IUCN expresses its shock at the police shooting of 11 people during mass protests over a copper plant in south India, which residents say is causing pollution in the area.
Police fired live ammunition at environmental protesters rallying against the Sterlite Copper plant in the port city of Thoothukudi on 22 May after protests against the plant turned violent. Ten people were killed and about 80 wounded, with another protester killed on 23 May.
“We are appalled by this unnecessary loss of lives. Governments should respect citizens’ right to protest, and never use lethal force against protesters. A healthy environment is also a human right that should be respected,” said IUCN Director General Inger Andersen.
She evoked IUCN resolution 2.37 adopted at the 2000 IUCN World Conservation Congress, Support for Environmental Defenders, which calls for the IUCN Director General to speak out publically and forcefully to discourage harassment or persecution of environmental advocates.
Local residents say that the copper plant is contaminating the air and fisheries in the area. Residents and environmentalists have been protesting against plans to expand the plant, which has been shut down on several occasions over allegations of pollution, and fined over breaches of environmental regulations.
IUCN calls on world governments to engage in dialogue with environmental protesters and to strive to resolve environmental issues peacefully.