怨 Remembering murdered environmentalists

怨   “We all stand before history,” said Ken Saro-Wiwa, a journalist executed for environmental advocacy, Nigeria, Nov. 10, 1995.

He is among an extraordinary and growing number of environmental activists and journalists who have been murdered in recent years. This list (below) was compiled through searches of databases of Environmental Health News, Lexis-Nexis, Amnesty International and many other non-governmental organizations along with Google and other public databases.

The list focuses on actual murders and verified incidents by year. It generally excludes deaths in protests, although ongoing reports by Global Witness include killing of environmentalists at protests by government or industry officials.

Recent years show a statistically significant peak in environmental murders, especially around 2012.  The question, of course, is why are we seeing this trend? Is it an artifact of an expanding global culture, with greater communications links between developed and developing worlds, enabling us to be more aware of crime? Or, on the other hand, are these deaths a consequence of a new global rush for the last remaining timber and mining resources, and a new ruthlessness on the part of oil, timber and mining companies?  It could be both. Global Witness and other organizations are calling for an international investigation.  

Most of the killings involve indigenous people who are relatively isolated and whose opposition to  mining, logging and hydroelectric projects is rooted in protection of their own land.   “They follow me. They threaten to kill me, to kidnap me, they threaten my family. That is what we face,” Berta Caceres, 2015  winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize, told journalist Imelda V. Abano.  Before the year was out, Caceres and another Honduran colleague, Nelson Garcia,  had also been assassinated.

why is this happening?

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Names remembered in sorrow and honor

2016

  • Jose Angel Flores and Silmer Dionisio George, Oct 19, Honduras, leaders of the United Farmworkers Movement of Agua.
  • Luiz Alberto Araújo, Oct 13, Brazil, local government official in Amazon region killed at his home. “The killing had all the hallmarks of the sort of assassination that is common in the lawless Pará state, in the eastern Amazon, where illegal logging, clandestine mining and modern slavery are rife.”
  • Lesbia Urquia, July 5, Honduras, environmental activist who fought against hydroelectric and mining projects on indigenous lands.   
  • Nilce de Souza Magalhães, missing since Jan.15, found dead June 21, Brazil — Leader of the Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens (Movement of people affected by dams). This January, 2016 ECSR Network report gives details of the disappearance.
  • Sikhosiphi ‘Bazooka’ Radebe, March 22, South Africa.  Shot eight times by paramilitaries in front of his family’s vehicle repair shop in Port Edward. Bazooka was the leader of what journalist Keith Schneider called a “tenacious, well-managed, and widely-recognized decade-long struggle for control of their traditional Pondo lands” against mining interests on South Africa’s Wild Coast.
  • Nelson Garcia, March 15, colleague of Berta Cáceres in the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (Copinh).  Garcia was shot in the face trying to return to his home after a violent eviction by security forces in Honduras.
  • Berta Cáceres, March 3, Goldman award-winning founder of the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras (COPINH) shot by two gunmen in her home in La Esperanza at around 1am.   Cáceres and others had been harrassed in previous days during protests of the the Agua Zarca Dam.  (Also see this Democracy Now article) In Honduras, Caceres was known as the woman who beat China and the World Bank over the dam controversy.
  • Walter Méndez Barrios, March 16, a Guatemalan activist fighting deforestation and hydroelectric projects on the Usumacinta River in the Peten region.

2015

  • Rigoberto Lima Choc, Sept. 18, Sayaxché, Guatemala, outspoken about ecological damage from Reforestadora de Palmas del Petén, S.A. (REPSA). REPSA’s operations were suspended in June following a massive fish kill, according to this article in Mongabay. 
  • Emerito Samarca, Sept. 1, Philippines.  A school teacher publicly executed for his defense of  the Lumad people in Mindinao. Dozens of others have been reported killed in the mining region, where indigenous peoples have inconvenienced big companies. The grave situation has drawn large protests.
  • Sandeep Kothari, June 19, India, kidnapped and burned to death in connection with news reporting about illegal mining in Madhya Pradesh. Three men linked to India’s mining mafia were arrested.  Kothari had been in court for what his family says were many false charges brought by allies of the mining companies.
  • Jopi Peranginangin, May 23, 2015,  Indonesia.  Stabbed in the back while in a bar in South Jakarta.   The 39-year-old activist worked with the Indigenous People’s Alliance and fought for legal recognition of forests.
  • Chai Bunthonglek, Feb. 11,  Khlong Sai Pattana, Surat Thani, Thailand. A leader of  the Southern Peasant’s Federation of Thailand (SPFT), was shot in violence linked to  the Jiew Kang Juy palm oil company, according to the Federation Internationale de Ligues dse droits de l’Homme.  “Mr. Chai was the fourth member of the SPFT to be assassinated after Ms. Montha Chukaew and Ms. Pranee Boonrat in 2012 and Mr. Somporn Pattanaphum in 2010,” the federation said.  “Of the previous four killings of SPFT members, two cases were brought to trial, but the defendants were later acquitted due to lack of evidence. The consistent failure to conduct comprehensive and transparent investigations has fostered impunity for crimes.”

