Statement by Moustapha Diop Member of the ATD Fourth World Movement in Senegal

Concluding plenary session – ATD Quart Monde-UNESCO 26 January 2012

Good morning everyone, ladies, gentlemen, dear guests, researchers, academics and activists of the Fourth World Movement.

I would like to thank you all for the efforts you have made during the past three years of research and work aimed at finding solutions based on the theme ’Extreme poverty is violence, Breaking the Silence. Searching for Peace’. After three years of research, carried out by the poorest people in the world, living in different countries across four continents, and speaking different languages, we have managed to agree on many of the things we suffer.

Through all these meetings, I finally understood the violence that takes place around the world. I thought it only happened in my country, in the Third World, but I saw that in the biggest capitals of the world, in the most developed countries in the world, unimaginable acts of injustice were taking place. Let’s take for example what happened in United States prisons, during Hurricane Katrina, when inmates were locked in their cells while the water level rose and they were not given anything to eat nor drink. They had to drink polluted and dirty water to survive. There are also all the people who died in the streets in Spain, hundreds of thousands of homeless people in a country where there are about 6 million empty houses. In Senegal, as poor as we are, no one ever took away our children to put them into care with a social worker. Our wealth is our children.

I would also like to recall what the Haitian people have said. They suffered from the natural disasters there, but on top of that, the national authorities continue to displace them, and bring another sort of violence to them. And what about all the injustices taking place all over Latin America, or around the Indian Ocean ? As far as we are concerned, in Africa, and more specifically in Senegal, institutional and political violence is used to seize our lands in order to give them to agribusiness multinationals who then hire the former owners of the land for their big-scale agricultural projects. All the harvests are always exported to the most developed countries, and in my country, hunger persists. In the Middle-east, in Lebanon, children were picked up and put in jail, to make room for the tourists, so that rich people can become richer; housekeepers were locked in the houses, and their passports were taken away.

If we manage to put an end to all this, everywhere in the world, peace will take over. To live in peace, we would need the world to think a little more about sharing. We are all the same, there’s no difference between us. All the rulers in the Third World come from the poorest families. It’s through their studies that they managed to obtain these positions. So we have to help the children of the poorest, families, women, in order to eradicate extreme poverty in the world. And peace will take over for ever.

The seriousness of all this frightens us. But this fear can be overcome, thanks to this Colloquium, which has helped us loosen our tongues. It is time for us, the poorest people on the planet, to break the silence, to speak loud and clear. What we were able to say together in this Colloquium, I had already been saying it for a long time where I was. But people thought me a misfit. Speaking up about violence done to the poorest was something I had dreamt about being able to do, one day or another. But I got lost as to where to talk about it and when to talk about it.

During this Colloquium, I have been able to talk, together with people from all over the world, and with participants who, I believe, will be able to make our voices, full of despair and regret, be heard.

Because these people who inflict this violence upon us are fellow human beings.

I was able to say it, and I have the courage to say it, because I believe that in this world we are part of, no one can have the last word. It’s together that we can speak loud and clear. That is why this Colloquium gathered poor people, intellectuals, researchers, and academics, and everyone spoke in the same voice. These people who were victims of violence had no partners to address themselves to or to represent them. I would like you, intellectuals, academics, researchers, who are here today, to be our partners and spokespeople around the world.

Myself, I will never give up. To the struggle that I have carried forward, I will bring other members of the the ATD Fourth World Movement, along with the poorest families of my country, in the same spirit of commitment.