As the fight over scarce resources escalates, justice systems ignore organized violence against environmental activists. In Brazil one environmental activist is murdered per week.
"There is no justice in Brazil. My house has been burned. I have been beaten. My family has been threatened. My friends have been raped and killed by loggers. Yet no one has been punished. I've begged for justice, but there is no justice in Brazil. We've all been abandoned by the state."
Antônio Vasconcelos ... was a key figure in the creation of the reserves and has long been a target of opponents led by the former mayor of Lábrea, Gean Campos Barros.
"I'm terrified. I feel my life is in danger. I feel completely insecure," he says. "Whenever I hear someone approaching, I fear it could be someone coming for me."
Several years ago, his name was found on a hit-list of community activists. When two of the others on the list – Zé Cláudio and Adelino Ramos – were murdered, the government provided round-the-clock protection. For three years, Vasconcelos lived with 13 police officers. "It didn't stop the threats," he says. "Every night someone would call to say they had a bullet not only for me, but for each of my guards."
Such fears have not stopped him campaigning against illegal loggers, farmers and plans for hydroelectric dams.
If indigenous peoples protest commercial exploitation of natural resources, Peru police and soldiers can now legally kill them without consequence.
That law, no. 30151, was promulgated in January this year and is, according to the IDL’s Juan José Quispe, a modification of existing legislation passed by the previous government. The modification consists of replacing three words – “en forma reglamentaria” – with another five – “u otro medio de defensa” – which Quispe says means that any soldier or police officer can now kill or injure a civilian without needing to use his or her weapon “according to regulations”, or by using something other than his or her weapon.
“We continue considering this law as one that grants the armed forces as well as the national police a licence to kill,” Quispe told the Guardian. “It permits a high degree of impunity. During the repression of social protests, police officers and soldiers who cause injuries or deaths will now be exempt from criminal responsibility.” [emphasis mine]
It's an outrage that our world has come to this! I appreciate your work to keep us more aware.