2014

  • José Isidro Tendetza Antún,   killed around Nov. 28, 2014, Ecuador — Antun was a Shuar indigenous leader opposed to a mining project in Ecuador. He was  assassinated  days before he planned to take his campaign to climate talks in Lima. The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador say that the Mirador copper mining project will devastate around 450,000 acres of forest. Corporate control of the project is in the hands of Ecuacorriente, initiated by a Canadian-owned firm, purchased by a Chinese conglomerate, CCRC-Tongguan Investment.
  • Diego Armando Saborío, October, 2014, Costa Rica.  The  28-year-old law student was shot in his home in the mountains of northern Costa Rica. He had often spoken out against the illegal hunting rampant in his town, and prohibited poachers from hunting on his land. Several days before the murder, local poacher Miguel Pineda had allegedly hung a dead deer in Saborío’s door in what was viewed by many as a warning, according to a March 15, 2015 Guardian article.
  • Edwin Chota Valero, and three Ashaninka community leaders, Jorge Rios, Leoncio Quincicima and Francisco Pinedo, killed around Sept. 1, Peru – Brazil border area  — Chota and others in the community were attempting to stop illegal logging in the Amazon and to protect indigenous people. See Edwin Chota’s Dream, a Huffington Post article about the human rights issues behind environmental activism in the Amazon.
  • Datu Roger Alaki,  August 10, 2014, Philippines —  A paramilitary  group, the Bagani Force,  shot local indigenous leader Alaki after he refused to sign an agreement with the Malampaya mining company.   According to Global Witness, this was one of 9 activist killings in the Philippines related to mining projects in 2014, accounting for almost a third of the 25 deaths worldwide linked to extractive industries.
  • Armando Funez, Maria Enriqueta Matute, Ricardo Soto, Honduras, 2014-2015, resisting the Agua Zarca hydro-dam on the Gualcarque River, which threatens to cut off a vital water source for hundreds of indigenous Lenca people. Their colleague Berta Caceres was awarded the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize.

2013

  • Freddy Tiash, Nov. 6 — Ecuador — A Shuar indian, killed in a standoff over illegal mining operations in Morona province.
  • Cesar Garcia, Nov. 2., Colombia — Garcia was an opponent of “La Colossa”  gold mine under development by AngloGold Ashanti.
  • Three Indians, August 28, Honduras, according to the National Coalition of Environmental Networks of Honduras.
  • Gonzalo Alonso Hernandez,  Aug. 5, Brazil,  may have been killed because he reported poaching and illegal logging.
  • Noé Salomón Vázquez Ortiz, Aug. 2, Mexico, killed one day before he was to host a conference about environmental impacts of hydro dams.
  • Igor Sapatov, July 22,  Russia, campaigned against illegal land transfers and logging.
  • Celso Rodriguez,  June 12, Brazil,  in an ambush set by two armed men, supposedly hired by the livestock farmers occupying the nearby territory of the Paraguassu community, according to   Survival International.
  • Unknown Terena Indian, May 30, Brazil, killed by police whilte being evicted from Trena land.
  • Jairo Mora Sandoval, May 30, Costa Rica, killed trying to protect sea turtle eggs on Costa Rican beaches. Also see New York Times aritcle June 1. 
  • Mauro Pio Peña, May 27, Peru,  a leader of the Ashaninka people, fought illegal logging in Amazon rain forest.
  • Mikhail Beketov  Russian environmental journalist, April 8, 2013, a direct result of a beating in 2008 for his defense of Russia’s environment.
  • Onesimo Rodriguez, March 2013, Panama – killed by four masked men. The murder occurred after a demonstration against the Barro Blanco dam.
  • Paraveen Rehman, Pakistan, March 13, 2013 — The “guardian angel” of the slums of Karachi, killed by the “land mafia.”  Aseminar on ecological issues in Karachi was dedicated to Rehman.
  • Prajob Nao-opas,  Thailand, Feb. 23, 2013 — Nao-opas was  shot four times in Chacheongsao province Thailand. He had been an effective campaigner fighting illegal toxic waste disposal, according to an article in The Guardian. He was one of 30 human rights and environmental activists killed in Thailand since 2001, according to Human Rights Watch. Three men were arrested in connection with the murder on April 13, according to the Bangkok Post. 
  • Jun Lontok, Jan. 7, Philippines — Leader of the Luntiang Alyansa ng Bundok Banahaw (LABB) which fought to protect Mount Banahaw in Quezon province,

