On average, 4 activists per week worldwide were killed and countless other people were silenced through death threats, arrests and lawsuits.
These are impressive numbers, which could however be much higher, as cases are often not documented.
Over half of all the murders reported in 2019 occurred in only two countries: Colombia ranks first with 64 victims, while the second highest number is in the Philippines, which went from 30 homicides in 2018 to 43 recorded in 2019.
One in ten killed activists were female. Compared to men, women have undergone specific threats, libelous and sexist campaigns and sexual violence.
Mining and agri-food sectors were the sectors that counted most deaths: among the people who lost their lives were activists who opposed illegal mining, rangers who defended areas subject to deforestation, indigenous people who are fighting to stop the uncontrolled exploitation of resources in their lands.
“Agribusiness and oil, gas and mining have been consistently the biggest drivers of attacks against land and environmental defenders – and they are also the industries pushing us further into runaway climate change through deforestation and increasing carbon emissions,” said Global Witness activist Rachel Cox.
The NGO’s annual report also shed light on the fundamental role of activists in the fight against climate crisis. Despite threats, attacks, and fear of losing their lives, activists from around the world still achieved numerous successes in 2019, opposing the establishment of polluting industries, unsustainable activities and deforestation.
The work and commitment of these people are fundamental for the planet and for the rights of the weakest: protecting activists is vital if we want to plan a green recovery and rebuild a safer planet for everyone’s health and well-being .
Thus, let us not be taken aback by these numbers. Mongering fear and hatred is part of their game…. if we choose a different, loving, peaceful and determined path, things really can change.
Source: Global Witness