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Training and capacity-building for a group of environmental rights defenders in Sumatra

At the request of a grassroots group of human rights defenders from North Sumatra (Indonesia), Peace Brigades International and the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) organised a safety and protection training in February 2020, funded by

For four days, twenty environmental rights lawyers and other defenders built on their existing security practices to strengthen their security as individuals and within their organizations. The participants, coming from nine different organisations, also used the opportunity to consolidate efforts on how to push for a full investigation into the killing of Golfrid Siregar, a lawyer with WALHI (Friends of the Earth Indonesia). Golfrid was killed in mysterious circumstances in October 2019, and his murder is believed to be associated with his work defending local communities and their forests against megaprojects.

The diverse ecosystems of Sumatran rainforests contain many critically threatened species, such as the Sumatran tiger, the two most endangered species of orangutan, pygmy elephants and Sumatran rhinoceros, as well as the source of livelihoods for millions of people. In recent years, the environmental lawyers and other human rights defenders on the island have been subject to threats from both state and non-state actors.