Global Witness holds memorial service at COP26 summit for murdered land and environmental rights defenders

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo by Jo Blackman.

On November 2, Bill McKibben, who is at COP26 in Glasgow, stated: “One of the things I’m doing today is addressing a memorial service for the environment activists that were killed around the world last year, many of them in Latin America…”

Global Witness has documented that there were 227 lethal attacks against land and environmental rights defenders in 2020.

McKibben then noted: “In almost every case, [they were] standing up to defend something — a forest, a place that’s about to be mined — from some large corporation or another.”

He continued: “Now, the corporation didn’t come out and kill them, but their orders trickle down to whoever was there on the ground and whoever pulled the trigger. And all of that is still underway. There’s a kind of ongoing colonialism. Indigenous peoples suffer probably hardest from it than anybody else, and a great percentage of those bodies come from Indigenous communities. So, let’s always remember that those lives are on the line.”

The memorial for murdered land and environment defenders at COP26 was organized by the UK-based NGO Global Witness.

Along with a 12-minute video of the memorial service, Global Witness tweeted: “Over 1,000 Land & #EnvironmentDefenders have been killed for protecting their land and our shared planet since the Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015.”

Webinar with land defenders, November 6

The land and environmental rights defenders killed in 2020 includes 65 defenders in Colombia, 30 in Mexico, 17 in Honduras, 13 in Guatemala and 12 in Nicaragua.

Peace Brigades International provides protective accompaniment to threatened land and environmental rights in these countries.

On Saturday November 6, we are convening a webinar that will feature Danilo Rueda (Colombia), Valeria Villalobos (Mexico), Juana Ramona Zuñiga (Honduras), Sandra Calel (Guatemala), Amaru Ruiz (Nicaragua) and Nelly Madegwa (Kenya). It will also include a special introduction by United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment David R. Boyd.

To register for this webinar, that will have simultaneous translation in English and Spanish, please click here.

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