Musician Sting lauded for work to defend the Amazon as death toll rises

A file picture of British singer Sting. — AFP pic
A file picture of British singer Sting. — AFP pic

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LONDON, Dec 11 — British musician Sting was awarded an international prize yesterday for his work to protect the Amazon rainforest and its indigenous inhabitants where a battle over land is becoming more deadly with a spate of killings in recent days.

The Global Citizen Prize was given to the 17-time Grammy-award singer-songwriter as part of his work with the Rainforest Fund, a charitable foundation he co-founded with his wife, Trudie Styler, in 1989 to support indigenous people.

The award was announced after two members of Brazil’s Guajajara tribe were shot dead over the weekend.

The attack took place not far from where Paulo Paulino Guajajara, a prominent tribesman defending the forest, was shot in another confrontation with illegal loggers last month.

“Climate change and deforestation has pushed parts of the world’s rainforests dangerously close to a point of no return but the work of organisations like the Rainforest Fund... are actively pushing back,” international advocacy organisation Global Citizen, which awards the prize, said in a statement.

“To date, the Rainforest Fund has protected over 33 million acres of rainforest.”

Indigenous tribes in Brazil are facing escalating violence under the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro, who has encouraged the commercial exploitation of protected lands. Tribes have faced escalating violence especially from illegal loggers and miners.

Following the latest deaths, Brazil said on Monday it would send an emergency security force to the indigenous reserve of Cana Brava in the northeastern state of Maran.

Global Citizen, a US-based organisation which works to end extreme poverty, also awarded British film director Richard Curtis — known for romantic comedies Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill — for his charitable work and championing the United Nations’ global goals to end poverty.

“We are honoured to celebrate and recognise these incredible individuals who place the world’s poor at the forefront of their work,” Hugh Evans, CEO of Global Citizen, said in a statement.

“Their efforts are a testament to how the worlds of policy, business, the arts and entertainment can make a positive impact towards ending extreme poverty, tackling climate change, and fighting inequality.”

Other award winners include Nigerian diplomat Amina Mohammed, deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, and founder of Greek yoghurt brand Chobani, Hamdi Ulukaya, for his work on improving refugee rights. All winners will receive their awards at a star-studded ceremony in London on Friday. — Thomson Reuters Foundation

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