(Selen Çatalyürekli / NFD Media – July 31, 2017)

We as, Northern Forests Defence, had attended the ‘Forest Defenders Conference’ at Oxford University, St. Hugh’s Collage. The conference was held between 20th -21th of June and organized by Not1More Organization.

The main focus area of these two days was highlightening the risks that front line forest defenders facing. As an outcome, ‘if there would be chances to develop collective strategies and methods to support the defenders?.’

On this pathway, morning section of the first day was scheduled for the talks and presentations of activists and non-governmental organizations from Honduras, Guinea-Bissau, Brazil, Cambodia, Austria, Kenya, Britain etc.. At this session, there was a great chance for the audience to learn about international reports on killings in different countries, campaigns that grassroot organizations are executing, methods to gather and inform communities and innovative digital tools to follow activists under high risks. 

The second day was fully kept for the digital security workshop that is held by gracious instructors from tactical technology collective. That day was very enlightening for everyone in the group. 

At the noon section of the first day, there was a round table session. On this session, ‘swat analysis’ method had been used to analyze grassroot organization in terms of their ‘strengths, weaknesses, threats, opportunities.’ Northern Forest Defense was one of that grassroot organization and from that session, many valuable evidences had come out.

However for me, the most touching moments had been shared at the following days, we spent together with 10-15 activist after the conference. The way, we shared and touched each others’ stories though (sometimes) we do not even know each others’ languages was incredibly amazing. Laughing together with friends with very strong character though they had lost their closest relatives or they had been sent into jail for protecting their lands. 

The most common and simple phrases that we hear from the presentations were about how so called ‘neoliberalism’ is applied by the ‘governments’ who have the deals with the private companies to destruct nature and local communities. In general, it was great experience to hear, meet and be in solidarity with the others that are struggling against the same shit. It was great to have chance to see the position of NFD in big picture.


At post conferences part we are still investigating the answers of the following question: ‘how this collective solidarity emerged from the conference can transform into something concrete, while we are facing life threatening incidents.’ Unfortunately, this week we have faced the very first incident to react collectively and share solidarity about the assassination of old couple in Para, Brazil. We will keep rising up the international community and interconnect our experiences by using Not1More as the roof organization. 

We recommend you to follow Not1More facebook page to keep being informed about the forest defenders. And also, we will share the very touching letters from our activist friends with you as a serial by NFD media channels. 

Once again, I am sending my loves to Fran, Becca, Gin, Steph and to all who have organized this beautiful gathering. 
 Next year, hope to see you in Cambodia.’