“Almost four environmental defenders a week killed in 2017”
Environmental activists around the globe are being killed as they struggle to protect fragile ecosystems. From Brazil to Congo, the Philippines to Tanzania, the toll is heaviest in countries beset by corruption and weak enforcement, where entrenched government and business elites break laws with impunity. (LA Times).
Raising awareness of the deadly struggle on the environmental frontline
In Africa, the greatest threat came from poachers and the illegal wildlife trade, particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo where four rangers and a porter were ambushed and killed in July. But the highest profile victim last year of the poaching conflict was Wayne Lotter, an influential conservationist who was murdered in Tanzania after receiving death threats. (The Guardian)
All pictures courtesy of (C) Michael McCabe Photography
Excerpts of LA-Times Q&A ‘They should be thought of as heroes’: Why killings of environmental activists are rising globally, with John Knox first special rapporteur on human rights and the environment.
They’re fighting not just for a healthy community but also for their culture and their way of life. Many of the most vulnerable communities are faced with a kind of existential threat: If they give up their ancestral territory, their culture dies.
Dangerous Times for Environmental Defenders
There’s greater demand for the natural resources these activists are trying to defend. Many of these countries are pretty rich in natural resources — minerals, lumber, land that can be used for palm oil plantations or other industries…
What I see over and over again is that these murders and other kinds of harassment take place when there’s impunity.
Government officials themselves are somehow being paid off or are in collusion with powerful economic interests… the land defenders are somehow seen as standing in the way of progress.
The only type of economic development that makes sense is sustainable development, and often these environmentalists are the ones asking whether these projects are truly sustainable.
Last year, the International Criminal Court prosecutor issued a statement saying they would be open to considering cases of land grabbing and massive environmental harm as crimes against humanity, and therefore within their jurisdiction. That would be a big development if the ICC started such cases — a real shock to the system in terms of overcoming impunity at the international level.
These defenders, they should be thought of as heroes, rather than obstacles to state interests.
Source: LA Times
- Read more about LA Times Environmental Warriors here.
- Read More about the Guardian series on environmental defenders and their deadly struggle on the environmental frontline.
Exclusive: 197 people killed last year for defending land, wildlife or natural resources, new Global Witness data reveals. In recording every defender’s death, the Guardian hopes to raise awareness of the deadly struggle on the environmental frontline.