Thursday, January 2, 2020

The Rising Toll of Murdered Environmental Activists

Each year environmental activists are killed for trying to defend the natural world. It is fitting that we start the year by remembering the brave souls who are on the front lines of efforts to protect their land, water or local wildlife. For every environmental activist killed hundreds more were assaulted. This includes the indigenous activists in Brazil who had their hands cut off with machetes by ranchers. To add insult to injury the perpetrators of these villainous acts are almost never caught.

The murderers are linked to agribusiness, mining, poaching and wildlife trafficking. These killings commonly take place in corrupt tropical and subtropical countries, particularly in Central and South America. Some of the most deadly countries are Brazil, the Philippines, Colombia, Mexico and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Indigenous people make up a disproportionately large proportion of the victims. This is but the most recent manifestation of a long history of indigenous murders.  In recent years these murders have reached their highest point since colonial times.
  • In 2010 at least 96 environmental activists were killed. 
  • In 2011 at least 106 environmental activists were murdered.
  • In 2012 at least 147 environmental activists were slain.
  • In 2014 at least 116 environmental activists were assassinated.
  • In 2015 at least 185 environmental activists were killed.
  • In 2017 a total of 207 environmental activists were murdered.
  • In 2018 164 environmental activists were slain.
As reported by the Guardian a recent report indicates that at least 1,558 environmental activists in 50 states were killed between 2002 and 2017. Even by these conservative estimates, this represents a doubling of such murders in the last 15 years. These murders now occur at an average rate of four per week.

People in the north are complicit in the murder of these environmentalists.  Nathalie Butt, a researcher at the University of Queensland and the author of the study on murdered environmental activists said companies and consumers in wealthy countries in the northern hemisphere should take responsibility for products sourced in the south. "We need to make ethics and transparency an important part of the supply chain. We need to ensure that there is no blood on our hands," she said.

Remembering Some of the Earth Defenders Who Were Killed in 2019
The Slaughter of Innocents: Our Complicity in the Murder of Environmentalists
Remembering Berta on International Women's Day
Environmentalists Continue to be Murdered or Silenced by Courts All Around the World
The Persecution of Environmentalists
Environmental Problems and Activists Struggling Against Abuse (Video)

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