Environmental activists are often murdered for fighting illegal mining or deforestation, the non-governmental organization says. In some countries, their use is particularly dangerous.
Protests against mines and deforestation, hydropower plants and large farms are dangerous in many places: According to a count by the non-governmental organization Global Witness, at least 212 environmentalists were killed worldwide. That’s an average of more than four murders a week – and more than any previous report. In addition, environmentalists in many countries are repeatedly threatened, slandered and brought to justice because of their work.
Most of the murders of environmental activists, according to the report, took place in Colombia (64), the Philippines (43) and Brazil (24). Global Witness registered more than two thirds of all cases in Latin America. But also in the EU country Romania two environmental activists were killed last year who had campaigned against the illegal deforestation of Europe’s last primeval forests. The organization assumes that the actual number of environmentalists killed is significantly higher because many cases are covered up or not reported.
According to the non-governmental organization, behind the acts of violence are mostly companies, farmers and, in some cases, state actors as well as criminal gangs, paramilitary groups and rebels. “Agriculture, oil, gas and mining create violence against environmentalists – these are the very industries that fuel climate change through deforestation and emissions,” says Rachel Cox of Global Witness.