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Mexico: 161 personas defensoras de DH asesinadas en sexenio que termina, sembradores de esperanza: Red TDT

161 personas defensoras de DH asesinadas en sexenio que termina, sembradores de esperanza: Red TDT

  • El Informe Desde la Memoria… la esperanza, documenta 159 a las que se sumaron dos en noviembre con lo que totalizan 161 en el sexenio, más 40 periodistas.
  • Como Red TDT, a lo largo de este sexenio documentamos como el Estado mexicano no ha sido capaz de responder a la crisis de violencia contra las personas defensoras de derechos humanos.
  • Guerrero, Oaxaca y Chihuahua los estados más peligrosos para ejercer la defensa de derechos humanos

CDMX | 29 Nov 2018 | La defensa de derechos humanos no es un privilegio en sí misma como acusan furibundos sus detractores. Tampoco es algo dispensable, algo que debamos desear que se extinga, como opinan otros. La defensa de derechos humanos es una opción por la vida y la libertad. En ese sentido podemos afirmar que las personas defensoras somos facilitadoras de la esperanza, porque desde nuestras trincheras diversas luchamos por la dignidad y la justicia. Eso es lo que nos une: la esperanza.

Resulta pavorosamente contradictorio que teniendo esta noción de esperanza, hoy estemos aquí para hablar de las 161 personas defensoras y 40 periodistas asesinadas de manera impune entre diciembre de 2012 y noviembre de 2018. Esto demuestra de manera contundente que el sexenio que termina fue letal para las voces disidentes: datos dolorosos, que se vuelven vidas desgarradas para un país que se ostenta democrático y que, oficialmente, no se encuentra en guerra.

El mensaje es claro: se busca inhibir la lucha por la justicia y por los derechos. Pero ¿Está cifra inaceptable significa que ya no hay lugar para la esperanza? ¿significa que debemos huir, escondernos y tratar de proteger nuestra vida a cambio de lo que nos une como pueblos, como colectividades: como personas?

De ninguna manera

Como Red respondemos a esta realidad con convicción de esperanza y de memoria. Eso nos han enseñado pueblos, comunidades y víctimas. Hoy estamos aquí para conmemorar la esperanza y retomar la estafeta de las tantas luchas que nuestra sociedad requiere. Hoy estamos aquí para decirles a nuestras compañeras y compañeros que su muerte no es ni será inútil. No lo permitiremos.

Por eso queremos dejar constancia clara de la impunidad que el Estado ha ofrecido a estas víctimas. Según solicitudes de información hechas a Procuradurías/Fiscalías, solo el 3% de los casos de personas defensoras asesinadas se encuentran judicializados. Las investigaciones por asesinato de personas defensoras, activistas, líderes sociales suelen ignorar su actividad como causa del asesinato.

Como Red TDT, a lo largo de este sexenio documentamos como el Estado mexicano no ha sido capaz de responder a la crisis de violencia contra las personas defensoras de derechos humanos. Su respuesta se ha limitado a la acción del Mecanismo de Protección para Personas Defensoras y Periodistas operado por la Secretaría de Gobernación, que tiene solo medidas reactivas y no obedece a las necesidades específicas de las personas beneficiarias. Este año, incluso, el Fideicomiso que dota de recursos al Mecanismo se quedó sin recursos, colocando en mayor situación de riesgo a 727 personas defensoras y periodistas.

La situación tiene matices importantes:

  • Por lo menos 42 de 159 personas defensoras asesinadas pertenecían a un pueblo indígena, entre los que se encuentran: yaqui, rarámuri, wixarika, purépecha, nahua, zapoteco, mixe, mixteco, tzotzil, triqui.
  • Según la documentación los estados más peligrosos para defender los derechos humanos son: Guerrero (28% de los casos), Oaxaca (20%) y Chihuahua (11%).
  • El 40% de las personas asesinadas eran defensores/as comunitarios/as, es decir, ejercían su derecho a defender derechos humanos en su comunidad o entorno más cercano. Gran parte de estos se enfocaban en la defensa de DESCA y Tierra y territorio.

El Saldo de este sexenio es de más de 37 mil personas desaparecidas y casi 120 mil asesinadas, 8 feminicidios diarios, una crisis migratoria sin precedentes, más de 500 conflictos socioambientales, así como casos emblemáticos de violaciones graves de derechos humanos (Tlatlaya, Ayotzinapa, Nochixtlán) y de corrupción en las altas esferas de gobierno (Casa Blanca, Odebrecht, Estafa Maestra).

La lucha de todas estas personas fue interrumpida de forma violenta, pero no así sus ideales y sus convicciones, no sus sueños ni la memoria de su lucha justa por un mundo diferente.

Ahí está la esperanza.

En todas esas personas que durante y ahora tras estos 6 años persisten en la defensa de derechos humanos, en este servicio por la vida. La esperanza está en los aprendizajes, logros y siembras de aquellas personas que aunque ya no están, continúan presentes en su espíritu combativo y digno.

Para más información y contacto:
Quetzalcoatl g. Fontanot
comunicacion@redtdt.org.mx
cel 551796 6731

MAJOR NEW REPORT BY FRONT LINE DEFENDERS AND THE HRD MEMORIAL EXPOSES THE DRAMATIC ESCALATION IN THE NUMBERS OF HRDS KILLED IN RECENT YEARS.

