For Immediate Release

Tessa de Ryck

Valentina Stackl (USA)
+1 (202) 466 5188 x100

December 13th, 2018. Bangkok, Thailand—Environmental and human rights activists are facing a global wave of repression and violence linked to land disputes, natural resources, and climate change. In 2017, 207 killings of land and environment defenders were documented, the worst on record. In Southeast Asia, environmental and human rights defenders and their organizations face killings and other physical, digital and legal threats with women defenders especially at risk. In response to this violence EarthRights International launches a new action plan and interactive web platform titled Fighting Back: A Global Protection Strategy for Earth Rights Defenders.

“Earth Rights Defenders in the Mekong region experience intimidation, imprisonment and other threats,” says Tessa de Ryck, ERI’s Earth Rights Defender Coordinator. “In addition, a closing of political space in countries like Cambodia and Myanmar has also lead to attacks on independent media and criminalization of defenders and their organizations.”

The global protection strategy outlined in the report and accompanying web platform contain concrete actions that we at EarthRights International believe will help reduce the number and severity of attacks against earth rights defenders. The global protection strategy is based on the ‘protect, prevent, reveal, and redress’ framework developed by human rights, environmental, and funding organizations in 2016 in response to the growing pressure and violence directed at defenders.

Earth rights defenders are instrumental in supporting their communities to stand up for and claim their rights: they expose injustice, demand accountability from their governments, and change the laws that undermine human rights. “Around the world, brave activists, organizers, trainers, educators, and connectors are standing between the world’s most precious natural resources and the world’s most powerful elites,” says Ka Hsaw Wa, ERI co-founder and former Goldman Prize winner. “These activists need more support from civil society, funders, governments, and international institutions.”

With this new report and platform, EarthRights International calls for urgent action by all stakeholders to stop the violence against those protecting the earth to secure an equitable and dignified future not for a few but for all.

Note to Editors

Today we also launch the Southeast Asia Environmental Defenders Declaration that was drafted at the 2018 Forest Defenders Conference in Chiang Mai, Thailand. A unity document developed for and by defenders, the Declaration is aimed at states, the private sector, financial institutions and civil society and open for sign up here.