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M. Valarmathi


Valarmathi is a young human rights defender and a member of Iyarkai Paadukappu Kuzhu (Nature Protection Group). A Masters student in journalism at the Periyar University in Salem, Tamil Nadu, she frequently organises environmental rights protests and participated in rallies to support local communities of farmers protesting an oil and gas pipeline amidst concerns that a recent leak could irreparably damage cultivable lands.

Human rights defenders in India face a diverse range of attacks and harassment for their wor defending the rights of others, including killings, torture, ill-treatment, enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention, smear campaigns, and judicial harassment. People defending the rights of marginalised communities are targeted by state and non-state actors alike. Armed groups and private companies also target HRDs and community leaders for work related to economic development projects and their impact on the local communities or the environment. HRDs have also been labelled as "insurgents" or “Naxalites” (Maoists), in an attempt to discredit their work and justify their targeting.