REPORT EXPOSES DRAMATIC RISE IN THE NUMBER OF ACTIVIST KILLINGS
Front Line Defenders and the HRD Memorial Network have documented more 1000 targeted killings of peaceful human rights defenders (HRDs) since 2014, according to a new joint report, Stop the Killings, which analyses lethal attacks on activists in six countries. Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and the Philippines collectively account for more than 80 percent of all documented murders of HRDs. In Colombia alone, nearly 100 human rights defenders have been killed already this year.

Front Line Defenders Executive Director, Andrew Anderson, talks here about why the killing of HRDs is such a critical issue.

The killings are not random. According to Front Line Defenders, the targeted elimination of peaceful activists defending human rights has become an epidemic. In its 2017 Annual Report, Front Line Defenders reported the killing of more than 300 HRDs in 27 countries. Two-thirds of those killed were defending the environment, land and indigenous peoples’ rights, often in remote, rural areas with little access to protection, documentation, reporting, and justice. Based on available data, a mere 12 percent of murders resulted in the arrest of suspects.

“In each of the countries where death tolls are soaring, economic corruption and collusion between state and business have resulted in political system designed to keep elites on top and the disenfranchised silent,” said Jim Loughran, Head of the HRD Memorial Project at Front Line Defenders. “For decades, the governments of Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and the Philippines have been using the same tired and disingenuous excuses to justify their inaction – terrorism organised crime, drug gangs. They peddle the myth that with increased arms they will be able to fix the situation. This simplistic and dangerous analysis ignores corruption as the root cause of violence.”

Stop the Killings includes a chapter on each of the six countries written in collaboration with at-risk activists on the ground, who on a daily basis face severe threats for documenting and advocating against the rising violence. Despite social and political differences, each of the six countries suffer the violent repression of peaceful dissent and justice systems co-opted by corporate interest.

The report also calls out the hypocrisy of Western governments who ostensibly support democracy and human rights, but continue to provide direct financial and security assistance to some of the most repressive regimes in the world.
“In all of the countries featured in this report there has been extensive funding, training and the provision of weaponry, surveillance equipment and technical support to the police, intelligence and military forces implicated in the killing of HRDs,” said Andrew Anderson,Front Line Defenders Executive Director. “Corrupt dictators and populist authoritarians have been emboldened to attack not just HRDs but the very idea of universal human
rights.”

Among the key drivers of killings and violence against HRDs detailed in the report are:

 smear and defamation campaigns against HRDs, who are accused of being “anti-
state,” “anti-development,” and violent or destablising forces;

 economic policies which prioritise the ruthless exploitation of natural resources over
the protection of the environment and the land;

 refusal to recognise and protect rights of campesino communities and
indigenous peoples;

 lack of effective systems to document and investigate attacks on HRDs and provide
protection;

 collusion by the state and/or its agents in the killing of HRDs.

For further information, contact:
Erin Kilbride
+353857423767
erin@frontlinedefenders.org

EDITORIAL NOTE
The HRD Memorial (www.hrdmemorial.org), developed by a coalition of national and international human rights organisations, collects case data and commemorates human rights defenders (HRDs) who have been killed since 1998, the year the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders was adopted by consensus. For the first time ever, the HRD Memorial website and database begins to give a true picture of the scale of killings of HRDs. The HRD Memorial aims to be not just a memorial and database, but also a celebration of the life, work and achievements of the HRDs who have been killed because of their peaceful human rights work.

SELECTED REPORT DATA
Brazil: The Dom Tomás Balduino Documentation Centre – CPT, documented the killing of 66 HRDs in 2016. In 2017, there was an increase in the number of mass killings, such that of the 70 killings recorded that year, 28 HRDs, forty percent, were killed during a massacre.

Colombia: Although the peace agreement between the government and FARC rebels brought with it the lowest rate of killings among the general population in the last 30 years, the number of killings of HRDs increased dramatically. The situation in 2018 has not improved – nearly 100 HRDs were killed in the first half of 2018.

Guatemala: Defamation campaigns against HRDs, the absence of protection for HRDs and the failure to adequately investigate attacks has created a situation in which HRDs are killed with impunity. In its Annual Reports for 2014 to 2017, Front Line Defenders reported a combined total of 45 HRDs were killed in Guatemala. Nineteen HRDs have been killed so far this year; nine were members of the same human rights organisation, CODECA.

Honduras: From 2014 to 2017,Front Line Defenders documented a total of 64 HRDs killed in this four year period. In contrast to the figure for 2016, the number of HRDs killed in 2017 was significantly lower; however, this is linked to the international outcry over the killing of Berta Cáceres rather than a real improvement in the human rights situation.

Mexico: From June 2016 to May 2017, there were 1,442 attacks on HRDs in Mexico, which translates into 4 attacks per day. In the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca alone, two HRDs are attacked each day. In the period 2013-2018 there
were 144 killings of HRDs, 31 in Oaxaca alone. In 2017, 48 HRDs were killed; 58% fell into 4 main categories: HRDs defending freedom of expression and journalism ; HRDs defending the rights of indigenous peoples; HRDs defending territorial/land rights; HRDs defending the right to a decent standard of living . Twenty-seven
HRDs have been killed in the first 6 months of 2018.

