Government targets Amazon leaders, intensifying political persecution
PUYO, Dec. 26, 2016—A few hours ago, it became clear that the Ecuadorian Government is acting on a plan to arrest and detain indigenous leaders from the Amazon region, including those from the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (CONFENIAE).
The case initiated by the Public Prosecutor against Agustín Wachapá, President of the Interprovincial Federation of Shuar Centers (FICSH), who was arbitrarily detained on December 20th, now involves almost a dozen leaders from the provinces of Pastaza and Morona Santiago.
Security does not exist for indigenous leaders in the streets and public spaces of these two provinces. A network of agents and informants has been deployed throughout the south-central Amazon region for the sole purpose of finding means to incriminate and prosecute them.
A state of exception has been declared in Pastaza and Morona Santiago and both provinces have been heavily militarized. This allows the Government to enact a policy of censorship, defamation and information blackout, effectively blocking the transmission of communications describing the full gravity of the situation. However, witnesses on the ground experiencing the persecution for themselves have provided faithful testimony of what is stated here.
The unjust detention of six farmers, two professors and the President of FICSH, demonstrates the state of legal defenselessness against the violation of fundamental rights within a justice system that is appendage to a repressive and criminalizing Government. In this context we warn that what might happen to the leaders of indigenous organizations FICSH, NASHE, NAE, Fenash-P, Sarayaku and CONFENIAE will be the total responsibility of the current regime.
The consequences of imprisoning our brothers and using the state of exception to raid their homes and intimidate their families and communities will be the total and absolute responsibility of the Government. The whole world will know that, in Ecuador, human rights are violated, leaders are persecuted and organizations destroyed.
Despite this and fulfilling the mandate of our sovereign people, our work remains firm and unshakable; we do not fear jail. We have found solidarity in many organizations which have responded to the call of our people and are sharing the news about the problems we are experiencing.
The Government’s actions in #Nankints are unprecedented in history. The military is firing on the Shuar people, who were decorated as war heroes of the Cenepa only decades ago. Tanks have been deployed in Shuar territory, where helicopters are intimidating villagers. Farmers’ homes are being raided and police are persecuting leaders amidst ongoing violations of due process.
A police state has been established and apparently will continue until it satisfies the economic interests of its transnational allies. This is to the detriment of the interests of the Shuar people and a growing sector of the Ecuadorian population, who have joined the international outcry to reject the belligerent attitude demonstrated by the President of the Republic.
- 30 -