On May 23, 2015, it was reported that Jopi Peranginangin, an Indonesian activist “who opposed unbridled palm oil expansion,” was stabbed to death in Jakarta (the motive is not yet clear). Four days later a report emerged of a protestor being killed by police in Sinoe County in Liberia during protests against palm oil company Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL). Details remain sketchy, but a local official who had fled the police, said: “We are in the bush right now. They have killed one of our brothers … For our own land, they are killing us.” A few days later in Cameroon, well-known environmental activist Christopher Achobang was arrested after trying to mediate a land dispute, but was later released without charge.
Sadly, these tragedies show the cost of resisting environmental destruction is constantly rising. A recent report by Global Witness found that two people are murdered every week for their environmental activism – with at least 116 killed in 2014. Most lost their lives in disputes over hydropower, mining and agribusiness, and 40 per cent of the victims were indigenous. In India, the Intelligence Bureau has labelled Greenpeace “a threat to national security,” and Priya Pillai, the activist who drove a successful campaign against plans by UK company Essar to create an open-cast mine in the Mahan Forest in Madhya Pradash, has been harassed, intimidated and earlier this year was prevented from travelling to the UK to lobby MPs.