Violence against environmentalists is now at an all-time high

by Will Potter on July 8, 2016

in Government Priorities

RS4190_Maxima Chaupe 3 - Goldman - high res-scr

This is Máxima Acuña de Chaupe. She who won the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize, and her campaigning has been recognized internationally. She has also been beaten by police, harassed, and suffered years of violence and intimidation for her efforts to stop the construction of an open-pit gold mine on her land in Northern Peru.

Sadly, stories like this are only becoming more common.

A new report by Global Witness documents an increase in violence against environmentalists, globally, by 59% from 2014. That makes 2015 was the most violent year ever.

The report, “On Dangerous Ground,” shows that more than three people are killed every week in disputes over mining, logging, agriculture development, and hydropower projects.

The worst countries for environmental activists continues to be Brazil and the Philippines. Both countries suffered a record numbers of killings last year.

As I’ve reported previously for Foreign Policy, the perpetrators are governments, corporations, mercenary killers, and gangs. The victims disproportionately — about 40% — indigenous people fighting to protect their homes against land and resource grabs.

In another case, Filipino activist Michelle Campos has been fighting to protect her ancestral land, the region of Mindanao, from corporations exploiting its coal, nickel, and gold. More than 3,000 indigenous Lumad people were driven from their homes, and Campos’ father and grandfather were publicly executed.

“We get threatened, vilified and killed for standing up to the mining companies on our land and the paramilitaries that protect them,” said Michelle Campos. “My father, grandfather and school teacher were just three of countless victims. We know the murderers – they are still walking free in our community. We are dying and our government does nothing to help us.”


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