a highly feudal society.

While detailing imperialist policies in the Dairy sector PKMT member Pathani and an activist Ms. Ayman Baber highlighted the impacts on women. After corporate capture of seeds, the WTO’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) agreement being implemented through the Pure Food Laws which will lead to control of the corporate sector on livestock, fodder and the output of the diary sector in which a large number of women are engaged, especially in Punjab and Sindh. Corporate capture of these sectors will gain huge profits not only in the lucrative local markets but also through exports. These policies will result in market hegemony erosion of livelihood of millions of peasant and farmers across the country. The impact on women and children will be multi fold, as they will not only loose a rich source of food and nutrition but also the income from milk and livestock. The recent National Nutrition Survey has already well documented the extreme levels of hunger and malnutrition that women and children in the country face: the Pure Food Laws will only result in further aggravating the situation. It was also stated that food fortification policies that are ostensibly an answer to the malnutrition are only a profit-seeking industry for the mega-corporations of North America and Europe. Continue reading

Political Educational Program (Pre PEP)

In the first week of February, Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek  (PKMT) organized the political educational (Pre-PEP) programs in Mansehra (KPK), Rajanpur and Multan (Punjab) and Khairpur (Sindh).

In the educational programs, firstly the class distribution and its origin were discussed. The root cause of the issue and the circumstances which are behind it were also analyzed. The discussion further extended with the realization of the ruling systems of colonization and feudalism and the politics of land.      

Secondly, the oppressive system which effects on the lives of small and landless farmers which are feudalism and capitalism and the role of religious organization and private companies in increasing the difficulties faced by them.

Thirdly, the problems and rights of the most vulnerable class among the community, “women” who faces patriarchal system conferred to find solutions for the injustice they face in daily life.

The most powerful system “capitalism” and the tools of capitalists which are hindering the farmers were also examined. It was realized that how inorganic seed, politics of land, machines, poisonous medicine, market, loan from banks, different laws and material from outside the country is imposed on the farmers.

     

Lastly, the farmers discussed about the companies that now their work went in the hands of companies.

The second part of the pre pep discussed that which is the main oppressive countries (United States – China) and the effects of CPEC.

“Corporate Agriculture: Decent Livelihood, Pure Nutritious Food and Environmental Justice Impossible!” (PKMT) 12th Annual Assembly

Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) held its 12th Annual Conference 28, December, 2019 in Jampur, Rajanpur. The theme of the conference was “Corporate Agriculture: Decent Livelihood, Pure Nutritious Food and Environmental Justice Impossible!”

The Annual conference started with the registration of the members from various districts of the country.

The 12th PKMT General Assembly was kicked off with welcome remarks from the Punjab provincial coordinator Maqsood Ahmed, Rajanpur district coordinator Abdul Ghafaar. A one minute silence was observed in memory of Ghulam Yaseen, PKMT member who had passed away earlier this year.

The program began with a theatre  performance from the PKMT group “PUKKUK”.

Key Notes were delivered by Azra Talat Sayeed, followed by two different sessions focusing on the debacle of corporate agriculture, its impacts on farmers’ livelihood, climate crisis and decreasing access to safe nutritious food. Guest speaker was a trade unionist Mr Junaid Awan, Railway Workers Union.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial coordinator Mr Fayaz Ahmed provided a detailed run down on PKMT’s activities for 2019.

An award giving ceremony was conducted for farmers practicing Sustainable Agriculture. The two farmers who received the PKMT PaidarZarat Award were Mr Bakhtayar Zeb, Lower Dir, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Mr Ali Gohar, Gohar, Sindh. Both were chosen for receiving the award based on a criteria set by the PKMT National Seed Committee.

A session by the name of “Bol K Lab Azad Hain Tere” provided space for issues raised by famers across the country.

A vote of thanks was delivered by the Sindh provincial coordinator followed by the PKMT tarana sung by the members.

Farmers protest eviction

Bureau Report November 20, 2019

PESHAWAR: A group of farmers belonging to various rural localities of the provincial capital have expressed serious concern over their forced eviction from the area for the construction of Peshawar Northern Bypass and demanded of the government to compensate them.

Addressing a protest demonstration outside Peshawar Press Club on Monday, farmers’ representatives Nabi Jan, Ismail Khan, Sikandar Khan and others said they were tilling the land for the last 80 years which was their only source of livelihood, saying the government was taking possession of the land for construction of Peshawar Northern Bypass without paying its price or providing alternate agriculture land to the people.

The demonstrators said the government was not only snatching their livelihood but also depriving them of their houses and was reluctant to compensate them.

The farmers said that they had approached the relevant provincial government officials but no one bothered to listen to their grievances. They said the land was shamilat (community land) which had been converted into cultivatable land by their elders about 80 years ago and their forced eviction was sheer injustice.

The farmers’ leaders demanded of the government to stop harassing the people, withdraw cases against them and provide alternative land for agriculture and housing and ensure payment of compensation.

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2019

https://www.dawn.com/news/1517811/farmers-protest-eviction

کسان مزدور تحریک کا کسانوں کو زمینوں سبے دخل کرنے کیخلاف مظاہرہ

نومبر 20، 2019
پشاور (لیڈی رپورٹر) پاکستان کسان مزدور تحریک نے ہریانہ بالا پشاور میں کسانوں کو زمینوں سے زبردستی بے دخل کرنے کے خلاف پشاور پریس کلب کے سامنے احتجاجی مظاہرہ کیا اور اعلیٰ حکام سے مطالبہ کیا کہ سڑک کے تعمیر سے متاثر ہ کسانوں کو متبادل زمین اور گھروں کے تعمیر کیلئے رقوم براہ راست کسانوں کو دینے سمیت کھیتی باڑی کیلئے زرعی زمین دی جائے بصورت دیگر اپنا احتجاجی تحریک چلائنگے۔مظاہرین نے ہاتھوں میں پلے کارڈز اور بینرز اٹھا رکھے تھے جس پر حکومت مخالف نعرے درج تھے۔مطاہرے کی قیادت لعل جان،رحمان، سردار آصف اور دیگر ساتھیوں نے کی۔ اس موقع پر مظاہرین کا کہنا تھا کہ نادرز بائی پاس کی تعمیر سے ہریانہ بالا متعدد دیہات اس سے متاثر ہوئے ہے جنمیں گاوں گڑھی بجار،چولی بالا،چولی پایان، مترا، گڑھی ولی محمد،اور دیگر دیہات شامل ہے ۔