As nearly 150 world leaders are meeting in Paris to discuss new environmental initiatives and tens of thousands of people are rallying across the world across the globe, let’s not forget the activists who died while fighting for the cause.
While drafting new plans to fight global warming during global summits, the measures to protect environmental activists often take the back seat.
On Nov. 19, Alfredo Ernesto Vracko Neuenschwander, a woodworker who was peacefully resisting illegal gold miners to carry out operations in Peru’s Tambopata National Reserve, was gunned down by unknown assailants at his home.
But Neuenschwander is just one of the many environmentalists killed over the past two years. As per a report released by campaign group Global Witness, “At least 116 environmental activists were murdered in 2014 — that's almost double the number of journalists killed in the same period.”
About 40% of the victims, the investigation found, belonged to indigenous groups. Meanwhile, most of the perpetrators worked for the hydropower, agriculture, oil and mining sectors, often including members of the law enforcement and/or paramilitary groups.
"Globally, it's likely that the true death toll is higher," states the report, called How Many More. "Many of the murders we know about occurred in remote villages or deep within the jungle, where communities lack access to communications and the media. It's likely many more killings are escaping public records."
Of all the places included in the investigation, Central and South America were the most dangerous regions for activists working for the protection of the environment. Honduras was named the most dangerous country, where 101 killings occurred between 2002 and 2014.
Since the main architects of environmental crimes usually belong to “a powerful nexus of corporate and state interests,” according to the report, they usually go unpunished.