State violence is the murder of Kateryna Gandziuk, after she exposed local politicians involved illegal logging. It is the murder of farmers in the state of Madhya Pradesh by police. It is the lack of prosecution for the murder of Rosane Santiago Silveira, as she worked to protect the island of Barra Velha. It is the fact that Berta Cáceres’ name was on the hit list of Honduran military units trained by US special forces. It is the fact that the Fikile Ntshangase died protesting a coal mine that was subsidised and licensed by the state. It is the western capitalism that fuelled all of these murders.
In 2020, four environmental defenders were killed every week. Of these, Indigenous peoples were murdered in the highest numbers. Women, transgender and gender non-conforming environmental activists are routinely targetted with harassment, hate speech and discrimination.
State violence was also the violent policing of the vigil for Sarah Everard in the UK on March 13th, and in today’s Bill that seeks to reduce the ability to protest. Though these acts of violence are not explicitly aimed at environmental defenders, they are linked by a shared perpetrator. State violence is a barrier to justice everywhere, be that climate justice, racial justice, or gender-based justice. We stand in solidarity and rage with the Kisan Andolan movement, those living under the catastrophic regime of oil colonialism that stretches from the Niger Delta to Alaska, and the hundreds of thousands of people who risk and give their lives fighting for justice, safety, and freedoms in the face of state violence.
Fighting for climate justice is characterised as a struggle against state inaction, but in reality it is, and has always been, a struggle against state violence. The end to the destruction of this planet can only be achieved with the right to protest, and with the safety of women, trans, black, non-binary, and other marginalised communities.
State violence is a climate crisis issue.
Read more: On those killed for activism in 2020: Frontline Defenders. On those killed for defence of the environment in past years: Environmental History. An analysis of those killed for activism: Nature.