Featured image: Domingo Ankuash of the Shuar speaking at the Inter-American Commission in Washington DC. By Daniel Cima.
Cultural Survival condemns the action of the Ecuadorian government in the raiding of the Shuar federation, FICSH (Federación Interprovincial de Centros Shuar), and the arbitrary detention of its president, Agustin Wachapa, on December 20, 2016.
The Shuar have been organizing to defend their ancestral lands from the development of a Chinese copper mine. Under the San Carlos Panantza copper project, the Ecuadorian government conceded 41 thousand hectares of land to the Chinese mining company ECSA for a period of 25 years. The project, currently in the exploration phase, is estimated to deliver around $1200 million USD in annual profits.
To make way for the mine, the Shuar community of Nankints was evicted in August 2016 without their Free, Prior and Informed Consent, in violation of Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization, the Ecuadorian constitution, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Since the evictions, violent clashes have broken out between individuals seeking to regain control of their homes and ancestral lands and military and police who are stationed to guard the property and employees of the mine. Now, the government has declared a “state of exception” in the province of Morona Santiago, and militarized the community of Nankints with hundreds of military personnel, tanks, and trucks, and helicopters. The state of exception strips Indigenous residents of the rights to freedom of movement, freedom of association, freedom of assembly and inviolability of the home, among others.
Cultural Survival joins COICA (Coordinadora de la Organizaciones Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica) in making the following demands:
- We urge for intervention by neutral third parties in order to find a dialogue that does not deepen and aggravate the existing conflict.
- We call for an immediate demilitarization of the community of Nankints, insuring the continued respect for human rights and collective rights of the Indigenous Shuar people, guaranteed by the Ecuadorian constitution in article 57. 20.
- We demand the immediate release of Shuar leader and human rights and environmental defender Agustin Wachapa, and for him to be treated in accordance with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
- We condemn the Ministry of the Environment in Ecuador for their December 20th call to close the grassroots environmental organization Accion Ecologica.