The Philippines: Extrajudicial executions remain the gravest threat facing HRDs in the Philippines where HRDs have long been targeted: 474 HRDs were killed during the Arroyo presidency (2001-2010), and 139 during the Aquino presidency (2010-2016). This is continuing into the present. In its 2017 Annual Report , Front Line Defenders reported the killing of 60 HRDs in the Philippines, making it the country with the highest number of killings of HRDs outside of the Americas and nearly doubling the figure from the previous year.
ENDS

Blog: “What is happening now across the world is nothing less than a systematic attack on peasant communities and indigenous peoples”.

 

BLOG originally published by the Rights and Resources Initiative in  conjunction with a new report by the UN special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz.

“What is happening now across the world is nothing less than a systematic attack on peasant communities and indigenous peoples”.

Andrew Anderson

Executive Director

Front Line Defenders

  • YouTube - Black Circle

FRONT LINE DEFENDERS has documented 821 human rights defenders (HRDs) who have been killed in the four years since we started producing an annual global list in cooperation with national and international NGOs. Seventy-nine percent of this total came from six countries: Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and the Philippines. The vast majority of these cases have never been properly investigated, and few of the perpetrators of the killings have been brought to justice. Political and economic power across these countries is controlled and manipulated by an entrenched elite, with close links to the army and the security services, who block reform initiatives to protect their own interests, and are often behind targeted attacks on HRDs who expose their corruption or oppose their exploitation.

According to the Carnegie Endowment for Democracy, “It is no longer possible to think of corruption as just the iniquitous doings of individuals, be they street-level bribe payers, government officials, or business executives. Corruption is the operating system of sophisticated networks that link together public and private sectors and out-and-out criminals—including killers—whose main objective is maximising returns for network members. Corruption is built into the functioning of such countries’ institutions.”

The lethal combination of entrenched violence, state indifference to attacks against HRDs, and the lack of investigations into complaints, creates a situation in which HRDs are killed with impunity. An analysis of the work done by those killed is instructive: of those killed in 2017, 67 percent were engaged in the defence of land, environmental, and Indigenous Peoples’ rights, and nearly always in the context of mega projects linked to extractive industries and big business.

It is important also to note that those who are killed are predominantly those activists who come from poorer or more marginalized backgrounds. The level of discrimination and racism faced by Indigenous Peoples and other marginalized communities is an important part of the context. The contempt and hatred of corrupt elites for those they consider to be their inferiors is a factor in the use of extreme violence against those who get in their way.

BRAZIL

Indigenous Peoples and traditional communities are routinely marginalized in Brazilian society.

Their lands and territories are usurped by land grabbers, farmers, and by the state itself. While a number of laws protecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples came into effect following the introduction of the 1988 Constitution, the fact remains that after more than 25 years, there is still much to be done to implement these rights, especially with regard to access to and recovery of land.  Even the limited progress achieved to date is under threat from government proposals to reduce the amount of Indigenous Peoples’ land and to undermine the work of FUNAI[1] and INCRA[2] (the bodies responsible for protecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples) to demarcate and grant titles to Indigenous Peoples’ land.

The violence against Indigenous Peoples in the state of Maranhão, which is home to the Gamela people, is typical of the crisis across the country. There are currently some 376 communities in the state of Maranhão that are experiencing rural violence and conflict. In 2016 alone, 196 incidents of violence against rural communities were reported. Maranhão was the state with the highest number of murdered Indigenous Peoples in 2016. In Bahia, the Tupinambá Indigenous Peoples suffer all kinds of prejudice and physical and cultural violence. Death threats are constant and their leaders are persecuted, attacked, and imprisoned.

The failure of the state to acknowledge or address the issue of attacks on Quilombola (Afro-descendant) and Indigenous Peoples and their leaders indicates that there is a real risk of these Indigenous Peoples being further marginalized in order for their lands to be appropriated to facilitate the exploitation of their natural resources. The Indigenous Peoples of Brazil and their leaders are more at risk now than at any time in their recent history.

COLOMBIA

In Colombia most of the HRDs killed were working in defence of the right to land or to protect the territory of Indigenous Peoples.

At particular risk are members of ethnic minorities, peasant communities, Indigenous Peoples, people of African descent, or members of local community action boards in rural areas. These murders are committed in places where the presence of the state is limited and people cannot fully exercise their human rights. In terms of the official response, state officials need to take into account the impact of a killing not just on the immediate family of the HRD, but also on the broader community. As a result of killings, and the general climate of violence, communities are displaced, families are broken up and lose their means of earning their livelihood.

The departments with the highest number of killings of HRDs are Cauca, Antioquia, Valle del Cauca, Nariño, Córdoba, Bogotá, Putumayo, Norte de Santander, Risaralda, Bolívar, Chocó, Meta, Huila, and Arauca. Ninety percent of these territories have been historically affected by the armed conflict. Despite the peace process, abuses such as the targeted killing of members of Afro-Colombian communities and Indigenous Peoples, collective forced displacements, confinement of communities to certain areas, forced recruitment of children into paramilitary groups, sexual violence, and the use of anti-personnel mines persist in these areas.

GUATEMALA

The ruling elite in Guatemala use their entrenched political and economic power to exploit the natural resources of the country for their own benefit and to block any initiative for reform.

