Killing of Land Rightists Rise With Demand for Resources
|May 14, 2014||Posted by Staff under Land Disputes|
This 2014 excerpt of Global Witness, Apr 15, is by Oliver Courtney and Alice Harrison.
Killings of people protecting the environment and rights to land increased sharply between 2002 and 2013 as competition for natural resources intensifies, a new report from Global Witness reveals. In the most comprehensive global analysis of the problem on record, the campaign group has found that at least 908 people are known to have died in this time. Disputes over industrial logging, mining, and land rights are the key drivers, and Latin America and Asia-Pacific particularly hard hit.
Released in the year of the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Brazilian rubber tapper and environmental activist Chico Mendes, Deadly Environment highlights a severe shortage of information or monitoring of this problem. This means the total is likely to be higher than the report documents. Just over one per cent of the perpetrators have been convicted.
Companies and governments routinely strike secretive deals for large chunks of land and forests to grow cash crops like rubber, palm oil, and soya. Often, the first the indigenous know of a deal that goes against their interests is when the bulldozers arrive in their farms and forests. At least 661 – over two-thirds – of the killings took place in the context of conflicts over the ownership, control, and use of land.
The report also underlines that rising fatalities are the most acute and measurable end of a range of threats including intimidation, violence, stigmatization, and criminalization. The number of deaths points to a much greater level of non-lethal violence and intimidation.
The death rate rose in the last four years to an average of two activists a week. Human rights only have meaning if people are able to exercise them.
Ed. Notes: To stop the killing, a critical mass must come to a consensus that there is a common wealth, that it is the worth of Earth, and that everyone is entitled to a share (not just insiders).