Brazil tops ranking of environmental activists killed in 2015

According to a report by Global Witness non-governmental organization,

Published on 21/06/2016 - 10:16 By Maiana Diniz reports from Agência Brasil - Brasília

Brazil is at the top of a ranking of land and environmental activists killed in 2015 according to a report called On Dangerous Ground released Monday (Jun. 20) by Global Witness nongovernmental organization. Globally, 185 activists were killed last year. This is the largest number ever reported by Global Witness, a 59% increase from 2014.

“More than three people were killed a week in 2015 defending their land, forests and rivers against destructive industries,” the report read. Brazil topped the ranking with 50 victims, followed by the Philippines (33); Colombia (26); Peru and Nicaragua (12 each); and the Democratic Republic of Congo (11).

According to Global Witness, the main reason behind the killings in 2015 were the activists' involvement in conflicts over mining (42 killings), agribusiness (20), logging (15), and dam projects (15). The organization believes the figures are underestimated due to difficulties obtaining the information.

Among the victims in Brazil is Antônio Isídio da Silva, a community leader who was found dead in Vergel, a village in Maranhão state.  He “had suffered years of assassination attempts and death threats for defending his land against a small group of powerful landowners who attempted to seize it for valuable timber,” Global Witness said. “Police have never investigated his murder.”

Indigenous peoples and Amazon rainforest

The report went on to point out now vulnerable indigenous people are to land grabbing disputes, which are aggravated by weak land rights and geographical isolation—indigenous people accounted for 40% of the victims in 2015. One such victim in Brazil was Simeão Vilhalva, a Guarani-Kaiowá native Brazilian from Mato Grosso do Sul, killed as ranchers tried to grab farms occupied by indigenous populations in an area within a Nhanderu Marangatu Indigenous Territory.

Killings in Brazil's Amazon rainforest are also spotlighted in the report. The struggle to save the forest is becoming a growing dispute with criminal organizations that strike terror into local populations. Not even police forces are respected there, Global Witness says.

Last Friday (Jun. 17), for example, during a raid by Brazil's Institute for the Environment (IBAMA) in Jamanxim National Forest, Pará state, a patrol was attacked under open fire, and a Military Police sargeant was killed. According to the Global Witness report, there are many illegal logging fields in the Amazon rainforest, and the timber is sold in the international market.

A collusion between government and business interests shield those responsible for the deaths of activists exposed to land disputes or engaged in environmental protection, and little is done to hold them accountable. Unless there is State intervention, the watchdog warns, the figures will only increase.

Translated by Mayra Borges

Fonte: Brazil tops ranking of environmental activists killed in 2015

Edition: Luana Lourenço / Augusto Queiroz

Latest news