2012

  • Six park rangers in the Kenyan Wildlife Service were killed in several separate incidents in 2012, according to officials who added the six names to the Conservation Heroes Monument in Nairobi on Dec. 17, 2012.
  • Cheryl Ananayo and Randy Nabayay,  Dec. 8, 2012 Philippines — The two were members of the Didipio Earthsavers’ Multipurpose Association.  According to the Philippine Star, they were two of 15 environmentalists killed in the Philippines in 2012.
  • Sombath Somphone, missing in Laos, Dec. 15, 2012 — leader of Participatory Development Training Center (PADETC), which uses education to encourage farmers, fishers, and others, particularly rural women, to participate in government and natural resource management.
  • Juventina Villa Mojica, Nov. 28, 2012 — Mexico — An environmental activist supposedly under  police “protection” was killed, along with her 10-year-old daughter, for investigating links between drug cartels and deforestation in Guerero state. Her husband Ruben Santana Alonso, also an environmental activist, and two sons, were killed in 2011.
  • Ms. Montha Chukaew and Ms. Pranee Boonrat,  Nov. 19, Thailand.
  • Two park rangers and a soldier in Virunga National Park, Oct 25, 2012 — Democratic Republic of  Congo.
  • Juvy Capion, October 2012,  Philippines,  anti-mining advocate in Davao del Sur,  murdered together with her two sons.
  • Antonio Trejo,  September 2012,Honduras,  — Attorney for land rights group shot five times outside a church near Tegucigalpa. Trejo represented the Peasants Movement of the Valley of Bajo Aguan which was fighting palm oil / biofuels takeover of traditional lands in Bajo Aguan region.  Dozens have been killed there in recent years, BBC reports.
  • Hang Serei Oudom, Sept. 11, 2012 — Cambodia —  a reporter at local-language Vorakchun Khmer Daily, was covering illegal logging.
  • Six park rangers:  Zakaria Ibrahim, Brahim Khamis, Daoud Aldjouma, Djibrine Adoum Goudja, and Idriss Adoum, Sept. 3, 2012  — Chad —  Gunned down during dawn prayers north of Zakouma National Park in Chad, central Africa;  assassinated for protecting the last of the elephant herds found in the vast stretches between the Sahara Desert and the Congo forest.
  • Volodymyr Honcharenko, August 2012, Ukraine, activist who reported on radiation and water quality issues.
  • Five demonstrators killed (July 2012) — Protesting Conga mine in northern Cajamarca dept. US-based Newmont Corp. is majority shareholder in Conga.
  • Five guards killed in Okapi Wildlife Reserve (June 22, 2012) — Democratic Republic of  Congo.
  • Almir Nogueira de Amorim and João Luiz Telles Penetra, killed in Brazil, June 22, 2012 — The two were organizers of AHOMAR, a local organization of seamen,  fighting oil development by Petrobras. (See story by Fred Pearce).
  • Two demonstrators killed, (May 2012) — Peru —  Protesting against  Swiss-owned Xstra’s Tintaya mine in Espinar, Cusco region.
  • Heng Chantha (1998 – May 16, 2012) — Cambodia — A force of 1,000 men assaulted the Pro Ma village of 200 residents in a forced evication. A 14-year-old girl, Heng Chantha, was shot as she resisted. The eviction of families from traditional lands by government forces for mines and logging is a growing source of conflict in Cambodia. While the govenment maintains that the traditional owners have committed crimes, villagers say that the logging and agro-business firm Casotim is behind the evictions. The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development has asked the World Bank noto to lift its suspension of new loans to the Royal Government of Cambodia. The cruelty is reminiscent of the days of Pol Pot, villagers told the Phnom Pen Post. The Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights has called for an investigation.
  • Margarito Cabal (May 9, 2012) –Philippines — A leader of a group trying to save the Pulangi River from a hydro dam. One of 13 activists killed in the past two years. Clergy in the Philippines have expressed deep concern over the murders of environmental activists there.
  • Frederick Trangia (May 6, 2012) — Philippines — Opposed mining in Compostela Valley provincial park.
  • Francisco Canayong (May 1, 2012) — Philippines — opposed mining operations in Salcedo and in other parts of Eastern Samar.
  • Chut Vuthy (Wutty) — (1983 – April 26, 2012) — Cambodia — A prominent anti-logging activist helped expose a secretive state sell-off of national parks. Circumstances of his death are still being investigated, but he was apparently killed while trying to smuggle photos of illegal logging past Cambodian police and company security guards. Killing took place in the eastern province of Kratie, Cambodia.
  • Jimmy Liguyon — (March 5, 2012) — Philippines, killed by para-military forces supporting mining operations.
  • Bernardo Mendez Vasquez, Jan. 18, San Jose del Progreso, Mexio, shot by a municipal police officer after resisting water installations related to the Fortuna Silver mine near Oaxaca.
  • Eligio Eloy Vargas Medrano, ranger, Sierra de Bahoruco National Park, (Jan. 7, 2012) — Dominican Republic — murdered by illegal charcoal makers.
  • Two unknown people killed as Panamanian security forces fired on protestors blocking the road to the Barro Blanco dam.

