Report: 200 environmental activists killed globally in 2021

Sep 28, 2022, 9:03 AM | Updated: Sep 29, 2022, 3:27 pm

A Yaqui Indigenous wears a bandana over his mouth as he walks through dust past the cemetery where ...

A Yaqui Indigenous wears a bandana over his mouth as he walks through dust past the cemetery where slain water-defense leader Tomás Rojo is buried in Potam, Mexico, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. Rojo was a descendent of Tetabiate, a Yaqui leader killed in a 1901 battle with the government, which deported the surviving Yaquis to work in slave-like conditions on henequen plantations in far-away Yucatan. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

(AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Some 200 environmental and land defense activists were killed around the world in 2021, including some 54 in Mexico, which assumed the position of the deadliest country in the annual report by nongovernmental organization Global Witness.

More than three-quarters of the killings took place in Latin America, where Colombia, Brazil and Nicaragua also logged double-digit death tolls.

It was the third consecutive year of increases for Mexico and a jump from 30 such activists killed in 2020.

“Most of these crimes happen in places that are far away from power and are inflicted on those with, in many ways, the least amount of power,” the report said.

Global Witness considers its report a baseline, noting “Our data on killings is likely to be an underestimate, given that many murders go unreported, particularly in rural areas and in particular countries.”

The victims died fighting resource exploitation and in land disputes. Conflicts over mining were tied to 27 deaths worldwide, the most for any sector.

Fifteen of those mining-related killings were in Mexico.

In the western Mexico state of Jalisco, José Santos Isaac Chávez was killed in April 2021. He was running for local office and had made opposition to a long-running mine a central part of his campaign. Days before the election, he was found dead in his car, which had been driven off a cliff and his body showed evidence of torture. Armed men had dragged him out of his home and driven him away in his own vehicle.

In April 2021, Sandra Liliana Peña Chocué, an Indigenous governor in southwest Colombia, who had fought for the eradication of coca crops in Caldono, Cauca was killed near her home by armed men. Her murder was condemned by the United Nations, nongovernmental organizations and foreign governments.

Overall, killings of environmental activists in Colombia dropped in 2021 to 33 from 65 the year before. The Philippines saw fewer such killings in 2021 too, 19 compared to 30 in 2020.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, all eight recorded victims were killed inside Virunga National Park.

In November, conservation park ranger Chief Brigadier Etienne Mutazimiza Kanyaruchinya, 48, was killed when 100 heavily armed men, presumed to be former members of the M23 rebel group, attacked a patrol post near the village of Bukima in Congo’s North Kivu Province.

Virunga Park is home to some of the world’s last mountain gorillas, but armed groups such as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, known by its French acronym FDLR, the Mai-Mai and the M23 regularly vie for control of eastern Congo’s natural resources.

Global Witness called on governments to enforce laws that protect activists and require informed consent from Indigenous groups, while also requiring companies to be accountable throughout their global operations and have zero tolerance for attacks on land defenders.

“Activists and communities play a crucial role as a first line of defense against ecological collapse, as well as being frontrunners in the campaign to prevent it,” Global Witness CEO Mike Davis said in the report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


juneteenth shooting texas...

Associated Press

2 killed and 6 wounded in shooting during a Juneteenth celebration in a Texas park

A shooting in a Texas park left two people dead and six wounded, including two children, on Saturday, authorities said.

23 hours ago

Photo: Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Wednesday, J...

Jack Jeffery, The Associated Press

8 Israeli soldiers killed in southern Gaza in deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months

An explosion in Gaza killed eight Israeli soldiers, the military said Saturday, making it the deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months.

2 days ago

Juanita Beach Kirkland...

Kathy McCormack and Nick Perry, The Associated Press

‘Tis the season for swimming and bacteria alerts in lakes, rivers

With summer about to start, many people flocking to their favorite swimming holes may also want to read up on bacteria warnings.

3 days ago

Image: Members of the Makah Indian tribe paddle away from the rising sun as they head from Neah Bay...

Associated Press

Washington’s Makah Tribe clears major hurdle toward resuming traditional whale hunts

The U.S. granted the Makah Indian Tribe a long-sought waiver that helps clear the way for its first sanctioned whale hunts since 1999.

4 days ago

jerry west...

Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press

Jerry West, a 3-time Hall of Fame selection and the NBA logo, dies at 86

Jerry West, a three-time Basketball Hall of Fame inductee whose silhouette is considered to be the basis of the NBA logo, died Wednesday morning.

5 days ago

Photo: Construction vehicles are parked outside of the Station U & O building on Tuesday, June 11, ...

Haleluya Hadero, The Associated Press

Amazon adds $1.4B to affordable housing fund for regions where it has corporate offices

Amazon is adding $1.4B to a fund for building more affordable housing in regions where the company has major corporate offices.

6 days ago

Report: 200 environmental activists killed globally in 2021