THE IMPACTS OF EVICTION
The displacement of indigenous people legitimized by conservation initiatives is irremediably eroding individuals, families and entire communities’ livelihoods and cultural identity: access to essential natural resources, sacred sites, burial grounds and medicinal or sacred plants is significantly restricted, families are torn apart and members of the community are forced to disperse and relocate in urban settings or foreign rural areas. Communities loose their livelihoods, their homes, their belongings, their food reserves, their access to water.
The violence of evictions raids, and their long-term impacts on communities’ physical, psychological and emotional wellbeing, is particularly detrimental to women and children, since they are significantly vulnerable to “psychological torture, and to verbal, physical, and sexual abuse, at the hands of those evicting them, [while being] especially vulnerable to illness and poverty following the destruction of their homes” said Milka Chepkorir, one of the Sengwer Indigenous People’s community members.
As concerns over the climate and ecological crisis are being mainstreamed across both state and non-state environmental (and political) agendas, climate change mitigation is being weaponized to further a colonial tradition of local displacement of indigenous people and state-led violence. This is eco-fascism. It is a product of years of racial capitalism and (neo)colonial power, rooted in white supremacy and born out of the genocide and systemic oppression of indigenous people.
The racism at the heart of modern conservation is made clear by the double standards we have become blind to. In some European countries, for example, people residing in areas that became national parks have been left to live happily and in peace. How is it that in countries like the UK villages, working farms and even whole towns can be found in national parks and considered a charming part of the landscape while indigenous peoples’ century-long settlements are framed as illegal and environmentally destructive in the global south?