Peasant communities and Indigenous Peoples who defend their right to the land or who campaign to protect the environment from the devastation caused by large scale mining projects are the target of smear campaigns and direct attacks. Indigenous Peoples who insist on their right to free, prior, and informed consent are particularly at risk. This has provoked acts of aggression and violence across the country, in which HRDs have been killed.  In January 2017, 72-year-old Sebastián Alonzo was shot dead when unidentified gunmen opened fire on a peaceful demonstration against a proposed major hydroelectric scheme.

There have also been numerous instances of criminalization of HRDs, such as the case of Professor Abelino Chub Caal. On June 6, 2017, the judge of the Criminal Court of First Instance of Puerto Barrios ruled that Abelino should remain in detention even though both the defence and the prosecution had agreed that no evidence had been found against the HRD to justify the charges of aggravated land grabbing and arson. Abelino works with 29 communities in Sierra Santa Cruz, Izabal, whose land, environmental, and cultural rights are threatened by mining interests.

HONDURAS

Since the 2009 military coup in Honduras, the perpetrators of violations against defenders of environmental, land, and Indigenous Peoples’ rights are often influential landowners or logging companies.

Quite apart from the violence linked to repression of the protests against alleged election fraud, Honduras has continued to be one of the most dangerous countries in the Americas generally for HRDs, especially those who work for the protection of the rights to land and territory, or the protection of the environment. HRDs working on these issues are smeared as being anti-development and an obstacle to the exploitation of the economic resources of the country. They are targets of defamatory campaigns, orchestrated both by state and non-state actors to discredit their work. They are frequently intimidated, threatened, and attacked.

In June 2017, members of the Honduran Civic Council of Peoples and Indigenous Organisations (Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras – COPINH) were the target of an armed attack when they were driving back from a meeting. COPINH is an indigenous Lenca organization representing 200 Lenca communities in the western Honduran states of Intibuca, Lempira, La Paz, and Santa Barbara. It has defended communities and their natural resources from logging, dams, mining projects, and other mega projects that would destroy their way of life and the environment. There have been continuing attacks, threats, and intimidation against COPINH members and supporters, which have intensified following the murder of Berta Cáceres on March 3, 2016.

The case of Berta Cáceres encapsulates the many problems that HRDs face in Honduras. Berta Cáceres, General Coordinator of COPINH, was killed in March 2016 by armed men who broke in to her home in La Esperanza, Intibuca Department. Berta Cáceres was an internationally-recognized leader of a campaign against the environmental and health impacts of the building of the Agua Zarca dam on the Gualcarque River. Berta had reported 33 death threats to the authorities and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights had called on the government to intervene to protect her. Police did not investigate any of the threats against her prior to her assassination. In May 2017, the authorities detained five men for their alleged participation in Berta’s killing, including an army major and the official responsible for social and environmental affairs of the company contracted to build the Agua Zarca dam. The prosecutor maintained that the killing formed part of a conspiracy by the company.

In September 2017, a sixth person was detained and in March 2018, Honduran authorities arrested Robert David Castillo, executive president of Desarrollos Energéticos Ltd (DESA), as the alleged intellectual author of the killing of Berta. However, the investigation has been marked by numerous irregularities. According to local media, the case file, which contained evidence against various suspects, was stolen from the judge’s vehicle on September 29, 2017. Although the Supreme Court of Justice announced that it had copies of the case file, the manner in which the government handled the incident was heavily criticized. The International Advisory Group, in its report into the killing of Berta, concluded that senior business executives and Honduran officials had coordinated her murder, underscoring the extent of criminal collusion between the state and private enterprise.

MEXICO

Serious human rights violations against Indigenous Peoples and communities in Mexico occur in three main areas: violence in the context of mega projects on ancestral lands and territories authorized without the due process to ensure free, prior, and informed consultation and consent; in the context of title claims affecting their land; or the lack of due process in criminal cases against HRDs.

Indigenous Peoples have repeatedly denounced the granting of state concessions to private companies in violation of their right to prior consultation. As a result of the struggle for their lands there have been repeated attempts to criminalize the work of defenders of Indigenous Peoples’ rights, who are portrayed as obstacles to the economic development of the country. In both 2016 and 2017, 37 percent of the HRDs killed were indigenous activists.

THE PHILIPPINES

During an Indigenous Peoples’ Summit in Davao City in the Philippines on February 1, 2018, President Duterte stated that Lumads (Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines) should leave their ancestral domains as he would broker investors, particularly in palm oil or mining, to invest in these lands.

“We’ll start now, and tomorrow I will give something to you. Prepare yourselves for relocation,” came his cryptic warning. Lumad leaders are concerned that the harassment their communities experience is due to this plan. In the past two decades, nearly 500,000 hectares in Mindanao have been swamped with large-scale mining, agribusiness, and energy projects.

Now the move is towards the ancestral lands of Indigenous Peoples, which are rich in natural resources, offering developers the potential for large profits. In one incident in December 2017, eight Lumad people were killed in what was initially presented as an armed confrontation with the army, but according to an independent investigation conducted by the Philippine church and human rights groups, was in fact a mass killing.

The main target of the attack was Victor Danyan, killed because he was vocal in his community’s claim to a contested piece of land. It appears that Victor was deliberately targeted to silence dissent in the area. Victor was chairman of Tamasco, a tribal group formed in 2006 to reclaim 1,700-hectares of ancestral land that was planted with coffee. The organization was also protesting against coal mining operations on their ancestral land.