2011

  • Xue Jinbo, (1969 – Dec. 9, 2011) — China — Trying to resolve a land dispute, Xue was arrested and beaten to death by police in Wukan, China.
  • Nísio Gomes, (Nov. 18, 2011) — Brazil — Indiginous leader killed, three children abducted, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil
  • Sister Valsa John – (1959 – Nov. 16, 2011), India — Advocate for people’s rights in the face of mining. “Sister Valsa said she did Jesus’s work by teaching the aboriginal people – known in India as adivasi or “tribals” – about their rights to their land….” acccording to an article in A Nun’s Life.
  • Joao Chupel Primo (1956 -Oct. 25, 2011), Brazil, “An active protestor against the deforestation occurring in Brazil’s rain forest. He was currently working on the Projeto de Assentamento Areia (Area Settlement Project) which publicly criticized the illegal logging taking place in the Riozinho de Anfrisio reserve,” according to Impunity Watch. Twenty other activists have died in the Amazon since 2005, according to Bishop of Itaituba, Dom Frei Wilmar Santin.
  • Father Fausto Tentorio, (1952 – Oct. 17, 2011) Italian priest known as “Father Pops,” was an anti-mining advocate working to preserve the Manobo tribe ancestral lands. According to Agence France Press, “Tentorio had dedicated his life to helping the Manabo tribesmen and other disadvantaged people in Mindanao, a resource- rich but deeply poor island” in the Philippines.
  • Lee Xiang – (1981 – Sept. 18, 2011) China, — A journalist who had been following a scandal involving the sale of cooking oil made from leftovers taken from gutters was been stabbed to death.
  • Secundino Ruiz, August 20, 2011, Honduras — Farm workers leader killed outside bank over tensions in the Bajo Aguan valley region.
  • Matthew Coleman, Aug. 18, California US — Environmentalist may have been killed by marijuana growers.
  • Shehla Masood – (1973 – Aug. 16, 2011) India — A wildlife defender and environmental activist
  • Thongnak Sawekchinda – (1964 – July 28, 2011) Thailand — (update) Environmental activist in Samut Sakhon province.
  • Nery Jeremias Orellana – (1985 – July 14, 2011) — Honduras – A journalist working with social and environmental movements.
  • Marlon Lozano Yulan, ( – July 20, 2011) Guayaquil, Ecuador — Youth leader of the Ecuadorian organisation Tierra y Vida (Land and Life)
  • Obede Loyla Souza, Esperança, Brazil – June 15 Killed in what the Guardian newspaper called a battle for the forest but also for the idea of progress without destruction.
  • Juan Francisco Duran Ayala – ( June 3, 2011)– El Salvador – — Anti-mining activist with Environmental Committee of Cabanas. Also see protection line.
  • Adelino Ramos — (May 27, 2011) – Brazil – land reform leader in the Amazon state of Rondonia
  • José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva – (1959 – May 24, 2011) Brazil –and  Maria do Espírito Santo – (1960 – May 24, 2011) — Conservationists  who campaigned against illegal Amazon logging.  In April, 2013, a  Brazilian court oonvicted two gunmen who committed the murders, but it did not convict the farm owner who was alleged to have paid for the murders.  (Inter-Press Service article, Guardian article, Both April 5, 2013)
  • Frederic Moloma Tuka, D.R. Congo, May 2 — Killed by police following a demonstration against Siforco logging company in Yalisika province.
  • A Brazilian court convicted two gunmen connected to the murders on April 5, 2013, but it did not convict the farm owner who was alleged to have paid for the murders.
  • Javier Torres Cruz – (1981 – April 18, 2011)– Mexico — A member of Environmental Organization of the Coyuca and Petatlán Mountains, Torres Cruz fought illegal logging in Mexico. 
  • Four park rangers  — (March, 2011) — Sanandaj, Iran.
  • Rudy Segovia, (March 6, 2011) — Philippines — Shot by TVI Resource Development guard while picketing a road in Canatuan, Zamboanga de Norte province. (Memory, Truth and Justice for Heroes, Friends of the Earth report, 2011).
  • Sandra Viviana Cuellar Gallego, ( Feb. 17, 2011) Colombia — Friends of the Earth environmental worker. Disappeared. 
  • Kimberly Blackwell, Feb. 2, 2011. Canadian citizen, 53 years old,  murdered in rural Costa Rica in retaliation for reporting poaching in nearby forest.
  • Gerry Ortega – (1963 – Jan. 24, 2011) Philippines — Journalist,  veterinarian and environmental activist, killed for anti-mining advocacy. Suspects arrested Sept. 2015.
  • Ruben Santana Alonso, ( 2011) — Mexico —  an environmental activist, and two sons, killed.  Spouse,  Juventina Villa Mojica,  and daughter, also killed Nov. 28, 2012.

2010

  • Ketheeswaran Thevarajah – (Dec 31, 2010) — Sri Lanka, investigating illegal sand mining for construction materials Also see TamilNet
  • Ardiansyah Matra’is – Indonesia — (July 30, 2010) — Indonesia — Environmental journalist with Merauke TV working in Papua, found dead in river.
  • Muhammad Syaifullah – (July 26, 2010) — Indonesia — Environmental journalist, bureau chief of Kompas, Indonesia’s largest daily newspaper, was reporting on illegal logging and coal mining.
  • Amit Jethwa – (1975 – July 20, 2010)–  India — environmentalist trying to protect the Gir Forest area near Junagadh, Gujarat, India. “Mr. Jethwa repeatedly filed information requests to unearth the names of those operating the quarries and to see what action had been taken against them. He discovered there were 55 illegal quarries in and around the preserve. One name stood out among the records of land leases, electricity bills and inspection reports: Dinubhai Solanki, a powerful member of Parliament from the Bharatiya Janata Party, which governs Gujarat.” — New York Times, January 23, 2011.
  • Desidario Camangyan ( June 2010) — Philippines —  Anti-logging activist, journalist and radio host in the Philippine province of Davao Oriental, gunned down while hosting an amateur singing contest. His wife and child were in the audience.
  • Leonard Saleo – (March 1, 2010) — Indonesia – killed confronting illegal loggers.
  • Gensun Agustin (March 1, 2010) — Philippines — vocal in denouncing local and provincial leaders who pushed for magnetite mining from the beaches of Buguey, Cagayan. (FOE, 2011).
  • Shashidhar Mishra (1975 – Feb. 14, 2010) – India – news vendor who fought corruption by filing RTI (Right to Information) applications. (US equivalent of Freedom of Information)
  • Samuel Rodríguez Reyes, ranger, Cerro San Gil National Park, (Jan. 2, 2010) — Guatemala —  Killed in Santo Tomás de Castilla,  Lake Izabal,  Rodriguez had reported illegal logging and the construction of houses in protected areas.
  • Ricardo Ganad and Mike Rivera,  Philippines — Opposed the Mindoro Nickel Project of Norwegian corporation Intex Resources. (Memory, Truth and Justice for Heroes, Friends of the Earth report, 2011).
  • Somporn Pattanaphum, January 2010, Thailand.
  • Josefina Reyes Salazar, January 2010, Mexico, environmental activist in Guadalupe los Bravos, near US border, who organized campaigns against illegal pesticides, water contamination, and a proposed nuclear waste dump on the Texas border.  Her brother Rubén was killed in August after questioning the investigation of her death.  In 2011, her sister, Magdalena, and his brother, Elías, and Luisa Ornelas  were killed.

