Skip to main content

Environmental battle: British NGO singles out India as one of 16 countries where activists died globally

By Our Representative
India is one of the 16 countries which a British non-profit organization, Global Witness, has identified where environmental activists were killed in the year 2015. In its latest report, titled “On Dangerous Ground”, the top advocacy group has said, of the 117 non-indigenous people who died fighting for environmental rights worldwide, six were Indian.
Giving the five examples of deaths globally it has revealed, the report singles out that of Sandeep Kothari, an Indian journalist, who, it says, “was found burned and beaten to death in Maharashtra state on June 20, 2015,” because he “had written critically on sand mining by local mafia groups in Balaghat district, which the state has allowed to grow unchecked.”
The report says, “Prior to his murder, he had faced considerable threats, including intimidation by the police and spurious legal charges in alleged retribution for his journalism.” Other countries from where examples of similar nature have been chosen are Guatemala, Myanmar, Peru, and Brazil.
“The environment is emerging as a new battleground for human rights”, the report says, adding, “As demand for products like timber, minerals and palm oil continues, governments, companies and criminal gangs are exploiting land with little regard for the people who live on it.”
“Increasingly”, it points out, “Communities that take a stand are finding themselves in the firing line of companies’ private security, state forces and a thriving market for contract killers. The numbers are shocking. We documented 185 killings across 16 countries, a 59% increase on 2014 and the highest annual toll on record.”
“The worst hit countries were Brazil (50 killings), the Philippines (33) and Colombia (26). Mining was the industry most linked to killings of land and environmental defenders with 42 deaths in 2015. Agribusiness, hydroelectric dams and logging were also key drivers of violence”, the report says.
Singling out India as one of the countries where illegal loggers were responsible for 15 killings along with the Philippines, India, Guatemala and Cambodia, the report says, across the globe, “logging trade operates in remote areas with weak law enforcement and often works hand in hand with corrupt local officials”, adding, “Loggers are encroaching into previously untouched areas in the search for high-value timber and coming into conflict with local communities.”
Regretting that the data it has collected, especially from Asia, may be inadequate, the report says, “In 2015, almost 40% of victims were indigenous.” None of those who have been reported killed in 2015 from India belong to the “indigenous” category – tribals.
“There was little evidence that the authorities either fully investigated the crimes, or took actions to bring the perpetrators to account”, the report regrets, adding, “Our findings highlight another alarming trend: while impunity for perpetrators prevails, the criminalization of activists is becoming more commonplace.”
It says, “Governments and powerful business interests use their influence to marginalise defenders and turn public opinion against them, branding their actions as ‘anti-development’... There is growing international awareness of this growing crisis, with many NGOs and human rights experts calling for urgent action.”

Comments

TRENDING

Arrest of Fr Stan Swamy: UN makes public letter seeking explanation from Govt of India

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Government of India (GoI), three senior United Nations (UN) officials – Elina Steinerte, vice-chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mary Lawlor, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Fernand de Varennes, special rapporteur on minority issues – have said that the arrest of veteran activist Father Stan Swamy in October 2020 marks “the escalation of harassment the human rights defender has been subjected to since 2018.”

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Farm laws 'precursor' to free trade deal envisaged by US corporates to allow GMO

By Rajiv Shah Did the Government of India come up with the three farm laws, first rushed by promulgating ordinances in June 2020, to not just open the country’s agricultural sector to the corporate sector but also as a precursor to comply with the requirements of the United States for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as envisaged by the outgoing US president Donald Trump?

Modi govt 'implementing' IMF-envisaged corporate takeover of Indian agriculture

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* The surge of wealth of Indian billionaires and the Modi-led BJP government’s onslaught on poor, marginalised and farmers continue to grow simultaneously as masses face annihilating pandemic of coronavirus. There is 90 % rise of Indian billionaire’s wealth over last one decade. It is not accidental.

Differing from Ambedkar, Kancha Ilaiah holds a 'different' theory of caste system

By Banavath Aravind* I was introduced to Kancha Ilaiah’s work when I was about 20 years old. He was then in the midst of a controversy for a chapter in his book "Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution", which termed the Baniya community as social smugglers. During many of his debates, I had come to notice his undeterred fighting spirit in trying to bring up certain fundamental social issues that were hitherto undiscussed. I eventually came across some of his works and started reading them silently. I’m deliberately stressing upon the word ‘silently’ here, as this was the kind of silence particularly associated with sensitive social issues like caste, religion, etc. But, as I write this essay, I feel silences on sensitive issues should be broken. Ilaiah opened up an entirely new debate that had the vigour and strength to counter the systemic Brahmanism. His methods of research were also novel in terms of going back to the roo

New trend? Riots 'expanded' to new rural areas post-2002 Gujarat carnage: Report

A VHP poster declaring a Gujarat village part of Hindu Rashtra  By Rajiv Shah  Buniyaad, a Gujarat-based civil society organization, engaged in monitoring of communal violence in the state, in a new report, “Peaceful Gujarat: An Illusion or Truth?” has said that a “new trend” has come about in communal violence in the state, where the parts of Gujarat which didn't see communal riots in 2002 are experiencing “regular bouts” of communal violence.

Fr Stan's arrest figures in UK Parliament: Govt says, Indian authorities were 'alerted'

London protest for release of Stan Swamy  By Rajiv Shah Will Father Stan Swamy’s arrest, especially the fact that he is a Christian and a priest, turn out to be major international embarrassment for the Government of India? It may well happen, if a recent debate on a resolution titled “India: Persecution of Minority Groups” in the United Kingdom (UK) Parliament is any indication. While Jesuits have protested Fr Stan's arrest in UK and US, the resolution, adopted in the Parliament, said, “This House has considered the matter of persecution of Muslims, Christians and minority groups in India”.

More than 5,200 Gujarat schools to be closed down, merged, says govt document

RTE Forum, Gujarat, releasing fact-sheet on education By Our Representative A Gujarat government document has revealed that it is planning to close down 5,223 schools in the name of school merger. The document, dated July 20, 201 was released by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Gujarat. It shows that the worst-affected districts because of this merger are those which are populated by marginalized communities – especially tribals, Dalits and minorities, said RTE Forum’s Gujarat convener Mujahid Nafees.

Consumption pattern, not economic shock behind 'poor' child health indicators

By Neeraj Kumar, Arup Mitra* The findings of the latest round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) conducted in 2019-20 covering 22 States/UTs under Phase-I  present a somewhat disappointing picture of children’s health in India. Majority of the experts, based on prima facie evidence, just highlighted the deteriorating sign of child health in terms of increase in proportion of stunted and underweight children in most of the phase-I states/UTs over last two rounds of NFHS (2015-16 to 2019-20).

A new fad in India, coding-for-toddlers culture needs to be 'nipped' in the bud

By Aditya Pandey* We are all aware of the dire consequences of subjecting young kids to intense academic pressure from an early age. In India, we have coaching institutes like FIITJEE and Resonance offering programmes for 6th standard kids to prepare them for “NTSE, IJSO, PRMO and other Olympiads”. The duration of these programmes is around 175 hours – hours that could've been spent playing games and making friends instead.