In February this year, Carling was one of 30 or more environmental activists to be placed on the terrorist list Philippines President Duterte’s government. She says: “This is completely baseless and unfounded and malicious as it aims to silence us in the way we are raising our voices and taking legitimate actions to defend the environment and to defend human rights.”
Carling grew up in the Cordillera Region where the proposed Chico Dam Project threatened to displace 100,000 indigenous people and destroy their traditional rice fields and forests. The project threatened to tear apart the livelihoods and social fabric for the people living in these regions. There was fierce opposition and many protesters were arrested and some even killed. However, the resistance gathered the support of prominent politicians and environmental groups which led the World Bank to withdraw funding and the project was halted.
Since those early beginnings Carling has gone on to work with communities in The Philippines and across 13 countries in Asia. She has twice served as Secretary General for the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact and is a former member of the UN Permanent Forum on indigenous issues. She has been actively supporting struggles against expansion mining, aggressive agriculture business and hydroelectric projects. Carling says: “We are trying to protect the environment not just for ourselves we are protecting it for humanity for the rest of the world.”
Carling tells us she feels humbled by the UN’s recognition and sees it as an honour she shares with all the indigenous people working hard to protect our planet. “I believe I can still contribute more,” says Carling. “And I hope that this situation will change not only for me but also other indigenous activists that are facing threats in their countries.”
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