2009

  • Ramiro Rivera Gómez – (1957 -Dec. 20, 2009) — Opposed El Dorado mine with the National Anti Mining Board, El Salvador.
  • Dora Alicia Sorto Recinos – (1978 – Dec. 26, 2009) — Opposed El Dorado mine with the National Anti Mining Board, El Salvador. Was 8 months pregnant when brutally assassinated. Mariano Abarca, (Nov. 27, 2009) — Mexico — Leader of the Mexican Network of People Affected by Mining. Opposed Canada’s Blackfire Exploration mining concessions.

  • Bosco Wisum (Sept. 29, 2009) — Ecuador — Killed in Morona Santiago during a Shuar indian protest against a proposed water law involving mining activities.
  • Adolfo Ich Chamán (Sept. 27, 2009) — Guatemala — killed by security forces of HudBay Minerals Inc., was the President of the Community of La Uníon, a respected Mayan Q’eqchi’ community leader, a school teacher and father. He was also a  critic of the effect of mining in his community.  The day of his death another activist was crippled for life and nine women were sexually assaulted in his town, according to allegations filed in a lawsuit.
  • Gustavo Marcelo Rivera Moreno – (1973 – June 18, 2009)– Opposed El Dorado mine with the National Anti Mining Board, El Salvador. Disappeared, body later found in a well.
  • Massive protests in Bagua, Peru, June 2009,  lead to deaths of 23  police officers, five Indians and five civilians, along with 200 injuries, according to a report by Peru’s Ombudsman. Unofficial reports have claimed the death toll was much higher. The protests involve oil leases in the upper Amazon.
  • Paulo Santos Souza, May 22, Brazil — Fisherman’s union member protesting Petrobras pipeline construction.
  • Eliezer “Boy” Billanes – (1964 – March 9, 2009) — Philippines — Chair of the Alliance for Genuine Development in Mindanao, shot in Koronadal City market. Opposed Xstrata development of the Tampakan gold mining project. On March 18, the Manilla Times reported a statement by the Arroyo administration denying involvement in this and related killings to the EU ambassador.
  • José Miguel Pagoada Tercero, (Feb. 28, 2009) – Honduras — Shot while working in a section of land he had helped reforest in the Hato de Enmedio community, outside Tegucigalpa.
  • Stanislav Markelov, Anastasia Baburova (January 2009) — Russia — Environmental activist and journalist.

2008

  • Fernando “Dodong” Sarmiento, ( Dec. 23, 2008) Philippines — An activist who argued that a local gold mine was damaging the interests of local people, killed at New Bataan, Compostela Valley Province.
  • Two unnamed men, (November, 2008) — Philippines – Among five killed by para-military death squads protecting mining developments in Mindinao
  • Rolando Antolihao, (Nov 10, 2008) – Philippines — a banana plantation worker
  • Danilo Qualbar (Nov 6, 2008) – Philippines — activist for the People First party.
  • Shamir Guifarro Ramírez, Henry Arturo Chacón and Nelda Ochoa— (July 21, 2008. ) — Honduras — Son, father-in-law and mother-in-law of Honduran environmentalist Mario Guifarro murdered in 2007, The three were followed out of the town of Juticalpa, ambushed and murdered.

2007

2006

2005

  • Raul Castro Bocel (Jan. 11, 2005) — Guatemala — Killed by army breaking up blocade to stop mining equipment to Glamis Gold’s Marlin Mine. (FOE, 2011).
  • Bruno Mansur – (1954 – 2005) Indonesia
  • Prahlad Gowala – (2005), Assam state, India
  • Dionisio Ribeiro Filho – (1946 – 2005) Brazil
  • Phra Supoj Suwajano – (June 2005) — Thailand — Abbot of Suan Mettatham monastery and a forest conservationist. Beaten to death.
  • Dorothy Stang – (1931 – 2005) Brazil (solved)
  • Shanmughan Manjunath (1978 – Nov. 19, 2005) — India — Indian Oil Co. manager who was shot after discovering corruption at a Lucknow filling station.
  • Paul Nyame, Ntim Obofor, rangers, Kyabobo National Park (July 11, 2005) — Ghana — Ambushed by poachers.  (IRF*)
  • Four rangers (2000 – 2005) — Peru — Vicuna poachers.  (IRF* citing Associated Press April 15, 2005)
  • Harihar Yadav, ranger, Valmiki Tiger Reserve (Jan. 2, 2005) — India.  (IRF*)
  • Samson Ole Sitima, ranger, private ranch (April 19, 2005) — Kenya — killed by big landowner. (IRF*)
  • Bhola Nath Dhal, ranger, Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary (June 4, 2005) — India. (IRF*)

