Magazine article Earth Island Journal

A Dangerous Calling

Magazine article Earth Island Journal

A Dangerous Calling

Article excerpt

Around the world, grassroots activists are putting their lives on the line to defend their forests, rivers, and local communities from exploitation. According to the latest report by Global Witness, a nonprofit that exposes human rights abuses driven by the exploitation of natural resources, 2015 was the deadliest year on record for environmental activists. The report documents 185 killings across 16 countries last year, a 60 percent increase from 2014 and an average death rate of more than three people per week.

The murders were tied to everything from encroaching agribusiness plantations, to construction of hydroelectric dams, logging, and above all, mining projects. Almost 40 percent of those who lost their lives defending the land last year were from indigenous people's groups. As startling as these numbers are, they are likely an underestimate--the report does not account for unconfirmed or unreported deaths. Globally, there simply isn't adequate monitoring and reporting of environment-related murders. Nor do the numbers account for the lesser acts of violence or threats against activists and their families, which are almost certainly more prevalent than assassination.

Unfortunately 2016 has already proven deadly as well: The year started off with the horrific murder of well-known Indigenous Lenca leader Berta Caceres, followed soon after by the assassination of two other members from her organization, the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (or C0PINH). It is clear that this rapidly growing human rights crisis isn't going to slow down any time soon unless there's urgent intervention on a global scale.

[1] Brazil

Brazil topped Global Witness's list with 50 murders of environmental and land activists in 2015, nearly double the number in 2014. The majority of the killings took place in the Amazon states of Maranhao, Para, and Rondonia, where plantations and ranches are encroaching on land held by rural communities and hitmen are hired to silence those who speak out against the loss of land and environmental destruction. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.