Environmental activism has increasingly become a dangerous pursuit, with activists often in the line of fire from police officials, local business interests, and monster corporations with big pockets.
This latest article from the Guardian describes a Peruvian lawsuit claiming the mining firm Xstrata is responsible for alleged police violence against demonstrators near a mine.
In the Xstrata case, two protesters died, and several others were injured. This is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg, however.
Worldwide, hundreds of activists have disappeared or been killed for their defense of the environment:
- 2017 is on course to set a record for the number of 'land defenders' killed, according to Matthew Taylor of the Guardian.
- Land rights activist Bill Kayong was shot and killed last year in Malaysia; representatives of a palm oil plantation company were charged with the murder - and later acquitted. Is international investment to blame for increased deaths?
- A proposed reduction in forest protections may be linked to attacks on inspectors and campaigners, environmental groups said after two land rights activists were murdered in Brazil in July.
- In September, groups from 29 countries across Africa, Latin America and Asia told the UN that the fight to protect natural resources has become too dangerous in the face of violence from state forces, private security groups and state-sponsored vigilantes.
- Meanwhile, industry forces are using the court system to paint activists as criminals engaging in illegal conspiracy. These million-dollar cases are having a chilling effect on the activist community.