2004

  • Charoen Wat-Aksorn – (1967 – June 21, 2004) – Thailand — led protests against coal-fired power plant in Prachuap Khiri Kahn. Death commemorated in 2010 by Asian Human Rights Commission.
  • Somchai Neelapaijit – (1951 – 2004) Thailand
  • Kwibesha Musekura Boniface, Ruvuzo, both rangers, Virunga national park  (June 23, 2004) — Democratic Republic of Congo — Rebel group.  (IRF*)
  • Girindra Nath Borbhuyan, ranger, Kuklung reserve forest, (Nov. 2004) — India — Rebels. (IRF*)
  • Enrique Alcantara, ranger, PA Punta de Manabique  (Nov. 2, 2004). — Guatemala (IRF*)
  • Sesha Giri, ranger, Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, (April 5, 2004) — India — poacher attack. (IRF*)
  • Daniel Khalkho, Sitaram Yadav, rangers, Palamau Tiger Reserve (Sept. 6, 2004) — India — Naxalite rebels. (IRF*)
  • Mokilibe Atakuru, Likambo Masikini, rangers, Garamba National Park (May, 2004) — Democratic Republic of Congo — rebels. (IRF*)

2003

  • Carlos Arturo Reyes Méndez – (1982 – July, 2003), Honduras — anti-logging activist.
  • Satyendra Dubey – (1973 – Nov 27, 2003) – India — National Highways Authority director murdered after fighting corruption in Golden Quadrilateral highway project.
  • Tepeshwar Singh, Jetan Singh,  Baleswar Singh, rangers, Palamau Tiger Reserve (June 30, 2003) — India —  Naxalite extremists.  (IRF*)
  • Two park rangers, Tsavo East (May 15, 2003) — Kenya — Killed by poachers. (IRF*)
  • Two park rangers, Res. Bios. Yaboti Misiones and Sanborombon (May 22 and June, 2003) — Argentina — killed by poachers. (IRF*)
  • Sixto Atienza, ranger,  Balayan Bay (May 5, 2003) — Philippines — Killed after public speech, fishermen. (IRF*)
  • Safari Sulubika, ranger, Virunga national park (May 27, 2003) — Democratic Republic of Congo — Rebel group.  (IRF*)
  • Pte. Makayi Apollo, Pte Kundu Mathew, and Satya Stephen, rangers, Mt. Elgon Conservation Area — Uganda.   (IRF*)

2002

  • Luther Tirkey, ranger, Saranda Forest, (Dec. 17, 2002) — India — Naxalite extremists (IFR*)
  • Bortolomeu Morais da Silva, July 2002 — Brazil — Farmer who led struggle against illegal loging.
  • Eric Mota (Aug. 13, 2002) — Brazil — Serra dos Reis state park, ranger killed by illegal loggers.  (IRF*)
  • Antonio Nabo Pires (Jan.  31, 2002) — Portugal — ranger killed, presumably by hunter.  (IRF*)
  • Paluku Jogoo, ranger, Virunga national park  — Democratic Republic of Congo — Rebel group. (IRF*)
  • Bikhu Chowdury, ranger, Valmiki Tiger Reserve (Jan. 27, 2001) — India. (IRF*)
  • Begumisa H., ranger, Lake Mburo National Park, — Uganda — shot by poachers (IRF*)

2001

  • Peter Blake (Dec. 5, 2001) — Brazil — World renowned sailor and environmentalist killed by pirates while at anchor at mouth of Amazon river. (Ottawa Citizen, Dec. 7, 2001)
  • Aury Sara Marrugo — (1962 – Dec. 5, 2001) — Colombia — Paramilitary forces kidnapped and tortured Marrugo, chair of Cartagena refinery workers union. (Memory, Truth and Justice for Heroes, Friends of the Earth report, 2011). According to a 2010 report, trade unionists in Colombia have been killed at the rate of one every three days over the last 23 years. (Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights).
  • Nicanor delos Santos, Philippines
  • Suwat Wongpiyasathit — Samut Prakan, Thailand, June, 2001. “He was due to appear before a Senate panel the next day to oppose a foul-smelling rubbish dump that villagers near Samut Prakan said was a health risk,” said James East, a Straits Times reporter. “In June, two more activists were killed for opposing separate quarry plants. An environmentalist in Phuket who wanted to halt the destruction of mangrove swamps by a prawn farmer has also been murdered.”
  • Somporn Chanapol — Surat Thani, Thailand, August 2001
  • Henry Oram, Sta. Lucia national park ranger (May 4, 2001) — Killed by shrimp poachers. (IFR*)
  • Digna Ochoa – (1964 – 2001) Mexico
  • Ademir Alfeu Federicci, Aug. 25, 2001, Brazil
  • Carlos Roberto Flores, June 2001, Honduras — Shot by guards at hydroelectric company Energisa building a dam in the Sierra de Agalta National Park.
  • Michael Safari,  Mambo Mwendapole, Masubaho Mubake; all rangers, Virunga National Park (May 25, 2001) — Democratic Republic Congo — Rebels. (IRF*)
  • Godofredo Garcia, March 31, Peru, opposed Tambogrande Mining Co. development.
  • Aroop Ranjan Pathak , ranger, Dharamtul Range (Feb. 21, 2001) — India — (IRF*)
  • Bipin Chandra Pandey, ranger, Corbett Tiger Reserve, (Aug. 28, 2001) — India — poachers.  (IRF*)
  • Asiimwe Stephen, ranger, Murchison Falls (March, 2001) — Uganda — shot by rebels (IRF*)

