New film released to honour murdered environmental defenders

Gaia Foundation

After a month of bloody violence that claimed the lives of environmental defenders from Honduras to South Africa, today The Gaia Foundation releases a new film exploring how four communities around the world – all under siege from foreign mining companies – are fighting back.

In Defence of Life, a 30-minute documentary made by film maker Jess Phillimore, follows the trials and triumphs of men and women in Colombia, the Philippines, South Africa and Romania, as they battle the corporate mining giants that threaten to destroy their homelands, their livelihoods and in some cases, their lives.

A new interview series featuring leading ecological justice activists and thinkers from around the world, including Nnimmo Bassey, Vandana Shiva, Sister Stella Matutina, Mariana Gomez and Stephan Harding, accompanies the film. These interviews critically explore what makes a succesful mining resistance struggle and burst the myth that mining companies bring development and prosperity to the communities where they operate, and to society at large.

Watch In Defence of Life or the In Defence of Life interview series.

Released a month after the tragic murder of human rights and environmental defenders Sikosiphi ‘Bazooka’ Rhadebe, from Xolobeni, South Africa, Berta Caceres, a Goldman Environmental Prize-winner from Honduras, and numerous others, In Defence of Life aims to inspire communities around the planet who are facing similar battles.

The victories won by the communities in the film will bring active hope to others. Their stories demonstrate that, despite the odds and sometimes appalling consequences, sustained resistance by communities on the front lines can be successful in protecting their lands and way of life.

To accompany the film, Gaia is also launching a new briefing, Mining: Enough is Enough [pdf file], which challenges mining industry claims that the mass extraction of new mineral deposits is necessary to ensure the wellbeing and development of people and nations.

The Gaia Foundation’s Director, Liz Hosken, says

“We need nothing less than a deep transformation in our thinking, a paradigm shift, away from our human-centred ideology which drives the extractive economy. We can see this change in thinking across the growing social movements which recognise that human life and wellbeing depends on the wellbeing of all other species with whom we have evolved. The stories in this film bear witness to this – in the courage that frontline defenders demonstrate across the planet by putting their lives on the line, while our report, released today, shows we can find another way if enough of us become a force for change.

Stories from the film:

In Didipio, Philippines, local people are rallying against Australian-Canadian mining company OceanaGold. In just three years the company has turned what was once Didipio’s Dinkiday Mountain into a 371-metre-deep pit in its search for gold and copper. In Defence of Life reveals how locals are coming together to say ‘Palayasin!’ (Get out!) to the company, as they aim to prevent future mine expansion and force the multinational out.

In Yaigoje Apaporis, a 1-million hectare region of the Colombian Amazon, Indigenous people have been angered by Canadian company Cosigo Resources’ attempt to mine gold at a sacred site in their territory. In Defence of Life follows the unified attempts of indigenous groups to protect every part of their territory, for though the land belongs to the people, the subsoil belongs to the state.

In Romania’s Apuseni Mountain’s, the historic community of Rosia Montana are threatened by a gold mine that would level four mountains, raze 900 homes, displace 2,000 subsistence farmers and produce 196.4 million tonnes of cyanide polluted waste. Following the community’s struggle to stop the plans of Canadian multinational Gabriel Resources, In Defence of Life takes us behind the scenes of a landmark European struggle.

In KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, Ibutho Coal plans to dig the Fuleni Mine just 40 metres from the world famous iMfolozi Wilderness- a haven for the endangered white rhino.  The mine would reportedly displace up to 16,000 people. Inspired to avoid the destruction they have seen in neighbouring coal-affected communities, the people of Fuleni are playing a crucial role in the global struggle to prevent catastrophic climate change.

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Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights

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