908 Environmental Activists Are Dead and No One Seems to Care

According to Merriam-Webster, activism is “a doctrine or practice that emphasizes direct vigorous action especially in support of or opposition to one side of a controversial issue.”

Sure, activism is always evolving and today includes less direct vigorous action. There’s ‘slacktivism‘ and ‘clicktivism,’ and Google Earth is also making environmental activism a little easier with a new forest-mapping tool to track deforestation.

Yet environmental activism still requires on-the-ground direct (vigorous) action. If you are a peasant farmer watching your land being sold or an indigenous community losing your ancestral land to illegal logging, activism isn’t a luxury or a choice; it’s a way of life.

A new report from Global Witness shows how direct action — killing — is being taken on environmental activists. You can bet that these are definitely not corporate activists. As reported in The Guardian, the Deadly Environment report found that from 2002 to 2013, “at least 908 activists were killed in 35 countries – with only 10 convictions.”

While there were only 51 environmental activist deaths in 2002, there were 147 deaths in 2012. And these numbers are conservative because these are only documented cases.

Who is Dying?

While there have been a few high-profile assassinations of activists, the easiest and most frequent targets are ordinary (usually poor) people with a passion for the environment.

– They were against land grabs.

– They opposed industries, e.g. mining and timber trade.

– They fought for cleaner air and less pollution.

– They took up wildlife causes.

The Deadliest Countries in the World

Unfortunately, killing environmental activists isn’t concentrated in one place. The numbers of environmental activist deaths have increased all over.

Brazil leads the way as the deadliest country. With its wealth of natural resources, especially the Amazon, it makes sense. As reported in The Guardian, there were 448 deaths in Brazil alone from 2002 to 2013. The Amazon is a major hotspot of violence with the waves of illegal logging, cattle ranching and soy bean farming contributing to the alarming deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.

While Brazil accounts for most of the deaths, being an environmental activist anywhere in Latin America is a dangerous thing. Honduras followed Brazil with 109 deaths from 2002 to 2013, while all of Latin America accounted for 80 percent of the reported deaths.

Is there any correlation between the deaths and the rising trend of Central America’s narco-deforestation? 93 of the 109 deaths were peasant farmers concentrated in one region: Bajo Aguan.

Peru, which shares a border and a bounty of natural resources with Brazil, e.g. the Amazon, rounded up the top 3 with 58 deaths within the same time frame.

After Latin America, Asia has the second most concentration of environmental activist deaths. From 2002 to 2013, there were 67 deaths in the Philippines. Thailand followed the Philippines with 16 deaths within the same period.

Who’s Killing the Activists?

It depends on the region and the reason of the dispute. As covered in The Guardian, Global Witness’ “investigation unearthed information on perpetrators in just 294 of the 448 deaths, of which 54 were identified as police or military units.”

In Brazil, the main driving forces behind the conflict revolved around the land and illegal logging. Therefore, the main perpetrators of violence are landowners and loggers. And the main victims are indigenous peoples, namely the Guarani and Kalowa groups.

In the Philippines, most of the conflicts revolve around mining practices. The Global Witness investigative report found that many of the deaths could be contributed to security forces and state agents. Per their findings, 14 deaths were tied to the armed forces, 3 were linked to the local government and 3 had ties to the police. There were also close political underpinnings.

Our finite resources are becoming more limited every second, yet the demand seems never-ending. That’s when clashes among activists, corporations and governments boil over.

But killing environmental activists doesn’t solve the earth’s problems. Silencing activists worsens climate change, deforestation, pollution, etc. We need the voices of environmental activists to try and keep the balance between ‘development’ and conservation. If we don’t try and keep this balance, then Mother Nature will forcibly reinstate balance for us (and it probably won’t end well for us).

Remember: even if all of the environmental activists were silenced, Mother Nature can never be silenced.

