At least 200 environmental activists slain in 2016

2017-07-13 23:00
A protester holds a sign speaking put against the Dakota Access Pipeline during a NoDAPL emergency rally at Westlake Park. (Lindsey Wasson, The Seattle Times via AP)

A protester holds a sign speaking put against the Dakota Access Pipeline during a NoDAPL emergency rally at Westlake Park. (Lindsey Wasson, The Seattle Times via AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

New Delhi — At least 200 land and environmental activists were slain in 2016 protecting forests, rivers and land from mining, logging and agricultural companies, the highest annual number on record, a watchdog group said on Thursday.

India had a threefold increase in such killings but Latin America remained the deadliest region with some 60% of the world's deaths of activists protecting local resources, London-based Global Witness said in a report. The deaths, which rose from 185 the previous year, were reported in 24 countries compared to 16 in 2015.

"The fact that the upward curve of killings has continued... suggests that governments and business continue to prioritize short-term profit over human lives," Global Witness campaigner Billy Kyte told The Associated Press.

Mining, oil, agriculture and logging were the industries most associated with activist murders. Kyte said such interests are encroaching more on previously untouched areas and coming into conflict in particular with indigenous peoples, who accounted for 40% of the victims documented in the report.

The group said the true number of killings is likely to be much higher, since collecting such data is difficult. And while murder is an extreme tactic of oppression, activists also routinely experienced death threats, assaults, arrests and costly legal battles, it said.

Honduras, where 14 land defenders were killed last year, remained the deadliest nation per capita. The victims there included Berta Caceres, who was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for her opposition to a hydroelectric dam project on her Lenca people's lands. She was slain in March 2016 by gunmen who forced their way into her home. Two other members of her indigenous organization Copinh were also killed last year.

Last week, two European development banks announced they were pulling financing from the dam project that Caceres had opposed.

Forty-nine land activists were slain last year in Brazil, the report said: "Year after year, this is the most dangerous country in terms of numbers."

Rangers at national parks

The non-governmental Pastoral Land Commission, which tracks land conflicts in Brazil, blamed the high level of violence on agriculture, mining, energy and other companies moving into lands held by traditional and indigenous communities.

The commission itself registered 61 deaths in land conflicts in 2016, the highest figure in 13 years.

The Global Witness report listed 37 deaths in Colombia, followed by the Philippines and India with 28 and 16, respectively. The report noted police brutality against largely peaceful protests soared in India in 2016.

Across Africa the people most at risk were rangers at national parks whose jobs pitted them against poachers.

The report said activists fighting to protect the natural resources of their communities around the world, including in the United States, increasingly found themselves portrayed as criminals, facing both false charges and aggressive civil cases brought by governments and companies.

The group's research suggests that 2017 will be deadlier, Kyte said.

"I think these attacks are getting more brazen," said Kyte, lamenting what he called "collusion between states and corporate interests in silencing dissent over these destructive industries."

Read more on:    global witness  |  conservation

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Weird things dogs do

Caught your dog doing something... well a little bit odd? Don’t worry, there’s a simple explanation for his behaviour.

 
 

Paws

Makeover saves dog’s life
For the love of Corgis!
Can we communicate with our pets?
8 great natural remedies for your pet
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.