Posts Tagged ‘illegal logging’

Amazon Forest Defender Osvalinda winner Edelstam Prize 2020

November 25, 2020

The Edelstam Prize 2020 is awarded to Osvalinda Marcelino Alves Pereira from the Amazon rainforest territory in Brazil for outstanding contributions and exceptional courage. She has fearlessly and continuously been reporting to federal authorities illegal logging of the forest in the Areia region. For more on this and similar awards, see: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/award/CAA00E38-C320-41E0-9FD4-B3BF3DC0D54F

Mrs. Osvalinda Alves Pereira from Pará in Brazil is an Amazon rainforest defender and community organizer who puts herself at great risk in defending the forest and its population. Defending the forest from illegal logging is very dangerous, as laws are rarely enforced against the perpetrators of the abuses. Criminal logging networks deploy men to protect their illegal activities and intimidate, threaten and kill those who obstruct their activities which are causing the deforestation and destruction of the Amazon rainforest.

Osvalinda Alves Pereira and her husband, Mr. Daniel Alves Pereira, have received numerous threats for nearly a decade from criminal networks involved in illegal logging in the state of Pará. For more than 18 months they have been in hiding, with the support of the Federal Program to Protect Human Rights Defenders, Journalists, and Environmental Defenders; however, they are now back in Pará as they feel that, even if the security is not strong enough, they have to continue their work within the rainforest areas where the illegal logging is taking place.

“The courageous activity of Mrs. Osvalinda in reporting illegal logging of the Amazon rainforest despite constant threats and in standing up for her convictions in times when justice is required sets an important example for the resilience needed to protect and defend our environment. Brazil has signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and has committed to eliminate illegal deforestation in the Amazon by 2030. However, authorities are failing to implement and enforce environmental laws in the Amazon, which heavily undermines the work to protect the forest,” says Caroline Edelstam, Chair of the Edelstam Prize Jury and co-founder of the Edelstam Foundation

Large farmers involved in illegal logging often use land-reform settlements where poor farmers have small plots to have access to the nearby protected forests. Osvalinda Alves Pereira founded the Areia II Women’s Association to develop sustainable organic agriculture and to reforest areas where logging has occurred. She is a local leader of the Areia Settlement Project, which is geographically situated as a gateway to three major conservation units: the Trairao National Forest, the Riozinho de Afrisio Extractive Reserve, and the Jamanxim National Park, which are areas of great interest to illegal loggers. Pará is today the state with the highest reported number of conflicts over land and resources.

In spite of offers of bribes and persistent threats, Osvalinda Alves Pereira has courageously continued to report the activities of the illegal loggers. Criminal networks are engaged in the large-scale extraction, processing, and sale of timber, illegal land seizures, as well as illegal mining in the Amazon. They employ armed men to intimidate the local population. The vast majority of threats and attacks against forest defenders is never properly investigated or punished. As a consequence, forest defenders are at great risk, and Osvalinda Alves Pereira fears for her life.

“It is important to find ways to enforce national and international law and promote accountability for serious abuses of human rights. In this case, Brazil, should be able to provide protection to forest defenders who receive death threats. Impunity is not an option. The international community also has a responsibility to uphold justice and ensure the protection of victims and defenders of the forest, including both environmental enforcement officials and members of the Indigenous and other local communities, and to uphold the principle that nobody is above the law. This year, nearly 8000 square kilometres have been deforested,” says Caroline Edelstam, Chair of the Edelstam Prize Jury.

The prize will be awarded during a live-streamed ceremony tomorrow, the 24th of November at 5 pm CET, 2020 on http://www.edelstam.org

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/12/05/li-wenzu-wife-of-wang-quanzhang-wins-2018-edelstam-award/

https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/11/23/brazilian-forest-defenders-are-not-alone

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http://www.edelstam.org/news/threatened-amazon-forest-defender-receives-the-edelstam-prize/

Defending the Monarch Butterfly in Mexico costs lives

February 7, 2020

Mexican authorities are investigating the death of an employee of one of Mexico’s largest butterfly reserves. Raúl Hernández Romero was the second person connected to the reserve found dead in less than a week. The first death was Homero Gómez González — an environmental activist and well-known defender of the Rosario Monarch Butterfly Preserve in the Michoacan state. The deaths have alarmed environmental activists and human rights defenders in the country.