Photo Credit: Digo_Souza

127 comments

Carrie-Anne Brown
Carrie-Anne Brownabout a year ago

thanks for sharing

Janice Thompson
Janice Thompson2 years ago

Big Business is winning. We have to fight harder. If we want our planet to survive. Without our planet's survival, we won't either.

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla2 years ago

Shame!!! Because of activists we have a still beautiful planet... Still....

Mandy H.
Mandy H.2 years ago

Very sad news, unfortunately historically a common occurrence. Those fighting for what's right have historically been far more likely to die then those doing the wrong thing :( You'd think in these days it wouldn't be the case, but it still is.

Vicky P.
Vicky P.2 years ago

horrible

Lynn C.
Lynn C.2 years ago

ty

Ron G.
Ron A G.2 years ago

Sorry for the duplicate post. I must be determined.

continued:

To get a good understanding of their ways, if you care to read good accounts of how they have done this since early the times of the country to include the Patriarch of the Bush Family, I recommend 2 books. The first an easy read is "The Crash of 2016" by Thom Hartman, and the Second "A Family Of Secrets-The story of the Bush Family Dynasty", a little tougher read but factual and both verified facts. For the record, I could care less about names but I do care the process of the destruction of our people and this country. Those ways are at the core of why countries feel they must kill and destroy people inorder to be powerful and make more money then they will ever need. The "Greed" is at their core, and "We" must stop them by uniting in purpose and not just the written words. They must know we are serious by wanting all the things we write to save and showing them in a vehement way.

Ron G.
Ron A G.2 years ago

Although I agree with Paula E. and Liliana G, the media is only a part od the solution. I can't affect change, you can't affect change, but we can. The blame, I will call the Greeds too, rebels against Unions for that very purpose. They "unite" workers against greed. To those who say Unions are the greedy ones I say bull. Unions help to make things fair unlike conditions now. We have all seen and heard the disparity in wage and condition parity. Those who make the most yell the loudest about the other guys being unfair. This parallels to environment and all things important. WE can affect change with written words when we unite in places we all read, but action activism is also strong when we unite. The 99% movement drew attention to improprieties and was squelched by the Greeds using the media and factions they control, like political heads, with threats of lost revenue and power. We let this happen, and we listen to what Greed says but feel powerless. Comparatively in immediacy we are, but in strength united we can't be stopped. I will cite the women's movement, far from completion but stronger than realized. I feel this is why the Greeds, through politicians, are making this a concentrated effort like they did against the 99% movement. Women scare them as a united movement. The "We" is what they want to control, but the "We" can't be controlled if "We" unite in all ways against their Greed. To get a good understanding of their ways, if you care to read good accounts of ho

Ron G.
Ron A G.2 years ago

Although I agree with Paula E. and Liliana G, the media is only a part od the solution. I can't affect change, you can't affect change, but we can. The blame, I will call the Greeds too, rebels against Unions for that very purpose. They "unite" workers against greed. To those who say Unions are the greedy ones I say bull. Unions help to make things fair unlike conditions now. We have all seen and heard the disparity in wage and condition parity. Those who make the most yell the loudest about the other guys being unfair. This parallels to environment and all things important. WE can affect change with written words when we unite in places we all read, but action activism is also strong when we unite. The 99% movement drew attention to improprieties and was squelched by the Greeds using the media and factions they control, like political heads, with threats of lost revenue and power. We let this happen, and we listen to what Greed says but feel powerless. Comparatively in immediacy we are, but in strength united we can't be stopped. I will cite the women's movement, far from completion but stronger than realized. I feel this is why the Greeds, through politicians, are making this a concentrated effort like they did against the 99% movement. Women scare them as a united movement. The "We" is what they want to control, but the "We" can't be controlled if "We" unite in all ways against their Greed. To get a good understanding of their ways, if you care to read good accounts of ho

Nikolas K.
Nikolas K.2 years ago

908 killed is a drop in the ocean compared to the millions killed by the military/industrial alliance for profit and cheap oil and does anyone care as long as they are not the victims.