10. Murdered Environmentalists

Around the world, activists risk much more than an arrest for civil disobedience

Da Silva

Da Silva received death threats for speaking out     Photo: TEDx

In 2005, Dorothy Stang, a 73-year-old American nun and environmental activists, was murdered in Brazil for her attempts to protect the Amazon rainforest and aid poor families in rural Anapu. This made international news, but in general the murders of environmentalists and reporters who investigate environmental issues around the world go unnoticed. This year, the news picked up on at least nine murders, from Thailand to India, where Shehla Masood, an activist who protested illegal diamond mining and worked to protect tigers and leopards from poachers was shot in August. In Brazil, three activists—Adelino Ramos, and married conservationists José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espírito Santo—were murdered within a week in May. Marking a glimmer of hope for those brave enough to pick up where these slain activists left off, Brazil said that it will provide government protection for those who receive death threats. Whether those protections are stronger than the interests of lawless loggers and miners remains to be seen. Da Silva and his wife had already received death threats when he said during a 2010 TED talk: “I will protect the forest at all costs. That is why I could get a bullet in my head at any moment—because I denounce the loggers and charcoal producers.”

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