Calls to protect Planet Earth are growing louder each day and though international conventions draft out great polices to mitigate the already acute earth’s crisis, very little effective actions are implemented on the ground to match the spirit of these conventions. As if this wasn’t bad enough, those standing up to defend the human race through the services they render in protecting and conserving the earth are now been silenced even with death.
The International Community and the governments across the world must step-up their game on the environment and avoid the protracted lip service that had so far only helped to jeopardise the safety of environmental activists in some undemocratic nations.
It is shocking that these few who have taken upon the responsibility to protect planet earth and ensure humanity’s habitation on a healthy environment, are exposed to various assaults including death. This is becoming a worrying trend the world over. It is now common to hear of environmental activists, individuals or in groups, attacked and in some cases, murdered for standing up to protect important lands and water bodies.
According to the Global Witness’ Report of July 2019, entitled, “Enemies of the State”, a total of 164 environmental and land rights activists were murdered in 2018; giving an average of about three murders per week with Asia recording the highest killings. DR Congo was tagged with the highest assassinations in Africa and featured as the 7th nation on the list of the top 20 hostile countries with negative records on violence and killings of Environmental Activists while South America was listed as, the most antagonistic place for environmental and water activists, as stated by the report.
The report also highlighted how countless more people were threatened, arrested or thrown in jail for daring to oppose governments or companies seeking to profit from their lands. Mining and extractives, Agribusiness, water dams, and logging were the top four sectors responsible for the violence, among many others. What is more worrying is the fact that most of these violence occurred in areas without press freedoms, and in nations with authoritarian governments, who most often than not, would brand peaceful protesters as terrorists in order to justify their barbaric actions.
WRA condemns these killings and violence perpetrated against environmental and water activists in the strongest of terms and calls on all NGO’s, civil society organisations and human right activists to keep speaking and pressurizing governments that are involved in this growing trend. It is likely that more assaults and violence, including the execution of activists, would be recorded if these vices remain unchecked by the international community. This is because there is already an existing climate crisis, rapid depletion of forests, the degradation of eco-systems and unprecedented population growth which will increase the demand for the already scarce natural resources in most of these areas.
Source: Selorm Aglagoh
WRA Project Coordinator