More than 1,700 environmental and land defenders have been killed in the last decade. Most of them were Indigenous people — and most were in Latin America, a DW analysis shows.

When Indonesia’s government decided to build a new capital, environmental defenders sounded the alarm. Sinking Jakarta will be the first metropolis to lose its capital status due to the climate crisis. But the decision to house the seat of government on the lush island of Borneo could worsen environmental damage in the archipelago and displace Indigenous communities from their ancestral lands, critics say.

While plans for a new capital city are recent, the fight for land rights is an old story for native Borneans. In 2020, three Indigenous farmers were jailed after harvesting from land they said a palm oil firm stole from them. One of the farmers, Hermanus Bin Bison, died in police custody shortly after he was imprisoned.

Bison is just one of many environmental defenders globally who has paid the ultimate price for protecting the lands they inhabit from extractive industries or for working to protect the environment. 

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