Army claims of having been the target of an armed attack have been discredited by the evidence collected by Dr. Benito Molino, a forensic expert who said “at least 300 empty and live shells from M14 and M16 rifles were recovered from various sites where soldiers apparently fired their weapons.” He concluded that, “there was no clash—all the shooting came from the army”.

What is happening now across the world is nothing less than a systematic attack on peasant communities and Indigenous Peoples. In their insatiable greed for wood and oil and gold the corrupt elites, who have no ambition beyond their own enrichment, risk not only destroying the lives and culture of Indigenous Peoples, but also destroying the environment on which our collective future survival depends.

[1] Fundação Nacional do Índio

[2] Instituto Nacional de Colonização e Reforma Agrária

Colombia: Stunning visualisation of killings of social leaders between January 2016 and July 2018

Published on Jul 25, 2018

Visualización geográfica del asesinato de líderes sociales en Colombia entre enero de 2016 y Julio de 2018, a partir de datos recolectados en sitios Web de diversos medios de comunicación, tomando como base la información publicada por el programa Somos Defensores https://somosdefensores.org y el portal Verdad Abierta
https://verdadabierta.com Herramientas: vue.js y d3.js con interacción en el navegador. Data visualization project that shows the geographic location of the murder of social leaders in Colombia between January 2016 and July 2018, based on data collected from news websites and the information published by “Somos Defensores”
https://somosdefensores.org and “Verdad Abierta” https://verdadabierta.com Tools: vue.js and d3.js so it is an interactive infographic to be used in the browser Created by Pacarina Media Lab http://www.pacarina.com
Music by Paul Kraemer.

India: Dalit activism: the “God of Small Things” and endemic discrimination

God of Small Things

Arundhati Roy’s 1996 novel drew international attention to the plight of India’s Dalit community, Formerly known as “untouchables,” Dalits suffer endemic discrimination and are systematically denied access to public spaces and resources. Over a decade after the book’s publication this situation has worsened, as has that of Dalit human rights defenders (HRDs.)

Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, has said that “Indian authorities have proven themselves unwilling to protect minority religious communities and other vulnerable groups from frequent attack.” According to the National Crimes Records Bureau, crimes against Dalits occurred every 15 minutes on average in 2016, an increase over 2015 figures. Tallies by NGOs and news organisations suggest that the upward trend has intensified throughout 2017 and 2018. Dalit women are particularly vulnerable to abuses. Conviction rates for crimes against Dalits are extremely low in certain regions; the state of Maharashtra, for example, stands at less than 5%. Photojournalist Sudharak Olwe’s ongoing case study of crimes against Dalits in this state found that in most incidents, “the victim was involved in either emancipatory work for his community or struggling to make his life better.”

The spike in abuses may in fact be a response to Dalits’ increasing assertion of their rights, according to Dalit HRD Asif Shaikh. In March of this year, a Supreme Court judgement claimed that a law which offers significant legal recourse for Dalits was used “as an instrument to blackmail or to wreak personal vengeance”. Nationwide protests, referred to by Al Jazeera as a Dalit Spring, followed. Though they began peacefully, demonstrations were met with violence; 11 people were killed.

In May, Sachin Walia was shot dead. His brother Kamal is a leader in the Bhim Army, an organization that works for Dalit emancipation through education. A month after Sachin’s killing, five Dalit HRDs were arrested and may face life in prison for allegedly inciting caste violence. Urgent action appeals have been issued for dozens of other violations of Dalit HRDs’ rights.

Violence against Dalits is often framed as nothing new, which may actually be fuelling the increase in abuses. It is more important than ever to support the empowerment of this community, remembering Dalit leader BR Ambedker’s words: “ rights are protected not by law but by social and moral conscience of the society. If social conscience is such that it is prepared to recognise the rights which law proposes to enact, rights will be safe and secure.”

Sources

https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/asia-and-the-pacific/india/report-india/

https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/06/24/india-dalit-rights-activists-detained

https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2018/country-chapters/india

http://www.ncdhr.org.in/latestinterventions/Report%20UN%20SR%20HRD.doc

http://ncrb.gov.in/StatPublications/CII/CII2016/pdfs/NEWPDFs/Crime%20in%20India%20-%202016%20Complete%20PDF%20291117.pdf

https://www.theweek.in/news/india/2018/04/07/bhim-army-bharat-bandh-dalit-mass-arrest-april-18.html

https://thewire.in/politics/bhim-army-leaders-brother-shot-and-killed-in-saharanpur-tension-prevails

https://www.ucanews.com/news/life-worsens-for-indias-dalits-as-vigilantism-resurfaces/82568

Global Witness Annual Report: The world is deadlier than ever for land and environmental defenders, with agribusiness the industry most linked to killings

It has never been a deadlier time to defend one’s community, way of life, or environment. Our latest annual data into violence against land and environmental defenders shows a rise in the number of women and men killed last year to 207 – the highest total we have ever recorded. What’s more, our research has highlighted agribusiness including coffee, palm oil and banana plantations as the industry most associated with these attacks

Download the report in full: At What Cost? (PDF, 3MB)

Read online: photos and stories of defenders around the world

Hear the voices of environmental and land rights defenders – click below

Hernán Bedoya, from Colombia, was shot by a paramilitary group 14 times for protesting against palm oil and banana plantations that were expanding over his community’s territory and clearing the forest.

