Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform

OUR HISTORY:

Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR) was formed as a network of farmer organizations, NGOs and people’s organizations in other sectors at the beginning of 1990, in response to the serious socio-political and economic crisis that emerged in Sri Lanka at the end of 1980s.

MONLAR started with a dialogue. This dialogue was one where we tried to find answers to questions that were extremely serious. The youth uprising of 1988-90 had resulted in around 60,000 disappearances, (as estimated by the European Parliamentary Delegation that visited Sri Lanka in 1991) making Sri Lanka one of the most violent countries in the world. In this uprising around thirty of our activists connected with the All Lanka Peasant Congress were assassinated. They were killed for their support of the devolution of power to the Tamil people and not because they joined the insurrection.

There were previous experiences of two uprisings, one in the South in 1971 and the other in the North beginning in 1976 which ended up in a long war for over 30 years. Why were these happening? What understandings did the responsible leaders of society have and what solutions did they have?

A group of people who worked with the All Lanka Peasant Congress (ALPC) and the Peasant Information Centre (PIC), Ibbagamuwa, made a submission on this to the Presidential Commission on Youth in 1990, (Ref: Youth Uprisings and Social Responsibility) and decided that these questions needed to be discussed with people island-wide. A similar submission was made to the Presidential Task Force for Land Distribution and Utilization appointed by then President R. Premadasa.

It was necessary to analyze the reasons and discuss them widely with ordinary people in the country who had suffered, and were continuing to suffer, and therefore would want to find genuine solutions. From this time onwards MONLAR's process was one of trying to analyze society, how our situations are linked and influenced by global trends and to develop responses to effectively influence the changes in the country in relation to such efforts globally. When people have the right analysis of problems they can create right solutions. This search and dialogue had to be made as wide as possible among people who suffered the consequences. We have continued this dialogue consistently over the last 25 years.

Key milestone events

  • 1984 – Campaign against water tax and peasant struggle in Wellassa against mass land grabbing for sugar cultivation
  • 1987 – Formation of Peasant Information Centre
  • 1989 – Submission of the proposals for land reforms
  • 1990 – Formation of Committee for National Land and Agricultural Reforms
  • 1992 – Breaking civil laws against making the country a single economic zone
  • 1993 – Initiation of the Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reform
  • 1993 – Initiation of the National Movement Mother's to Combat Malnutrition
  • 1994 – Signing the petition against WB
  • 1994 – Struggle to demand solutions for farmer suicides due to indebtedness
  • 1996 – Start of the Sandeshaya (The Message) news bulleting (Official publication of the movement)
  • 1996 – "Hour of Truth" campaign to awareness building of the people on international loan traps
  • 1997 – Initiation of the campaign to protect Eppawala Phosphate deposit
  • 2000 – Signing the petition of Jubilee 2000 to demand debt cancelation
  • 2000 – Polonnrauwa farmers hunger strike to demand better price for paddy
  • 2001 – Campaign against water privatization
  • 2001 – Campaign of the Peoples Movement to Reduce Milk Prices
  • 2002 – National Movement Against Highways
  • 2003 – Campaign series against the "Regaining Sri Lanka: Connecting to Growth" structural adjustment policies
  • 2003 – Formation of National Movement for the Protection of Human Rights and Natural Resources
  • 2005 – Formation of the People's Planning Commission after the Tsunami disaster
  • 2005 – Campaign series against WTO
  • 2006 – Campaign against Norochcholai Coal Power Plants
  • 2007 – Public March to Protect Paddy Farmers
  • 2007 – Formation of National Movement of Milk Farmers
  • 2007 – Campaigns against the attempts of Sugar plantations in Bibile
  • 2008 – Initiation of public campaigns of the solutions for food sovereignty
  • 2009 – Campaign against the war
  • 2009 – Campaign against media suppression, forced disappearances and killings
  • 2010 – Initiation of the Panama land struggle
  • 2012 – Formation of People's Planning Forums at Provincial level
  • 2012 – Initiation of the People's Movement for the Plantation Communities' Land Rights
  • 2012 – Initiation of collaborative programs with Department of Agriculture to promote ecological agriculture
  • 2013- Formation of the National Movement to Protect Seed Rights
  • 2014 – Initiation of the annual People's Caravan for Food Sovereignty
  • 2014 – Collaborative action with "Street Protest" movement to defeat dictatorship regime
  • 2015 – Presenting the people's proposals for agricultural reforms