25 Oct.

Protecting forest dwellers goes hand in hand with protecting forests

Indigenous and community leaders are urging the UK government to do more to protect the forest dwellers who defend rainforests from illegal loggers

Activists have marched through Whitehall to urge the UK government to give more support to environmental defenders who risk their lives protecting rainforests, rivers and the climate.
The demonstration on Tuesday was led by indigenous leader Candido Mezúa, who bore a banner reading “Guardians of the Forest: end the devastation of the forest and the killing of forest people.”
Behind them, dozens of climate, environment and indigenous rights activists marched in silence, some bearing photographs of defenders who have been killed in recent years, including Berta Caceres, Chut Wutty and Edwin Chota.
Last year was the deadliest ever for environment and land activists, according to the NGO Global Witness. With 158 already killed this year, the death toll in 2017 is on track to be even higher.
Representatives of these traditional communities said they had travelled from their homes to raise awareness in Europe about their role in maintaining forests, and to remind people once again, that preserving forests is the most cost-effective way of dealing with climate change, because the trees can absorb so much CO2.
They asked for more help from the international community in pushing for justice when activists are murdered and for better awareness among consumers about the consequences of eating meat, soy or chocolate raised or grown on former indigenous land.
“We’ve been brutally attacked by the forces of agribusiness and suffered as a result of the model of development invented here in the UK,” said Sonia Guajajara of the Brazilian Association of Indigenous People. “You need to understand that if there is no forest, then no economy can survive.”
Others said that they have been punished for trying to resist the encroachment of agribusiness, loggers and miners on their land.
“The situation in our communities is very difficult. Many of us are criminalized,” said Mina Setra of the Indonesian indigenous People’s Alliance of the Archipelago. “We need to declare that crimes against the environment are crimes against humanity.”
  SOURCE: The Guardian