Amnesty International said it is alarmed. Twelve environmental defenders were already killed in Mexico in 2019. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/07/30/in-2018-three-murders-per-week-among-environmental-human-rights-defenders/]. The World’s host Marco Werman spoke with Erika Guevara Rosas, director of Amnesty International Americas, about the killings. Marco Werman: Homero Gómez González was very well-known for his protection of the monarch butterfly in Michoacán. He administrated sanctuaries to protect the monarch butterfly. But he was also a protector of the environment. He denounced, many times, illegal logging in the area and the increased presence of groups of organized crime that were trying to take over certain territories and land and threatened the environment where these monarch butterflies arrive every year in Mexico. Erika Guevara Rosas: We get a nice sense of his commitment to what he was doing with a video he posted just last month on Twitter. He’s in his butterfly sanctuary and thousands of butterflies are swirling all around him. He’s pretty happy and proudly declares in his tweet that the sanctuary in Michoacan is the biggest in the world. It’s kind of a sad video in retrospect, shot a couple of weeks before Gomez Gonzalez was killed. [https://twitter.com/miblogestublog/status/1222901129199009798]

Hernández Romero’s death, “along with the death of Homero Gómez, demands immediate investigation and full accountability,” tweeted Richard Pearshouse, head of crisis and environment at Amnesty.

‘Horrific’, adding that Raúl Hernández Romero’s family says he received threats regarding his work campaigning against illegal logging in the weeks before he disappeared. El Rosario sanctuary provides a home for millions of migrating monarch butterflies each year and draws thousands of tourists annually. But the reserve has also drawn the ire of illegal loggers in Mexico, who are banned from cutting down trees in the protected area. Before the ban, more than 1,000 acres of the woodland were lost to the industry between 2005 and 2006.

https://www.wvxu.org/post/killing-environmental-activists-has-become-norm-mexico-activist-says#stream/0

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/02/03/horrific-human-rights-advocates-call-investigation-death-second-monarch-butterfly

Liberian environmental human rights defender Silas Siakor wins another award

February 6, 2019

Silas Siakor smiles as his received the Black World Prize to the Fraternity from the Spanish magazine Mundo Negro and Comboni Missionaries on February 2, 2019 in Madrid Spain 

James Harding Giahyue reports that Liberian Silas Siakor, founder of the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) and winner of the Goldman Environment Award, has added another recognition for his work in Liberia’s natural resource sector.

Siakor on Saturday received the Black World Prize from the Mundo Negro magazine and the Comboni Missionaries at an elaborate ceremony in the Madrid, Spain.  The groups said they gave Siakor the award (€10,000) for defending rural communities and nature against concession companies and politicians.

Silas Siakor stars in a fight against illegal logging and political corruption in his country, Liberia,” said the Mundo Negro in a statement on its website.  “His work highlights the desire and power of people who want to change the world, even if they sometimes face the interests of groups that accumulate money and power” .

Siakor in 2006 landed the Goldman Environmental Award, the world’s most prestigious environmental prize, for exposing the Charles Taylor-led government’s use of illegal logging to fund Liberia’s brutal civil war that left 250,000 dead and more than a million displaced.   He also won the Whitley Award for Environment and Human Rights; as well as the Alexander Soros Award for Extraordinary Achievements in Environmental and Human Rights Activism.

Siakor also stars in the 2017 80-minute film, “Silas” about his work, which has been screened at a number of film festivals across the world. The film Silas by Hawa Essuman and Anjali Nayar, chronicles the life of its eponymous main character in his fight over the years against convicted war-criminal Charles Taylor and the illegal deforestation and corruption in his native Liberia.

https://frontpageafricaonline.com/news/liberian-environmentalist-wins-top-international-award/

Losing faith in justice system in Thailand – good editorial in Bangkok Post

April 27, 2013

I am re-publishing this excellent editorial that appeared in the Bangkok Post of 25 Apr 2013 about the lack of protection for environmental human rights defenders in Thailand. If only more newspapers carried such succinct and clear opinions:

The rally in front of the Appeal Court on Tuesday by 300 residents from Prachuap Khiri Khan to demand transparency in the murder case of environment defender Charoen Wat-aksorn attracted scant media attention.That is not surprising at all as most mainstream media have lost interest in the case, which has dragged on for almost a decade since the victim’s murder on June 21, 2004, regrettably with justice yet to be served _ at least in the mind of Charoen’s widow, his friends and supporters. It is understandable why these rural residents had to travel from their hometown more than 200 kilometres away to gather in front of the court, albeit in a peaceful and civilised manner, to demonstrate their “reaction” against the courts recent acquittal of the last suspect in Charoen’s murder case, 51-year-old Thanu Hinkaew. Their presence in Bangkok was not meant to protest against the Appeal Courts acquittal but merely to seek an explanation from the court and to ensure the case would be treated with transparency when prosecutors appeal against the verdict to the Supreme Court. Read the rest of this entry »