The count increases as the years. In 2019, at least 212 environmental advocates, who fought around the world against deforestation, mining projects or agro-industrial, have been killed. A new record, according to a report by Global Witness. "At a time when we particularly need to protect the planet from the destructive industries and emitting CO2, the murders of defenders of the land and environment have never been so many" since the beginning of the count in 2012, notes the british NGO.
Leaders indigenous rangers responsible for protecting nature, or activists, common... The annual balance sheet published on Wednesday, July 29, surpasses the previous record of 2017 where 207 deaths had been reported. And like every year, " our numbers are almost certainly underestimated ", warns Global Witness. By 2019, half of all murders occurred in only two countries : the British, with 64 victims is ranked far in the lead in Latin America, which accounts for two-thirds of this count macabre, and the Philippines, with 43 dead.
In both countries, as in the rest of the world, the representatives of the indigenous peoples (40 % of deaths in the year 2019) who live closer to the nature "suffer a disproportionate risk of retaliation" when they are fighting to defend " their ancestral lands ". For example, in the Philippines, Datu Kaylo Bontolan, leader of the people, Manobo, was killed during an aerial bombardment in April 2019 as it struggled with its community against a mining project. The mines are the most deadly for environment defenders (50 deaths).
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The agro-industry comes next, with 34 militants killed in opposition to farm palm oil, sugar, or tropical fruits, in large part in Asia. The battle against the logging of his side's 24 victims, an increase of 85 % compared to 2018, while forests are crucial in the fight against global warming. Global Witness also notes that 33 militants were killed in the Amazon (in the vast majority in Brazil), combating deforestation, driven in particular by large projects in mining and agricultural. But defending the forest may also cost her life in Europe, a continent yet the least affected by the murders of defenders of the environment.
"An intensification of problems"
And in Romania, where one of the most important primeval forests in Europe is a victim of savage exploitation, the forest guard Liviu Pop was shot and killed in October after having surprised the loggers illegal. A month earlier another was killed with a blow of an axe to the head. As for the perpetrators, even if "the impunity and widespread corruption" makes it difficult to identify them, the report points the finger at organized crime, the local gang, paramilitary organizations, or even the official security forces who are assigned to 37 of the dead of 2019.
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"many Of the violations of the rights of man and the environment are generated by the exploitation of natural resources and the corruption of the world political and economic system," said Rachel Cox, of Global Witness, which notes that the companies responsible are the same ones that " lead us to a change of climate out of control ". "If we really want a green stimulus that places at the centre the health, safety and well-being of the population, we must address the root causes of attacks against activists and follow their example to protect the environment and curb the climate crisis ", she insisted.
But if, in the context of a reconstruction of a world post-Covid more green, the protection of the activists of environmental is " vital ", the NGO emphasizes, instead, an "intensifying problems" : "governments across the planet, from the U.s. to Brazil or Colombia and the Philippines, have used the crisis to increase draconian measures to control the citizens, and go over environmental rules, hard-earned. "Beyond the dead, the NGO denounces the use" of tactical campaigns of slander lawsuits deceptive to silence those who fight for the climate and the survival of humanity, "accused sometimes of being "criminals" or " terrorists ". As for the women, who represent 10% of the dead, they are sometimes the subject of sexual violence.
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in Spite of this gloomy statement, Global Witness welcomes the few victories won by these activists, " courageous ", " proof of their tenacity. As the Indians waorani in the ecuadorian Amazon, where the justice has suspended the entry into their ancestral lands by the oil industry. "It is for our forests and for future generations. And it is for the whole world ", insisted then Nemonte Nenquimo, one of their leaders. But the government has appealed.