What if you were murdered simply for speaking up for the planet?
Shocking new research reveals at least 185 environmental activists were murdered fighting for the planet last year.
It was the deadliest year on record – yet you won’t see this story in the newspapers, nor the all culprits punished.
Berta Caceres is one murdered activist whose name is gradually beginning to be heard across the globe, as people call for justice in both the Global South and on the streets of European cities. Just last week a protest was held outside the Honduran Embassy in London calling for justice.
Honduran activist Berta had just a short 45 years to make an impact, but the mark she left on the world was huge. She set up an organisation for indigenous rights, took on powerful loggers and plantation owners and spent 10 years fighting a destructive dam. Despite facing constant death threats Berta and her fellow activists have so-far scuppered the dam, leaving land rights, as well as access to water and food intact for local communities.
Determined to campaign for indigenous and human rights alongside environmental protection, Berta showed us that campaigning does not need to be put into a neat green box. She showed us not to be won-over or silenced by those in power – sadly it was this uncompromising desire for justice that eventually cost her her life.
Her actions will inspire a generation of activists, they will tell indigenous people and women to speak louder and louder until they are heard. In a world where profit often beats planet, and in a country where countless activists are murdered every year, Berta was a shining light of resistance. But her message lives on only if we amplify it, so let’s do that. Let’s make sure everyone is talking about Berta and the many other activists who fight tooth and nail for people and planet.
As we speak up about these amazing activists and protect their memory, we must call for justice too. Our leaders talk a big game about stopping climate change and preserving precious parts of our planet but if they fail to protect people like Berta how can they live up to these words? Who will save the saviours of our planet?
It is Berta, Jose, Maria, and countless others who are on the frontline of climate change waging a war against those in power. They risk their lives and those of our families to do so. Those that kill them rob us of much needed hope of preserving this earth. That’s why it’s time for the Honduran government and governments across the world to stand up and take action. No sooner than now.
About India Thorogood
Digital Campaigner at Greenpeace UK