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To imagine a world without farmers is like imagining a world without food. In the same way, if we imagine a nation which ignores its people can we really believe in its sovereignty? Yet the state’s architects are engaged in conjuring up such dark visions right now, as they become corporations’ loyal servants. 

That is the opening paragraph of the statement of the second Autonomous Farmer’s Congress. At around 2pm, the statement was read aloud by Sumanto, a Kulon Progo peasant, in a room belonging to the Ambarbinangun Youth Hall in Yogyakarta.

One step behind Sumanto stood 14 people. Sumanto and the other 14 were representatives of the communities which had become victims of the collusion between the state and corporations to take over people’s living space. They came from various areas: Sumedang, Kulon Progo, Lumajang, Jepara, Blora, Pati, Ogan Ilir, Parangtritis, Sidoarjo, Tasikmalaya, and Banten. There should also have been a representative of Kebumen in attendance. However, a few hours before the statement was read out, they had to go back home. Military intimidation of an action by peasants back in Kebumen meant they needed to leave before the congress finished.

Cries of ‘Hidup Rakyat!’, ‘Long live the people!’ could be heard across the congress room just after the statement was read out. Reading the statement was the closing act of the congress.

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