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February 13, 2005

Nun gunned down in Amazon

Topics: International News

A 74-year-old American nun was shot dead today in Brazil's Amazon rainforest where she worked to defend human rights and the environment despite frequent death threats.

Unknown assailants shot US missionary Dorothy Stang at point-blank range at an isolated agricultural settlement in dense jungle 50km from the town of Anapu in the state of Para, police and fellow religious workers said.

"It was three shots at point-blank range," said Sister Betsy Flynn of the victim's order, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. "She received so many threats, I never thought it would happen."

Sister Stang had worked in the area for about a decade defending the rights of landless peasants and small farmers and promoting sustainable use of the rainforest, according to the Brazilian Order of Lawyers (OAB), a national lawyers' association.

She recently won a human rights award from the OAB for reporting abuses by land speculators, illegal loggers and large landowners in the area.

Only weeks ago she warned federal human rights authorities she faced continual death threats for her work. She was on an OAB list of people who faced possible assassination.

"This death is just more encouragement to continue her work to confront the people who are destroying the forest," said Meire Cohen, of the OAB.

Posted by Hyscience at February 13, 2005 1:18 AM

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