Activists held a memorial in Glasgow for those unable to attend this year’s U.N. climate summit: 1,005 land and environmental defenders who have been murdered since the 2015 Paris Agreement. One in three of those defenders killed was an Indigenous person. This comes as 2020 was the most dangerous year on record for environmental and land defenders. We speak with Andrea Ixchíu, a Maya K’iche’ leader, journalist and human rights defender based in Guatemala. Ixchíu says that the Guatemalan government, influenced by transnational corporate interests, has launched an assault on Indigenous land defenders: “They [Indigenous leaders] are not allowed to be in their communities defending their land and their territory because of the militizariation.” Speaking on COP26, Ixchíu says, “We do not just want to be observers,” and “If you want to create more solutions to the climate crisis, it’s really important to give land back to Indigenous communities.” We’re also joined by Global Witness senior adviser Louis Wilson, who helped organize the memorial and discusses the cases of murdered South African activist Fikile Ntshangase, who was a leading force in the fight against the Tendele coal mine before she was killed last October, and Óscar Eyraud Adams, a Mexican water activist killed last September as he fought for the water rights of the Indigenous peoples impacted by the excessive use of aquifers by large beer and wine companies.
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