Here are some of the brave souls who gave their lives in 2019 in defense of the environment. There have been an increasing number of environmental activists murdered in recent years. Many of the murders in 2019 took place in Brazil which is currently being ruled by far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. In Brazil a total of 56 defenders were assassinated in 2017 alone. At least eight land defenders were killed in 2018 in the Brazilian state of Para alone.
Since becoming president Bolsonaro has all but declared war on the Amazon and the indigenous people of Brazil.Tashka Yawanawa, a chief of the indigenous Yawanawa people in the Brazilian Amazon says his community is facing “genocide”. Some have suggested that the fires in Brazil are a form of genocide.
There are also concerns that Guatamalan Mayans could be facing genocide. By January 2019 reports surfaced that indicated Guatemala’s community leaders were being killed for defending their land from from transnational companies. This comes after four decades of civil war that left more than 200,000 causalities, most of them indigenous Guatemalans. This has been described by some Guatemalan courts as genocide. In 2018 there were hundreds of attacks and dozens of murders in Guatemala. One such murder was that of 25 year old Ixil Maya nurse, Juana Raymundo, near the city of Nebaj. Raymundo was one of 20 similar murders that took place in Guatemala in the summer of 2018. Many of those that end up on U.S. borders are Guatemalans fleeing violence.
The killings continued in Guatemala in 2019. In July, Jorge Juc a 77-year-old indigenous Maya Q’eqchi’ community leader was hacked to death with machetes while he tended his cornfield in eastern Guatemala. Isidro Pérez and Melecio Ramírez were two more Guatemalan activists who were killed in July. These two indigenous rights activists and land protectors were murdered in Eastern Guatemala while attending a peaceful action.
Also in July, dozens of armed gold miners murdered Emyra Wajãpia Waiapi, he was the leader of Yvytotõ an indigenous village in northern Brazil. In September Maxciel Pereira dos Santos, a defender of Brazil’s indigenous tribes was executed in the Amazon town of Tabatinga.
In October five indigenous leaders were massacred in the southwestern region of Cauca in Colombia.
Cristina Bautista, chief of the Nasa Tacueyó reservation and four of the community’s unarmed guards were killed, 6 others were wounded. In the last four years at least 700 social leaders, mostly Afro-Colombian and indigenous activists, have been murdered in Colombia.
In November, illegal loggers murdered Paulo Paulino Guajajara an Amazon Forest Guardian inside the Araribóia reservation in the northeastern state of Maranhão, Brazil. His partner was also injured but managed to escape. Not all of these murders occurred in central and south America many also took place in Asia, most notably in the Philippines and India. Poachers have also taken a toll on rangers in Africa. In November Ranger Kambale Kasuki Jean Aimé was ambushed and killed by armed assailants near Ngwenda village (Rutshuru Territory). One of the truck drivers was also murdered and a second ranger sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
The Rising Toll of Murdered Environmental Activists
Remembering Berta on International Women’s Day
The Slaughter of Innocents: Our Complicity in the Murder of Environmentalists
Activists Opposing Illegal Logging Murdered in Peru
Environmentalists Continue to be Murdered or Silenced by Courts All Around the World
The Persecution of Environmentalists
Another Amazon Environmentalist Killed (Video)
Environmentalists Murdered for Protecting the Amazon
Murder of Two Environmentalists in the Amazon (Video)