2000

  • Seven unkown people — Indonesia — killed by Placer Dome security forces at the Porgera gold mine. In 2005, the Porgera Landowners’ Association wrote to Prime Minister Michael Somare urging a commission of inquiry into what he claimed were the deaths of approximately 20 people at the mine. The mine has been the subject of reports by Human Rights Watch and other groups.
  • Zachariah  Abubakar (2000) — Cameroon — park ranger killed by poachers.
  • Fortunato Calacauqui (2000) — Bolivia — Park ranger killed by Vicuna poachers. (IRF*)
  • Kambale Twitebo, Muyalulimbo Idembe, both rangers,  Virunga national park — Democratic republic of Congo — rebels.  (IFR*)
  • Twelve rangers killed, national parks, (1996 – 2000) — Vietnam (IFR*)

1999

  • Terence Freitas, 24; Lahe’ena’e Gay, 39; and Ingrid Washinawatok, 41 — (March 4, 1999) — Colombia — Three American environmentalists were killed by Colombia Revolutionary Armed Forces who were helping U’wa Indians defend their ancestral lands from Occidental Petroleum Corp. The revolutionaries themselves condemned the “unauthorized” executions, as did the Colombian government. The murders apparently derailed nascent peace talks. (Philadelphia Inquirer, March 14, 1999).
  • Kanyamibwa J. de Dieu, Kambale Kinda, both rangers,  Virunga national park — Democratic republic of Congo — rebels.  (IFR*)
  • Paul Wagaba, John Barigira, both rangers, Bwindi National Park — Uganda — killed by rebels. (IRF*)

1998

  • Gloria Sofia Zapata, Hernando Duque and Eder Alexander Valencia — October 14, October 20 and November 9, 1998. Colombia.
  • David “Gypsy” Chain – (1974 – 1998) California, US
  • Mahamat Abubakar (1998) — Cameroon —  Park ranger killed by poachers. His son, Zachariah, took over, but two years later, Zachariah was gunned down in an ambush as well.
  • Kamondo Mayele, Simba Ndianabo, both rangers,  Virunga national park — Democratic republic of Congo — rebels.  (IFR*)
  • Pranjit Kalita, ranger, Lakhimpur Range (Dec. 13, 1998) — India — extremists (IFR*)

1995

  • Ken Saro-Wiwa – (1941 – 1995), Executed following a mock trial by the military junta of Nigeria, along with eight co-defendants — Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbooko, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, Barinem Kiobel, and John Kpuine. The executions were strongly condemned internationally. They were part of a campaign of repression by then-president Abacha whose victims also included prominent political leaders and industrialists.
  • Blanca Jeanette Kawas Fernández – Feb. 6, 1995, Honduras One of a string of seven murders of environmental activists in the Olancho region. In 2009, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights found the government of Honduras had facilitated the murders.
  • Karel Van Noppen, veterinarian, murdered after exposing mafia connections to the meat industry, March 1995, Belgium

1994

  • Suonandajie – Jan. 18, 1994, China — A provincial official, Suonandajie  was attacked and killed following action to protect the Tibet antelope against poachers in the Hoh Xil nature reserve in Qinghai Province.   Six suspects turned themselves in in 2012, according to an article in the Shanghai Daily.

1993

  • Leroy Jackson – (1946 – 1993) New Mexico, US. Founder of Dine Citizens Against Ruining the Environment,  “Before he disappeared, Jackson said he had obtained documents that showed Bureau of Indian Affairs officials were improperly trying to get the tribe exempted from the federal logging restrictions designed to protect the owl.” — Deseret News, Nov. 21, 1993. 
  • Paulo Vinha, 37, (April 28, 1993) — Biologist shot in Vila Velha, documenting coastal impacts of sand mining. (The Age, Aug 9, 1993).
  • Arnaldo Ferreira, 47, (May 1, 1993) — Forest defender in Para state shot in his sleep. According to the Pastoral Land Commission, a Catholic Church organisation, 1,684 people were killed in land struggles in Brazil between 1964 and 1992, some Thirty cases went to trial and only 17 ended in convictions. In 1993, nine more were killed. (The Age, Aug 9, 1993).

1992

  • Petra Kelly – (1947 – 1992) — Germany — Founder of Germany’s Green Party, Kelly was shot by former army general Gert Bastian — her long-time companion — who then killed himself, police said. Many have disputed the suicide verdict over the years.

1991

1980s

  • George Adamson,  Kenya, 1989, British wildlife conservationist, defending against poachers.
  • Chico Mendes – (1944 – 1988) Brazil
  • Deepak Bharali, ranger, Nanoi Range (1988) — India (IFR*)
  • Vincente Cañas – (1939 – 1987) Brazil
  • Fernando Pereira – (1950 – 1985) New Zealand (aboard the Rainbow Warrior, bombed by French security forces in retaliation for Pacific anti-nuclear protests).
  • Diane Fossey – (1932 – 1985) Rwanda 
  • Wilson Pinheiro – 1980, Brazil

1970s

  • W. Eugene Smith (December 30, 1918 – Oct. 15, 1978) — Photographer died after complications from being beaten nearly to death by chemical company thugs in retaliation  for his work in exposing Minamata disease in Japan.
  • Karen Silkood — (1947 — Nov. 14, 1974) — United States — Kerr McGee plutonium plant worker, murdered on her way to meet a New York Times reporter.

