Forest activist probing Romania illegal logging beaten by thugs

Earlier this week, a physical assault on an environmental activist in the forests of Romania marked the latest in a string of such attacks around the world and further highlights the need for government authorities to take meaningful enforcement action in response.

Gabriel Păun of the Romanian non-profit Agent Green, on the invitation of local people concerned about activities within natural protected areas, was monitoring an area in Râul Alb, Sălaşul de Sus, Hunedoara County when he and two guides were chased and violently attacked by a large group of men.

Păun and one of the guides were cornered and beaten by the group. The attack, which occurred on Sunday, was caught on film by the victims.

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Legal representatives of Păun have issued a statement that the attack took place in relation to logging connected to the construction of hydro-electric power plants and that at least one of the leading assailants was both a local councillor and an employee of the company behind the plants’ construction.

Earlier this month, UK-based NGO Global Witness released the report How Many More? documenting the increasing number of murders of environmental activists around the world.

“This is a critical human rights issue, pure and simple,” said EIA UK Forests Campaign team leader Faith Doherty. “These events in Romania – and in many other parts of the world –underline the extreme danger faced by many environmental activists who are doing nothing more than attempting to protect their forests and ancestral lands from destruction and exploitation at the hands of ruthless criminals, corrupt corporate entities, corrupt politicians and the thugs they employ.

“This isn’t just happening on the front lines of forest destruction in Asia, Africa, and South America, this is happening right here in Europe and it’s totally unacceptable. EIA calls on the relevant authorities to ensure that the rule of law is upheld and for enforcement agencies to transparently investigate all such cases and to bring those responsible to justice.”

Alexander von Bismarck, Executive Director of EIA US, added: “EIA has had the honour of working closely with civil society in Romania to monitor and improve the governance of their forests. They are under constant threat of violence by organised crime. The Government of Romania, the foreign companies buying the wood and foreign countries allowing the wood to be traded need to immediately show support for their efforts and help to ensure their safety.”

  • Traian Tuță

    What would you say about the fact that the government in Romania and people with ‘legal’ power and authority do nothing to back citizens and protect both them as well as the physicality of the country – not through political debates but through practical and pragmatic decisions.

    Aren’t then the citizens morally and ethically obliged to defend what they respect even when the leaders of the country don’t ? In an European context with European standards and desires for a life worth living.
    There is no mediation between those who have brains to protect their future and those who sell and cancel a potentially thriving lifetime for pocket change. There can be no legal understanding and faith that these things will be solved by authorities when the very same authorities …authorize and back the theft.

    All the countries on this Earth belong to the people that work hard, belong to the massive numbers that nobody will ever personally get to know. The countries on this Earth do not belong to presidents, political leaders and their crooked and wicked lifetime desires.

  • Pitu Guli

    The mafia group which perpetrated the savage attack is totally backed up by the local police. When the police came, very late, they did not even try to disguise that are hand and glove with the mafia. This mafia is in charge of destroying the river, inside two overlapping protected areas, in order to gain ”green” certificates (sadistic irony), with two flagrant illegal hydropower plants. This is not the first incident on the still pristine valley of Raul Alb. The valley is guarded continuously by the vicious mobsters that you can see in the images. The policemen and the offenders are long since aligned what to declare, if someone dares to come to see what happenes in the valley and is injured, so that the victim is considered guilty. The devastation of the nature park (which is also a geopark included in the Global and European networks) and Natura 2000 site (which is declared for species of fish, otter and a priority species of crayfish) is backed up by the minister of environment, which refuses to respond to a petition with 109 thousands signitures. Some of the mobsters are in charge of illegal logging in the nature park where the attack took place and in the national park above.

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