A new report, “Enemies of the State?: How governments and businesses silence land and environmental defenders”, published by Global Witness, a human rights organization based in London, has said that India saw the third highest number of activists killed, 23, in 2018 following Philippines 30 and Columbia 24.
The 52-page report says, the “biggest massacre we documented in 2018” is that of 13 persons killed in Tamil Nadu in May last year when “residents had been protesting against a copper smelting plant owned by the Sterlite Copper subsidiary of Vedanta Resources, which they said was polluting the air and threatening the local fishing industry.”
Pointing out that in a second massacre gunmen shot dead nine sugarcane farmers and burned their tents on the Philippine island of Negros, the report said, “More than three people were murdered each week in 2018, with countless more criminalised, for defending their land and our environment.”
The report regrets, “Calls to protect the planet are growing louder – but around the world, those defending their land and our environment are being silenced.” It adds, “Countless more people were threatened, arrested or thrown in jail for daring to oppose the governments or companies seeking to profit from their land.”