Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific demands a thorough investigation into death of environmental human rights defender, Dilip Kumar Mahato

Jan 23, 2020

Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific urgently calls on the Government of Nepal to immediately launch an independent and thorough investigation into the murder of Dilip Kumar Mahato, which occurred early on 10 January 2020. We strongly condemn this tragic event, and demand that the Nepalese Government take the necessary action to hold those responsible to account and provide justice for the victim’s family.  

Dilip Kumar Mahato, an environmental activist from the Mithila Municipality-5 of Dhanusha, Nepal, was only 24 years old. He was crushed to death by a tipper truck for protesting against the illegal extraction of construction material from the riverbed in Dhanusha. 

Dilip Kumar gave his life for environmental protection

Dilip Kumar had not long returned to Nepal from Bhopal, India, where he was pursuing a Bachelors degree in Engineering. Dilip Kumar knew that the illegal extraction of construction material from the riverbed had been ongoing for the past two years. He had been protesting this extraction ever since, even falling into disputes with people from the crusher industry. Last year, Dilip Kumar informed a local journalist about the illegal mining and, after the news broke, the mining was stopped for a few days. According to his relatives, Dilip Kumar was repeatedly threatened by those in the crusher industry for voicing his concerns against the illegal mining. This did not stop him from continuing to speak out against it. 

The murder of Dilip Kumar raises important questions about environmental and biodiversity protection in Nepal. It also highlights the extreme conditions in which environmental and human rights defenders like Dilip Kumar live, as they struggle to defend themselves, their families and their territories. 

Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific urgently calls on the Government of Nepal to take the following actions: 

  • Immediately launch an independent, robust investigation into violations of human rights and freedom, in line with international standards under the Declaration of Human Rights Defenders (Article 9 – Section 5) passed by the United Nations on 9 December 1998;
  • Establish a mechanism to ensure immediate protection for environmental human rights defenders, to prevent further violence and criminalisation of those who risk their lives to expose unjust or illegal activities; 
  • Immediately launch an independent investigation into illegal mining activities taking place in Nepal.

Dilip Kumar’s tragic death occurs within a broader pattern of criminalisation and intimidation of Nepalese environmental human rights defenders, and impunity for perpetrators. We call for an end to the corporate plunder of community resources, and an end to attacks on defenders.

Friends of Earth Asia Pacific demands that the perpetrators behind such crimes be held accountable and justice be served. 

For further information, please contact:
Prakash Bhusal
Pro Public—Friends of the Earth Nepal

Theiva Lingam
FoE Asia Pacific Regional Facilitator