News Release - Quakers join march for landless
02 October 2012
Quakers in Britain are among a global chain of solidarity with landless Indian villagers whose massive nonviolent protest march this week turned, cautiously, to celebration when Indian government ministers appeared to meet demands to give land rights to the poorest.
Rajagopal P.V., leader of the Jansatyagraha 2012 march, has this week negotiated with the prime minister, Manmohan Singh, and the minister of rural development. Organisers believe there has been a great achievement for land rights in India. This is proof, the organisers say, that nonviolence can make a change in the world.
However, after government ministers addressed the marchers in Gwalior today (Tuesday 2 October) the people decided they wanted to see more commitment from the government and revised plans for 100,000 people to march taking a month to cover 350km from Gwalior to Delhi. A smaller group will set off at 7.00am tomorrow; 300 representatives will finalise their demands in Delhi and on 11 October, Rajagopal will meet government ministers in Delhi.
Rajagopal says the people want “dignity, security and identity”. He is president of Ekta Parishad, a movement of around 11,000 community-based organisations that interprets nonviolence in the same way as Gandhi, as an active force in bringing about social change. Quaker Peace and Social Witness (QPSW) has supported Ekta Parishad for many years as part of its South Asia Programme and has worked with them to provide training in active nonviolence. QPSW staff member Gerald Conyngham was at the workshops in Gwalior this week while Quakers joined Christian Aid and Action Village India to organise vigils and marches in the UK.
Visit www.quaker.org.uk/landmarch to find solidarity marches.
Notes to editor:
- To interview Gerald Conyngham, contact Anne van Staveren on 020 7663 1048
- Quakers are known formally as the Religious Society of Friends.
- Around 23,000 people attend nearly 475 Quaker meetings in Britain. Their commitment to equality, justice, peace, simplicity and truth challenges them to seek positive social and legislative change.