Murder and Intimidation of Environmental Activists Hits Record Levels
At least 207 people around the world were murdered in 2017 for standing up to agribusiness, mining and wildlife trafficking.
The assassins came for Colombian land-rights activist Hernán Bedoya on Dec. 5, 2017, shooting him 14 times and killing him instantly.
Bedoya, who had been defending his community against palm-oil and other industrial agriculture, was just one of a record number of environmentalists and eco-defenders who were murdered last year, according to data released today by Global Witness.
All told at least 207 men and women around the globe lost their lives in 2017 — four per week — as they tried to defend their homes and communities against mining, agriculture, wildlife trafficking and other legal and illegal activities.
The actual number of slain activists is probably much higher, as many of these killings take part in remote parts of the world and crimes are often covered up by government officials or corporations....
More than half the killings occurred in just two countries: Brazil, with 57 deaths, and the Philippines, with 48 — the latter being the highest number of deaths Global Witness has ever documented in an Asian country. Around the world at least 46 murders were linked to agribusiness, with 40 linked to the mining sector. A record 23 people, mostly rangers in Africa, were murdered by poachers and wildlife traffickers.
The murders themselves are just one prong of attack against activists. Hundreds of additional people each year are also intimidated or silenced by violence, sexual assaults, arrests, death threats, cyber-attacks or lawsuits.
In one of the most brutal encounters cited by Global Witness, 22 indigenous activists in Brazil were attacked by ranchers who have claimed their land. Two of the assaulted men had their hands cut off with machetes....
The Cycle Continues
What will the picture of intimidated and murdered activists look like for 2018? As of this writing (July 24, 2018), nearly 60 activists and defenders are known to have been murdered this year. Most recently, a park ranger was killed by rhino poachers in South Africa’s Kruger National Park on July 19.
And as happens far too often in cases like this, no arrests have yet been made for the crime.