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Extinction Rebellion honours land defenders killed for protecting the environment

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Image: Talia Woodin/Extinction Rebellion

Extinction Rebellion (XR) is making an important link with the deadly struggle for climate justice in the Global South.

In a recent newletters, the group notes:

"[On October 9], XR communities in Paris and London joined in a wave of solidarity for fallen Earth Defenders: those for whom standing up for life and for the natural world has meant death."

"The idea of this supportive wave came from XR Argentina, but was taken up as far away as Dublin, Cape Town and Islamabad."

"Last year, 164 activists were killed in the Global South for trying to defend their lands from corporate extractivism. Yesterday [October 9], rebels all over the world held vigils to honour them, coming together in a global solidarity action."

"The figure of 164 deaths is only an estimate. The real figure is likely to be much higher. Two Indigenous activists are murdered every week for defending their lands from Western extractivist corporations, and their names are rarely known widely around the world."

That newsletter adds that in Paris, "We had a visit from two Indigenous activists from Cauca in Colombia, María and Samuel."

"They thanked French rebels for joining the struggle for Mother Nature and encouraged them to continue but reminded us that their activist struggle back home is not only for Nature but for their communities and lives."

"According to Samuel, in the past month, 47 Indigenous representatives or guards have been killed in the Cauca region alone. Every day there is a rebellion, and the question of life or death is an ever-present concern. Our day ended with a tribute and silent procession."

In 2018, 84 Peace Brigades International volunteers accompanied, observed, and made office rounds on 1,334 occasions to support human rights defenders.

The impact of that accompaniment is tangible.

Ivan Madero from the Colombian group CREDHOS has stated, "The political deterrence that PBI creates is fundamental." Lorena Cabnal, an Indigenous feminist in Guatemala, says, "I believe that without PBI's accompaniment I would not be here today."

And yet the need for greater protection remains clear.

In 2018, in the countries where PBI has field projects that accompany at-risk defenders, 24 land and environment defenders were killed in Colombia, 16 in Guatemala, 14 in Mexico, 4 in Honduras, 2 in Kenya, and 1 in Indonesia.

Brent Patterson is a political activist, writer and executive director of Peace Brigades International-Canada. This article originally appeared on the website of Peace Brigades International-Canada.

Image: Talia Woodin/Extinction Rebellion

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