In the Philippines, after protesting the expansion of a coffee plantation, a community near Lake Sebu was attacked by military forces, leaving eight dead, five wounded, and forcing 200 to flee.

And in Brazil, farmers assaulted the indigenous Gamela community after they attempted to protect their land from logging, severely injuring 22, including children.

But it’s not just defenders in these countries who are being threatened, attacked, or killed for fighting to protect their land and way of life. Countless people around the world are under threat for standing up to the might of large corporations, paramilitary groups, and even their own governments.

The data we have painstakingly gathered and presented in this report and the case studies included are almost certainly a sizeable underestimate, given the many challenges in identifying and reporting killings. Yet even as it stands, it shows that the risks defenders face every day continue to grow, and governments and business have a very serious case to answer.

The global movement

Of the 207 defenders murdered last year, a vast majority of them hailed from Latin America, which remains the most dangerous region for defenders, accounting for 60% of those killed in 2017. Brazil saw 57 murders alone – the worst year on record anywhere in the world.

But not a single region was immune to the growing number of attacks on its defenders. The Philippines saw 48 defenders killed, the highest number ever in an Asian country. And in Africa, 19 defenders were reported killed, 12 of whom were in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Defenders 2018 - Country Killings

 

You can find the English Spanish and Portuguese versions of the report here

Global Witness

T: +44 (0) 20 7492 5827 | M: +44 (0)7703 671 308
Skype: falconkyte | Twitter: @BillyKyteGW |www.globalwitness.org

FIND THE FACTS | EXPOSE THE STORY | CHANGE THE SYSTEM

Colombia: 19 Social Leaders Killed in 1 Month, 100 in 2018

Source Telesur

Various human rights and social organizations have demanded that the Colombian Government implement effective measures to prevent the wide-scale killing of social leaders.

From June 1 to July 3, some 19 social, community, Indigenous and Campesino leaders and activists have been killed in Colombia, multiple national and international organizations have reported.

Leonedis Sierra Ortiz, a 25-year-old community activist from Antioquia, Luis Cuarto Barrios Machado, a 55-year-old president of the citizen control oversight of Palmar Varela and Hector Santiago Anteliz, a 52-year-old member of the  Community Action Board (JAC), are among the victims.

Since the beginning of 2018, 100 social leaders have been killed in the Latin American country, as was reported by the Institute of Study on Peace and Development (Indepaz), in June.

Various human rights and social organizations have demanded that the Colombian Government implement effective measures to prevent the wide-scale killing of social leaders.

Social and political leaders were supposed to be protected by the peace agreement signed in Havana, in 2016.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights spoke out against the high incidence of deaths.

“We condemn the homicide of Hector Santiago Anteliz, 52-year-old, president of the JAC of San Jose, Teorama, in Norte de Santander. In 2018, we have documented 9 defenders’ homicides in this department.

Colombia: Tres líderes sociales asesinados durante Semana Santa

Source: El Espectador

Un indígena reclamante de tierras, un líder de víctimas y una lideresa de sustitución de cultivos ilícitos fueron las tres víctimas que dejó la semana de pascua en Cauca y Meta. Según el programa Somos Defensores, en los últimos tres meses 45 líderes fueron asesinados.

La semana de pascua terminó con un saldo en rojo para la implementación del acuerdo de paz: tres líderes sociales fueron asesinados, dos en Cauca y uno en el Meta, quienes fueron ultimados a tiros y en presencia de sus familiares. Así lo reportaron las organizaciones sociales del país, cuya alerta estuvo acompañada de una cifra escalofriante: 45 líderes sociales fueron asesinados en los primeros tres meses de 2018. Es decir, 26 más que en el mismo periodo de 2017 y 31 más que en 2016.

El primer homicidio se registró el viernes 30 de marzo a las 6:40 p.m., en la vía que comunica de Corinto hacia la vereda El Guanábano (norte del Cauca). Según lo informó el Consejo Regional Indígena del Cauca (Cric), Héctor Janer Latín fue encontrado abaleado y sin signos vitales en un paraje de la vereda Gualanday, en donde también encontraron sus documentos y su celular, pero no su motocicleta.

También lea: Estos tres líderes fueron asesinados sin recibir protección del Estado

Las autoridades tradicionales aún no se atreven a mencionar responsables, sin embargo, dejaron constancia de que el hecho sucedió en el mismo lugar en donde minutos antes había estado el Ejército haciendo un retén. “El asesinato de Héctor Janer se da en el contexto de un descomunal escalamiento de la guerra en el norte del Cauca. Por un lado, grupos que se hacen llamar guerrilleros desafían la autonomía comunitaria sembrando terror y, por otro, grupos neoparamilitares operan, muchas veces, ante la vista gorda del Ejército y la Policía. Los mismos que han disparado contra civiles indefensos en acciones similares a las que en otros tiempos realizaban los grupos paramilitares”, sentenció el Cric a través de un comunicado que circuló en todos los resguardos indígenas del norte del Cauca.

