Killings of environmentalists appear to be on rise

first_img Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Parents, stop beating yourself up Environmental groups say it is time to build a comprehensive database of such violence and mount unified campaigns.“In Asia there has been a rise for some years but this has been off the radar of international NGOs until recently,” says Pokpong Lawansiri, Asia head for the Dublin-based Front Line Defenders. “Political rights activists usually have international connections but environmental ones are often teachers, community leaders and villagers, so they have little profile.”Robertson called for “a waves-to-the-beach strategy. It can be small and irregular but it always has to keep coming.”“Without that constant level of concern and anger, things won’t change. Governments and companies play for time and for most of the victims and their families time is not on their side,” he said.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like 0 Comments   Share   More than three-quarters of the killings Global Witness tallied were in three South American countries: Brazil, Colombia and Peru. Another 50 deaths occurred in the Philippines. All have bloody land-rights struggles between indigenous groups and powerful industries.Global Witness’ figures are much higher that those that Bill Kovarik, a communications professor at Virginia’s Radford University, has been compiling since 1996. He focuses on slayings of environmental leaders and does not include deaths in protests that are counted in the Global Witness report. But Kovarik, too, has noticed a substantial jump: from eight in 2009 to 11 in 2010 and 28 last year.“For many years intolerant regimes like Russia and China and military dictatorships tolerated environmental activists. That was the one thing you could do safely, until some crossed into the political area,” Kovarik said. “Now, environmentalism has become a dangerous form of activism, and that is relatively new.”Both Kovarik and Global Witness believe even more killings have gone unreported, especially in relatively closed societies in countries such as Myanmar, Laos and China. Global Witness said there is an “alarming lack of systematic information on killing in many countries and no specialized monitoring at the international level.” Top Stories The dead last year included Rev. Fausto Tentorio, an Italian Catholic priest who fought against mining companies to protect the ancestral lands of the Manobo tribe in the southern Philippines. Affectionately known as “Father Pops,” he was buried in a coffin made from a favorite mahogany tree he had planted.In Thailand, where at least 20 environmental activists have been killed over the past decade, seven hired gunmen were paid $10,000 to kill Thongnak Sawekchinda, a veteran campaigner against polluting, coal-fired factories in his province near Bangkok. Powerful figures believed to have ordered the slaying are yet to be apprehended.In developing countries, bolder and more numerous activists have come into sharper conflict with governments and their cronies or local and foreign companies, some with low environmental and ethical standards. These are moving in to “industrialize” areas where rights of the local people are traditional rather than clearly defined by modern laws.“It is a well-known paradox that many of the world’s poorest countries are home to the resources that drive the global economy. Now, as the race to secure access to these resources intensifies, it is poor people and activists who increasingly find themselves in the firing line,” Global Witness said. New high school in Mesa lets students pick career pathslast_img read more

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