UN rights office condemns death of Mexico anti-dam activist

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The U.N. human rights office on Friday condemned the killing of an anti-dam activist in the southern Mexico state of Oaxaca.

Oaxaca state prosecutors said the body of Filogonio Martínez was found Wednesday and didn’t show signs of violence. But the office of the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights said Martínez had been shot to death.

He was part of a group, The Council of United Towns in Defense of the Rio Verde, which has fought since 2008 to block plans to build a hydroelectric dam on the Rio Verde river.

The towns in the area recently won a court battle against the government project. The region is also riven by land conflicts.

The council said five of Martínez’ fellow anti-dam activists were killed in 2021. Following those killings, activists won a promise of protection from state officials.

Mexico has become the deadliest place in the world for environmental and land defense activists, according to a global survey by the nongovernmental group Global Witness. In 2021, Mexico saw 54 activists killed, compared to 33 in Colombia and 26 in Brazil. The group recorded the deaths of 200 activists worldwide in 2021.

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