The Philippines: Under Fire

March 1, 2017

They said they wanted to cut off his head and tear his heart out of his chest.

The car Alfred Lahai Brownell was traveling in was stopped by a roadblock and surrounded by 150 men wielding guns and machetes, “all kinds of weapons,” Brownell remembers. The men were members of a security force allegedly hired by palm oil company Golden Veroleum Liberia. They were drunk, had lit a fire and were dancing around the vehicle, breaking into it and slashing its tires.

“I prayed to God,” Brownell says, reliving the nightmare that occurred in his native Liberia in 2014.

Brownell and about 100 other attorneys and environmental advocates who are partners of the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW) came to Eugene for the nonprofit’s annual meeting shortly before this week’s University of Oregon’s March 2-5 Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC).

This year, ELAW communications director Maggie Keenan says a key focus of the gathering is “defending the defenders.”

While the group has always supported its international array of attorneys, scientists and advocates, Keenan says there has been an uptick in attacks on ELAW partners around the world, and ELAW is working to improve the personal, digital and organizational security of its grassroots environmental lawyers.

From Africa to Mexico to the Philippines, ELAW and other environmental attorneys have been assaulted, arrested and murdered.

http://www.eugeneweekly.com/20170301/lead-story/under-fire

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