El otro homicidio se registró en la noche del viernes santo, durante la procesión tradicional en la que participaban los pobladores de Rosas (sur del Cauca). Según lo reportó la Red por la Vida y los Derechos Humanos del Cauca, el líder de víctimas Belisario Benavidez fue abaleado en dos oportunidades por un joven que caminaba por el centro del pueblo, quien aprovechó el momento en que la víctima estaba subiendo a un sobrino a su motocicleta, para disparar. Tras caer el cuerpo del líder, el joven minutos después regresó para rematarlo.

De acuerdo con la organización de derechos humanos, Benavidez había llegado hace apenas dos años al municipio de Rosas. Era integrante de la mesa de víctimas de esa localidad y se desconoce si tenía amenazas por el ejercicio de su liderazgo comunitario. Los testigos de los hechos señalaron que la Policía capturó a un presunto responsable, pero que luego lo dejó en libertad al no hallarle elementos probatorios para incriminarlo en el hecho. El arma con la que fue asesinado Benevidez fue encontrada en un pastizal en el centro de Rosas.

Y del último crimen se informó el pasado primero de abril. Lo reportó la Fundación por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos del Oriente y Centro de Colombia (DHOC), a través de una detallada descripción de la labor que desempeñaba la dirigente campesina María Magdalena Cruz Rojas. Fue asesinada a las 9:00 p.m. del 30 de marzo frente a su esposo y su hijo en la vereda Unibrisas en zona rural de Mapiripán (Meta).

También lea: Siguen matando líderes sociales, un año después del acuerdo de paz

Teniendo en cuenta el informe de la organización social, Cruz Rojas era una de las líderes más importantes de Mapiripán en el Programa Nacional de Sustitución de Cultivos Ilícitos (PNIS), el cual surgió tras el acuerdo de paz con las Farc con el fin de que los campesinos erradicaran voluntariamente los cultivos de coca y marihuana a cambio de recibir inversión en el campo.

Sobre este último tema, los delegados de la Coordinadora de Cultivadores de Coca, Amapola y Marihuana (Coccam) se pronunciaron esta semana. Pusieron sobre la mesa la posibilidad de retirarse del programa por incumplimientos del Estado y el asesinato de los líderes que promueven la sustitución voluntaria en los territorios.

De acuerdo con el comunicado que emitió la Coccam, a la fecha han sido asesinados 31 integrantes de esta organización, que surgió tras el acuerdo de paz con las Farc para organizar a los campesinos del país que por años han trabajado con los cultivos de uso ilícito ante la ausencia del Estado.

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Philippines: ASEAN MPs condemn murder of indigenous activist, call for protection of environmental rights defenders region-wide

Source APHR – ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights

JAKARTA, 12 March 2018 — Regional MPs today condemned the killing of indigenous, environmental activist Ricardo Pugong Mayumi in the Philippines earlier this month and called for a prompt and thorough investigation into his murder.

ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) said the killing highlights the increasingly hostile climate faced by activists in the Philippines, and reflects broader regional and global trends that have seen a rising tide of threats and violence against land and environmental rights defenders.

APHR also urged the Philippine government, along with all ASEAN member governments, to do more to promote and protect the rights of indigenous communities. “This case is emblematic of the grave dangers faced by Filipinos, particularly those from indigenous communities, who choose to exercise their fundamental rights as they seek to protect their land, natural resources, and livelihoods. We urge the relevant authorities in the Philippines to undertake a full investigation and bring perpetrators to account. Justice must be served,” said APHR Board Member Eva Kusuma Sundari, a member of the Indonesian House of Representatives.

Mayumi, an indigenous person and environmental rights defender, was shot dead on 2 March at his home in Ifugao province in the Philippines. As a leader of the Ifugao Peasant Movement (IPM), he had been involved in organizing opposition to a major hydropower project planned for the area. He and other IPM members reportedly had been receiving death threats since at least 2012. Parliamentarians noted that Mayumi’s case is only one of a large number of similar killings. The Philippines has been the deadliest country in Asia for land and environmental rights defenders in the past three years, according to statistics from the NGO Global Witness, and 2017 alone saw 41 of them killed in the country, out of a total of nearly 200 murdered globally.

Hundreds more have faced judicial harassment, intimidation, and threats, including from top government officials. “It’s dangerous to be an environmental rights defender anywhere in the world these days, but especially in the Philippines, where large corporations are increasingly trampling on community lands and livelihoods, and impunity too often reigns. It is also deeply distressing that the government appears actively hostile to the idea of protecting human rights defenders,” Sundari said.

In a related development, MPs also expressed concern about the inclusion of UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, along with other indigenous activists from the Philippines, on a list of alleged members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), following the recent submission by the Justice Department of a petition to list these entities as “terrorist organizations.” “This is a deeply dangerous move by the government. In a context where indigenous people put their lives on the line each and every day to defend their rights, labeling them as ‘terrorists’ adds insult to injury and further undermines their security and basic rights,” said APHR Board Member Walden Bello, a former Philippine Congressman.

APHR noted that the problem of impunity for similar attacks also extends beyond the Philippines, with indigenous and environmental activists killed, imprisoned, and threatened across the ASEAN region. In Cambodia, for instance, three people, including conservation workers, were shot dead after confronting illegal loggers in January. Last year also saw the extra-judicial killing of an indigenous activist in Thailand, an incident which has yet to be properly investigated, despite calls from APHR and other groups.

