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10 December 2017 | | | | | | | | |

Human Rights Day

Urgent call to recognise, respect and protect environmental human rights defenders

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“We remain deeply saddened and greatly alarmed by the continuing attacks against environmental activists, defenders of territories, land rights’ advocates, indigenous community leaders”, said on Sunday, Human Rights Day, the coordinator of Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific Environmental Human Rights Defenders Project, Romel de Vera.

“The protection of the environment and environmental human rights defenders is a responsibility of states, governments and the international community”, de Vera added in an interview with Real World Radio. “We call for an end to corporate plunder of community resources, we call for an end to attacks on environmental human rights defenders, we call for an end to impunity of governments and corporations for environmental destruction and human rights violations”.

Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific issued on Sunday a press release (attached) where they call governments to “recognise, respect and protect” the work of environmental and human rights defenders who protect their territories and the collective rights of peoples.

The press release makes reference to the increasing number of human rights abuses against these social activists and highlights issues shared by Asia and Latin America and the responsibility of governments and transnational corporations on several cases. Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific particularly points to the killing on December 3rd of indigenous leader Datu Victor Danyan, his two sons, his son-in-law, and four other indigenous people, by the Philippine military under the guise of counter-insurgency operations.

Datu Victor has led the opposition of the T’Boli-Manobo community against coal mining and the encroachment of coffee plantations inside their ancestral territory in Barangay Ned, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.

The counter-insurgency program of the Philippine government and the militarization of territories have taken the life of progressive religious leaders and other human rights defenders, and have displaced indigenous communities. “It has become easy to include and justify the killings of environmental human rights activists and defenders of territories in the government’s counter-insurgency programs and operations”, said de Vera to Real World Radio.

At the end of the interview, the activist repeated the call to governments “to recognise the role of the work of environmental human rights defenders, to develop protection mechanisms for these defenders, to include them in relevant decision-making mechanisms and to make corporations accountable for violations brought about by their operations”.

See also: https://foeasiapacific.org/2017/12/10/recognise-respect-and-protect-environmental-human-rights-defenders/

Imagen: Keith Bacongco, Philippines.

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