1900-1970s

  • Guy Bradley,  1905, Florida, a  game warden  killed while trying to enforce laws against hunting egrets and flamingos, which were in demand for ladies’ hats.

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Other major incidents or general statements about environmental murders, by country:

Brazil – More than 1,500 rural activists have been killed in conflicts over land and logging in Brazil between 1990 and 2010, the Guardian newspaper reported. The New York Times said that “over 1,000 environmental activists, religious workers, organizers and rural workers” have been killed in the past 20 years, but successful prosecutiouns are virtually nonexistent.

BoliviaBlack October massacre — left 67 people dead and more than 400 injured during protests in El Alto, near La Paz, in late 2003. The clashes included soldiers opening fire on unarmed crowds during demonstrations sparked by opposition to a proposed pipeline to export natural gas through neighbouring Chile. 

Costa Rica — Costa Rica’s Federation for the Conservation of the Environment (Fecon) has recorded 66 crimes against environmentalists in the country since 2002. The Guardian, March 19, 2015.

HondurasNine environmentalists murdered 1997 – 2007

MexicoFive environmentalists murdered in Mexico, 2009

Peru— At least 191 people have been killed in clashes with police in Peru, 2006 – 2011. Most of these involved opposition to mining and other environmental issues.

ThailandTwenty environmentalists killed in Thailand over 10 years

 

The Philippines

“In 2008, the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council recommended that the Philippines “intensify its efforts to carry out investigations and prosecutions on extrajudicial killings and punish those responsible.” The Philippines government accepted those findings, but subsequently has only successfully prosecuted four cases of extrajudicial killings, say Human Rights Watch.” — Caritas Foundation

According to one 2009 account in the London Telegraph, 900 peastant leaders, environmental campaigners and students activists have been killed by mysterious death squads in the Philippines since 2001. Many of the deaths are associated with Philippine military operations in Mindinao.

List of Environmental Workers and Activists killed, missing and assassinated from January 2001 to September 2010 Chronological Order 1. Nicanor Delos Santos 2. Manuela Albarillo 3. Expedito Albarillo 4. Roger Fernando 5. Erwin Bacarra 6. Ramon Ternida 7. Fr. Allan Caparro 8. Joel Pelayo 9. Rodel Abraham 10. Romy Sanchez 11. Rev. Raul Domingo 12. Napoleon Pornasdoro 13. Joey Estriber 14. Jose Doton 15. Noli Capulong 16. Marcus Bangit 17. Rogelio Lagaro 18. Eladio Dasi-an 19. Rei Mon Guran 20. Orlando Rivera 21. Victor Olayvar 22. Atty. Gil Gujol 23. Nilo Arado 24. Audy Anchangco 25. Arman Marin 26. Fernando Sarmiento 27. Eliezer ‘Boy’ Billanes 28. Samson Rivera 29. Ricardo Ganad 30. Gensun Agustin (2009).

Thirty seven environmental activists have been killed from 2001 to 2011, according to environmental group Kalikasan-PNE. Most were involved in campaigns against large-scale mining projects. Suspected perpetrators of these killings are police, military, and private security forces of private corporations.

By other accounts the list tops 54.

Four environmental activists have been murdered on Palawan island since 2001.

Philippines — In addition to environmental workers and activists, the Philippines has a very high rate of media killings. According to a May 9, 2012 article by the Associated Press, at least 151 journalists have been killed since 1986, including 32 in 2009 in the single worst media killing anywhere in the world when suspected political clan members ambushed a rival’s convoy.

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International law resources:

  • Human rights and the environment — Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – 2001 background papers
  • Aarhaus convention — 2002 — Ensures public rights in three areas: access to information, public participation and access to justice. Also wikipedia entry.
  • UN Declaration of the rights of indiginous peoples — 2007 — PDF
  • Cartagena Declearation, International Conference of Envrionmental Rights and Human Rights, Cartagena, Columbia, 16-18 Sept., Colombia.
  • Figuerido Report,  Brazil — According to Survival International, a  7,000-page document, compiled by public prosecutor Jader de Figueiredo Correia in 1947, detailed mass murder, torture, enslavement, bacteriological warfare, sexual abuse, land theft and other assaults against Brazil’s indigenous population. The report was recently found in Brazil’s Museum of the Indian and will now be considered by Brazil’s National Truth Commission, which is investigating human rights violations which occurred between 1947 and 1988.  An article about the report was written in the British Sunday Times in 1969.

Non-Governmental Organizations

  • Annual Survey of violations of Trade Union Rights
  • Human rights watch
  • Amnesty International
  • Comissao Pastoral da Terra – Brazil – Pastoral Commission of the Land
  • Friends of the Earth – Concerned about escalation of crimes against social leaders in Latin America, Report “Memory Truth and Justice for Heroes” issued 2011 is one of the most comprehensive.
  • Committee to Protect Journalists -Concerned about murders of journalists, including environmental journalists.
  • Thin Green Line — Australian foundation concerned with park rangers. According to the group, over 1,000 Park Rangers have lost their lives across the globe in the last 20 years.
  • (IRF*) International Ranger Federation, 2007 report (PDF) — Between 1998 and July, 2005, 120 rangers were murdered and 106 wounded, most of them shot, according to Carlos Gambarotta, Vice-President of the IRF who also serves as a ranger at Laguna Castillos Wildlife Sanctuary, Uruguay. Incidents are listed in the report.

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