Global Witness says at least 185 activists were killed and anti-mining activities were the most deadly – with 42 deaths related to protests
At least 185 environmental activists were killed last year, the highest annual death toll on record and close to a 60% increase on the previous year, according to a UK-based watchdog.
Global Witness documented lethal attacks across 16 countries. Brazil was worst hit with 50 deaths, many of them killings of campaigners who were trying to combat illegal logging in the Amazon. The Philippines was second with 33. Colombia had 26 fatal attacks; Peru, 12; Nicaragua, 12; and Democratic Republic of Congo had 11.
“As demand for products like minerals, timber and palm oil continues, governments, companies and criminal gangs are seizing land in defiance of the people who live on it,” said Billy Kyte, a senior campaigner for Global Witness and author of the report.
“Communities that take a stand are increasingly finding themselves in the firing line of companies’ private security, state forces and a thriving market for contract killers. For every killing we document, many others go unreported. Governments must urgently intervene to stop this spiraling violence.”
The most deadly industry to protest against was mining, with 42 deaths in 2015 related to anti-mining activities. Agribusiness, hydroelectric dams and logging were also key drivers of violence, Global Witness found, and many of the murders occurred in remote villages deep within rainforests.
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