In addition, pursuing justice in cases where powerful individuals are caught undermining environmental protection efforts is often an uphill battle, APHR said, highlighting the recent case of a construction company mogul in Thailand caught poaching in a wildlife sanctuary. “These corporate elites see the environment as a poaching ground. As ASEAN integration proceeds apace, we must work as a region to make sure that the benefits do not accrue only to the elite and corporations, but also to people at the grassroots.

Safeguards are needed to ensure that local communities do not continue to be victimized and attacked for demanding their rights,” Bello said. “Lawmakers have a duty to help put such safeguards in place. Multinational corporations, which all too often are connected to these incidents, need to take responsibility as well,” he added.

Contact: Phone: +66 99 278 7334 Email: oren@aseanmp.org

Colombia: Somos Defensores Annual Report documents 106 killings of HRDs in 2017 – with 18 in January 2018 alone

“Piedra en el Zapato” – “Stone in the Shoe”.

Bogotá D.C. March 1, 2018 – Communications Programma Somos Defensores

Programma Somos Defensores Annual Report for 2017: Carlos Guevara looks at the critical situation for HRDs in Colombia.

“Yes, peace brought less general violence in Colombia but instead the violence focused on social leaders and human rights defenders (HRDs). 2017 was a sad year considering the 32.5% increase in killings which resulted in the deaths of 106 HRDs while 2018 seems likely to continue the same trend with 18 killings of HRDs in January alone. The government continues to issue decrees that are never implemented and we still don’t know if the new government will shelve them. Social leaders in rural areas of the country are facing another year of targeted violence that shows no sign of abating.

This report is an analysis of a year that we do not want to repeat.

Download the report HERE

Watch our launch video HERE

2017 was a year in which the armed confrontation and its endless list of victims ceased to be daily news. The signing and beginning of the implementation of the Peace Agreements, brought about a substantial decrease in deaths; However, in the midst of this positive trend, another phenomenon became increasingly evident and showed an unacceptable increase: the murder of social leaders and HRDs in Colombia.

Despite the peace process there are a number of trends which continue to put the lives of HRDs at risk: HRDs continue to be the target of systematic violence due to, newly emerging conflicts, : the absence of a state presence in some areas, the unbridled focus on the extraction of natural resources; drug trafficking; the fight for the land; hate crimes; corruption; the struggles of other guerrilla groups of paramilitary descent, the growing presence of Mexican drug cartels and organised crime in ex-FARC areas, among others.

Undoubtedly, 2017 was the most critical year in the eight year term of President Juan Manuel Santos. This level of violence against HRDs is very serious and besides worrying the human rights community, researchers, the international community and sectors sensitive to the phenomenon, it has become a STONE IN THE SHOE (Piedra em el Zapato) of the Santos Government in the context of its policy to create the conditions for peace. And at the same time HRDs in Colombia are also the “STONE IN THE SHOE” for those who want to seize control of the national territory, using any available means. As a result they get attacked from both sides.

During 2017, 560 HRDs were attacked, which figure included 106 killings (32.5% increase), 370 threats, 50 attacks, 23 arbitrary detentions, 9 judicial proceedings and 2 thefts of sensitive information. Looking at the figures for the killings we can see that there was progress in 30% of the cases. In relation to killings of HRDs this report includes a comparative analysis of the various reports produced by social and human rights organisations in 2017. In this analysis we have found considerable convergence in the findings across all these reports in relation to, the number of killings of HRDs, the pattern of the killings, the profile of the leaders targeted, the areas with the highest number of killings and the identity of the alleged perpetrators.

The report also examines a number of issues that are central to the protection of HRDs, including:

  • the role of the new legal provisions derived from the Havana Agreement on issues for the protection of defenders that have not yet been implemented and remain on paper;

  • the failure of the Colombian Government to take preventive action;

  • the lack of progress in the Prosecutor’s office that is still not in a position to meet the demand for justice;

  • the slow response of state bodies in taking pre-emptive action before the massacre of defenders

  • the ongoing and constant stigmatisation of these activists that with the upcoming elections will raise the level of danger they face in every corner of the country.

But despite such bad news, the report also notes concrete proposals to get the country out of this mess and start looking for joint solutions to a problem that far from diminishing, is increasing daily and seems to want to stay for a long time. There is an urgent need to alert candidates to the Presidency so that, if they are elected, they don’t simply file this vital issue for the future of the country away in a drawer.

For the publication of this report we have counted on the invaluable collaboration of several prominent national cartoonists, who in solidarity have used their images to portray the reality faced by the country’s social leaders. So a special thanks to Julio César González – MATADOR, Pablo Pérez – ALTAIS, Carlos Arturo Romero, Marco Pinto, Harold Trujillo – CHÓCOLO and Cecilia Ramos – LA CHÉ. Your work may be appreciated in the report”.

The complete figures on attacks against human rights defenders in Colombia for 2017 and other periods can be consulted at www.somosdefensores.org

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

Carlos A. Guevara J.
Coordinador Comunicaciones, Incidencia y Sistema de Información – SIADDHH
Programa Somos Defensores-PNGPDDH
@SomosDef
Cel. (057) 3176677053
Tel.(057  1) 2814010
www.somosdefensores.org
Bogotá – Colombia