Four land and environmental defenders killed every week in 2016: report
New Delhi: At least four people were murdered every week across the world in 2016 while protecting their land, forests and rivers from mining, logging and agricultural companies, said a report released on Thursday.
The report, “Defenders of the Earth—global killings of land and environmental defenders in 2016”, was released by Global Witness, an international NGO.
According to the report, the number of such deaths increased from 185 in 2015 (16 countries) to 200 in 2016 (24 countries).
The report termed mining as the bloodiest trade with at least 33 murders linked to the sector while killing linked to logging companies and agri-business projects were 23 each.
As per the report, Latin America remained the worst-affected region, home to 60% of murders.
Brazil topped the list with 49 killings and was followed by Colombia (37), Philippines (28), India (16) and Honduras (14).
“India has seen a threefold increase in killings as police brutality and repression of peaceful protests worsens. 2016 saw 16 murders, mostly linked to mining projects,” the report said.
“These reports tell a very grim story. The battle to protect the planet is rapidly intensifying and the cost can be counted in human lives. More people in more countries are being left with no option but to take a stand against the theft of their land or the trashing of their environment. Too often, they are brutally silenced by political and business elites, while the investors that bankroll them do nothing,” said Global Witness campaigner Ben Leather.
Greenpeace India, an NGO working on environmental issues, said that the situation in India is extremely challenging, especially for many lesser-known groups and individual activists.
“It takes great courage to speak up in defence of the land and the environment, particularly while challenging resource extraction projects billed as ‘development’, backed by rich and powerful forces. The Global Witness report shows how rapidly the situation is worsening for land defenders in India and worldwide,” said Ravi Chellam, executive director of Greenpeace India.