Environmentalists and Murder
No, this is not the suspense-filled title of a crime novel. It’s a blog post, talking about an actual event that has happened this year, regarding environmentalists and the work that they do. This is about the Goldman Environmental Prize, and the events surrounding it. The Goldman Prize grassroots environmentalists from the six inhabited continental regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Island and Island Nations, North America and South and Central America. The winners are announced every April, to correspond with World Earth Day. The 2017 $175,000 Goldman prize comes on the heels of rising violence against environmentalists across the globe. Wait, what? Violence against environmentalists? These people are doing the most non-violent thing ever- conserving the environment, maintaining the ecological balance. Then why were they murdered? Among those killed are two previous Goldman prize winners. In January, Mexican anti-logger Isido Baldenegro, who won the prize in 2005, was assassinated by gunmen. Honduran activist Berta Caceres, campaigner for indigenous rights, won the prize in 2015 and was assassinated last year. This year, a Congolese Park Ranger, a land rights activist from Guatemala, and an Australian who stopped a coal mining company from usurping her familys farm were among the six awardees this year. Lorrae Rominger, director of the Goldman Prize, laments the fact that environmentalists are being targeted for their work. Global Witness, a UK based campaign group, says that more than three environment and land rights activists were killed a week in 2015, as opposed to two per week in 2014. Rominger also stated that everyone being targeted is an activist fighting against ‘powerful interests’. It’s not very hard to guess what those ‘powerful interests’ are. We’ve all read about them in newspapers, books, novels and seen them in movies. These are activists fighting uber-wealthy corporate bodies which will go to any length to protect their commercial interests- which more often than not come at the cost of environment. This year’s winners cite danger as a way of life for activists protecting nature. Rodriguo Katembo, an activist from Democratic Republic of Congo, went underground to expose the corrupt activites of an oil company trying to drill in a protected area. As part of the investigation, he was arrested and tortured for 17 days. Rodrigo Tot, a Goldman winner and land rights activist from Guatemala, says one of his sons was killed because of his activism. These revelations are coming at a time when in the US, the EPA is being cut down to size, laws being passed which gives big companies the right to desecrate environment for profits, in the name of ‘economic development’, climate science being dismissed as ‘junk science’ and evidence of environmental desecration by industries being ignored.