Mongabay 15 August 2017: On June 21 last year in Sarawak, Malaysia, opposition politician and indigenous rights campaigner Bill Kayong was shot dead through the window of his pickup truck as he waited at traffic lights on his way to work in the coastal city of Miri.
Kayong was a popular land rights activist, whose killing has called focus to land and human rights issues in Sarawak, particularly in relation to the expansion of industrial agriculture onto land traditionally owned and occupied by indigenous communities.
Kayong was one of 200 “land and environmental defenders” killed around the world in 2016as a result of industry-driven violence, according to a report by NGO Global Witness. The report highlights agribusiness – as well as mining, logging and hydroelectric projects – as a key driver in these killings.
A July statement by the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, a regional human rights advocacy organization, notes the high numbers of killings occurring in Southeast Asia as well the large proportion of indigenous victims, and spotlights what they say is a failure of justice in Kayong’s case, among others.