DOROTHY MAE STANG: “THE DEATH OF THE FOREST IS THE END OF OUR LIVES”

12 February 2019, marked 14 years since the gruesome murder of Sister Dorothy Stang, a

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Sr. Dorothy Stang

Sister of Notre Dame de Namur. Sister Dorothy was murdered in Anapu, in the state of Para, Brazil, for standing with and defending the human rights of poor farmers whose lands were being exploitation by big-time ranchers and corporations. Since after the death of Sister Dorothy, several other environmental and human rights activists have also met the same fate for speaking out against the exploitation of the human rights of the indigenous peoples and the environment.

 

 

 

6The world watched again in horror as hundreds of people and properties worth millions of dollars were swept away in the recent dam collapse in Brumadinho, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. It was heart-wrenching to watch, knowing that such a disaster could have been prevented. The Brumadinho disaster came barely four years after the collapse of the Sarmarco, Mariana mine dam, which claimed 19 lives. The enormity of both the human and environmental damages caused by the collapse of the two dams will take decades to heal.

 From the Amazonia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, and numerous other places around the world, national and transnational corporations that engage in the extractive industry and mega farming continue to dispose indigenous communities and individuals of their ancestral lands.  Sadly, they do this sometimes in connivance with corrupt government officials. The state has the responsibility to protect and safeguard the wellbeing of its citizens, but when it fails to do so, it must be held accountable. The fight to protect the environment is a fight for human existence. As Sister Dorothy aptly pointed out: “The death of the forest is the end of our lives.”

 

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