Kazakhstan: land protesters face police rampage

May 25, 2016

Street protests, against plans to step up land privatisation, were broken up by police in many of Kazakhstan’s largest cities on Saturday. The demonstrations were organised by informal on-line networks, rather than by any of the recognised opposition groups. Here are key points from a report by ANDREI GRISHIN, published here on the Fergana news site (in Russian):

Special rapid-reaction police detachments attacked small groups [of demonstrators] wherever they gathered. They grabbed everyone, regardless of gender, age and nationality. Dozens of journalists were arrested.

Kazakhstan had waited for the events of 21 May with bated breath. [Protesters had named that as a day of action after a previous wave of demonstrations had forced the government to pull back from planned land reforms. See an earlier report here.] The official media had railed against the protests. And it all ended – grgrgkazza3as it has so many times before – with the “slaughter of the innocents”, but this time more brutal than usual. The detention of dozens of journalists, including foreigners, was proof of that.

However, for the first time, people came out to protest all at once, in a number of cities and towns, without any leaders – because these leaders had either been arrested in advance, or had agreed to the authorities’ demands [after the previous demonstrations] and joined the [government’s] land commission.

[In Alma-ata in the south-east, the largest city in Kazakhstan and former capital, Read the rest of this entry »

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Kazakhstan: land protests force president to back down

May 6, 2016

Here ANDREI GRISHIN reports on the mass movement that yesterday (5 May) forced Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, to scrap plans to privatise swathes of land. This fierce defence of common access to land brings Kazakh people together with similar movements across the world; their defiance of a violent and bullying government is an inspiration. This is an edited version of a report published yesterday on the Ferghana.com web site in Russian.

Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev has announced a moratorium on land code regulations that were due to take effect on 1 July this year. The regulations […] that “called forth a reaction from society” will be put on hold until 2017, the president said. At the same time, the national economy minister Erbolat Dosayev was dismissed and the agriculture minister Asylzhan Mamybekov reprimanded.

The “reaction from society” that the president mentioned was a wave of protest meetings, held without permission on the squares of Kazakh cities. Many hundreds of people attended, to protest against the sale of land or its lease to foreign leaseholders.

[Here is the time-line over which the movement unfolded:]

24 April. The first demonstration against land sales took place in Atyrau in western Kazakhstan [in the heart of the main oil-producing region]. No-one expected it – least

Protesters in Atyrau on 24 April

Protesters in Atyrau on 24 April

of all two local activists, Max Bokayev and Talgat Ayan, who posted on Facebook that they would stage a picket at Isatay-Makhambet square, against the authorities’ plans to more than double the lengths of land leases to foreign entities. Two thousand people Read the rest of this entry »


‘A vector of inequality, degradation and violence’

August 31, 2014

Review of The Ecological Hoofprint: the global burden of industrial livestock by Tony Weis (Zed Books, 2013)

The rapid expansion of world meat consumption is (1) an indication that more people are getting better fed, right?

This “nutritional transition” is (2) great news for human health, right?

And (3), notwithstanding issues of excessive cruelty to animals, industrial

... and not only Walmart. (Photo from the Mercy for Animals web site.)

… and not only Walmart. (Photo from the Mercy for Animals web site.)

meat production is just a high-tech version of what humans have been doing since they started hunting, right?

Wrong, wrong, wrong, Tony Weis argues.

Weis demolishes justifications for the global process he calls “meatification” with a rigorous analysis of how it exacerbates inequality, and widens the rift between capitalist economies and the natural environment. It’s damaging and unsustainable.

At a time when academics are forced to focus more and more narrowly, he looks at the big picture.

On question (1) – who benefits from growing meat consumption – Weis unpacks the extent of inequalities: people in rich countries consume more Read the rest of this entry »


Cameroon land grab meltdown

September 20, 2013

A monumental and very slick land grab in Cameroon, west Africa by a US-based company appears to be heading for collapse. The Herakles Farm project “appears to have now gone off the rails”, the Oakland Institute, which monitors land grabbing, said in a press release.

“Herakles Farms had purported to herald a new era of ‘sustainable agriculture’ by replacing old-growth rainforest with palm oil plantations”, Read the rest of this entry »


Up to half of all food is wasted: agri-industry and supermarkets are culpable

January 14, 2013

Between 30% and 50% of all food produced – 1.2-2 billion tonnes/year – is wasted or lost, a report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME) says. It argues that the waste is caused mainly by marketing techniques in rich countries, along with poor practice and/or insufficient investment in harvesting, storage and transportation.

Wasted foodThe report, published last week, highlights the vast amounts of farmland, energy, fertilisers and water swallowed up by the production of food that is thrown away or left to rot.

In my view the report points to an important conclusion: it is the way food is produced and sold for profit, in a process controlled by agri-industrial giants and supermarkets – rather than food consumption or human population growth as such – that pushes at the earth’s natural limits.

The IME says that in poor countries, “wastage tends to occur Read the rest of this entry »


They could soon be betting on water supplies

November 11, 2012

Financial markets on which speculators can bet on the cost of clean water supplies are getting closer, STEVE DRURY writes.

Food policy commentator Frederick Kaufman has called on financial market regulators to stop the betting on water supplies before it starts, in an article in the renowned scientific weekly Nature.

“Currently, no-one is trading water futures, but it won’t take much to spark the market into life”, Kaufman warned. After the recent drought in the USA, Read the rest of this entry »


Scramble for land: paths of resistance

August 12, 2012

This is the second of two linked posts, by Steve Drury. The first one is HERE.

To think about resistance to “land grabbing” and the way to develop socialist thinking on land, it is worth considering historical analogies. The twenty-first century global land rush by capital brings to mind the crushing of the British peasantry, from medieval times to the nineteenth century, by Enclosure of the common land on which they largely depended for subsistence.

The March for Justice, for land rights in India

Moreover, land speculation creates the conditions for stepping back to the worst form of feudal serfdom, where former small peasants lose what tenancy to land they once had, work exclusively for the new landlord and survive at that landlord’s whim. Such semi-slavery is the source of the highest possible rate of profit from agriculture apart from fully-fledged slavery.

With the modern emphasis on mechanised agriculture, another analogy is the Clearances of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, in Scotland and Ireland especially, that simply expelled entire populations in the interests of Read the rest of this entry »