EarthRights International statement on environmental defenders in the lead-up to COP26

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Ojibwe water protector Tara Houska.

On October 18, EarthRights International “called on the Biden administration to use the upcoming COP26 climate negotiations to announce that the United States will no longer allow coercive tactics  — including torture —  against those who speak out against climate-damaging extractive projects and will call on other countries to do the same.”

Their statement adds: “This call to action comes just months after Indigenous environmental defenders protesting Line 3 in Minnesota reported harassment, intimidation, and torture (‘pain compliance’) at the hands of police officers.”

It has been documented that the Minnesota police violence against environmental defenders was funded by Calgary-based Enbridge Inc. Earlier this month, The Guardian reported those payments totalled $2.4 million.

The EarthRights International statement includes a quote from water protector Tara Houska of the Giniw Collective who says:

“I would say to John Kerry [United States special presidential envoy for climate], you cannot be a leader on human rights and social justice if you are penalizing, criminalizing, suppressing, and outright committing violent atrocities on Indigenous peoples, on water protectors, on citizens engaged in civil disobedience who are trying to protect this one planet, our only home. The status quo and business as usual are literally killing us.”

PBI-Canada echoes this call to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, Climate Change Ambassador Patricia Fuller and other Canadian officials who are expected at COP26.

We further highlight along with the fight against Line 3 the land defence struggles now underway on sovereign Indigenous territories within Canada by the Secwepemc peoples against the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline and the Wet’suwet’en peoples against the Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline.

EarthRights International calls on governments, corporations and financial institutions to take action in these five areas:

1- Decriminalize opposition to fossil fuels and deforestation.

2- Fight corruption and state capture that drives illegal resource extraction and deforestation.

3- End the use of public security forces to protect fossil fuel and agribusiness projects.

4- Recognize and respect frontline communities’ land rights, and the right to participate in the decisions that impact their territories and environment.

5- Give frontline communities a seat at the table during global climate negotiations.

The full statement by EarthRights International can be read here.

Webinar with frontline land defenders, November 6

Global Witness has documented that there were 227 lethal attacks against land and environmental rights defenders in 2020. That includes 65 defenders in Colombia, 30 in Mexico, 17 in Honduras, 13 in Guatemala and 12 in Nicaragua.

PBI will be convening a webinar with defenders from these countries to highlight their struggles and expectations of COP26.

It will feature Danilo Rueda from Colombia, Juana Ramona Zuñiga from Honduras, Amaru Ruiz from Nicaragua, and a defender with Salvemos los cerros from Mexico. We will have confirmation soon about the speakers from Guatemala and Kenya.

They will be joined in this online event by David R. Boyd, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment.

The webinar will be on Saturday November 6 at 1 pm EST (Ontario/Quebec) and 1900 CEST (European time) with simultaneous translation in English and Spanish.

To register for it, please click here.

Danilo Rueda, Juana Ramona Zuñiga, Amaru Ruiz.

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