|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||2009-10-01|
Atossa Soltani 202-256-9795 firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Koenig 415-726-4607 email@example.com
Amazon Watch on the Police Attack on Shuar Indigenous Protesters in Southern Ecuadorian Amazon
Versión en español aquí »
(San Francisco, CA) – Amazon Watch strongly condemns the Ecuadorian police for yesterday's violent attack and the unnecessary provocation of peaceful demonstrators from the Shuar indigenous community. The incident near the town of Macas in Southern Ecuadorian Amazon has reportedly left at least one Shuar indigenous protester dead, and dozens injured from both sides.
In response to today's tragic events, CONFENIAE, the Amazonian indigenous federation of Ecuador has renewed its call for continued protest. Given the potential for the escalation of conflict, we especially appeal to Ecuadorian President Correa and government security forces to show complete restraint in the use of force against its own civilian population who may be exercising their democratic rights to peaceful protest and dissent. We call for tolerance and peaceful dialogue instead of use of force to end the current conflict. We also call for a full independent investigation into yesterday's violent incident.
In a press conference late yesterday, President Rafael Correa offered to meet with leaders of CONAIE, CONFENIAE, and other indigenous organizations leading the strike at the Presidential Palace this morning. CONFENIAE is demanding that President Correa and Cabinet members travel to the region and meet with leaders and local community members. It remains to be seen if a meeting will take place today, or whether the strikes will continue.
Indigenous peoples in Ecuador have been protesting what they perceive as government policies that threaten their legitimate collective rights to their territories, resources and self-determination as required by Ecuadorian Constitution and International Law. The current round of protests, which began earlier this week and yesterday's violent reprisal are reminiscent of the June 5th incidents in Bagua, Perú. In that incident, some 650 police attacked Awajun and Wambis indigenous peoples of the Peruvian Amazon –who incidentally are from the same indigenous ethnicity as the Shuar– and who were also protesting government policies that threaten to give away their resources and their territories to extractive industries and multinational corporations.
The parallels here indicate a trend where governments are failing to obtain buy-in from a critical sector of their civil society whose existence predates the nation states and who are providing vital stewardship of forests and biodiversity.
Two years ago, Rafael Correa received global recognition at the Clinton Global Initiative's annual conference for his visionary sustainable development and indigenous rights policies. Today, we call on President Correa to live up to his promise of leadership and recognize the legitimate concerns of indigenous peoples and their demands for a more sound development path that safeguards the cultural and biological patrimony of Ecuador.