Eugui Roy was a 21 year old biology student at the Technology Institute of the Valley of Oaxaca, Mexico. And he loved wildlife. He was also a passionate activist for the protection of the regions rich biodiversity. On Thursday, the 7th of May, Eugui was found murdered. He was shot at the ranch where, according to his sister, he was spending the Covid-19 isolation time “collecting insects, studying, writing for a magazine, looking after a few deers, besides creating content for his blog.”
Sadly, Eugui joins a long list of indigenous, land, water, and wildlife defenders who have been targeted and murdered, in Mexico and around the world. Last year, Paulo Paulino Guajajara, an indigenous Guajajara leader, was killed in November in the Amazon rainforest in an ambush by loggers in the Araribóia Indigenous Reserve. Philippine forest ranger Bienvenido Veguilla Jr. was murdered by machete in El Nido, Palawan in September, after he and his team discovered illegal logging activities in the area. Seventy-seven year old Jorge Juc, an indigenous Maya Q’eqchi’ community leader, was killed in a machete attack in July. He was president of the village chapter of the Campesino Development Committee (CODECA). Three other members of the organization were also murdered in the same month: Isidro Perez, Melesio Ramirez and Julio Ramirez. A leader of the indigenous Wajapi tribe, Emyra Wajapi, was murdered by illegal miners in the Amazon rainforest in July of last year. And this is just a fraction of those killed, from Ukraine to India to the Gambia.
Since the start of this year there have been more attacks on environmental and indigenous rights activists. Homero Gomez Gonzales went missing in January and was later found dead at the bottom of a well that same month. He was the manager of El Rosario Monarch Butterfly reserve and advocate for preservation of nature in Mexico. The forests that provide crucial habitat for monarch butterflies are under constant threat from illegal logging. Raúl Hernández Romero, a guide at the same butterfly reserve, also went missing in January. He was found dead in early February. And just last month 12 wildlife rangers were massacred at the Virunga gorilla and chimpanzee habitat in Congo. The deaths bring the toll of rangers murdered in this area up to 176 since the year 2000.
In a time where humanity and countless species are staring down the gun of extinction, we must see these incidents for what they are: crimes of ecocide. The assaults on indigenous land and water protectors as well as those protecting wildlife, by both illegal extractivists and by legal state violence at the behest of corporations, are direct attacks on the living biosphere itself. In essence, we are all under attack by those who seek to profit from the destruction of the fragile web of life on which we all depend.
May Eugui, and all those taken from us, rest in peace. May we remember all the victims of ecocide, human and non. And may we, the survivors, find the same courage to confront the perpetrators of ecocide in our midst.
*Illustration by Alejandro Solo Solors
Kenn Orphan May 2020