AMAZON WATCH » New Witch Hunt in Ecuador Against Indigenous and Environment Defenders

The Shuar situation about which Acción Ecológica had been sounding the alarm involved the escalation of the conflict between the Shuar community of Nankints, the government, and a Chinese mining conglomerate Explorcobres S.A. (EXSA). The government had granted EXSA rights to mine for copper in the area of San Carlos Panantza, which overlaps with Shuar ancestral territory, without seeking the consent of – let alone properly consulting with – the Shuar, despite the fact that international and Ecuadorian law require such consultation. As the mining project moved forward, the Shuar tried to engage various government entities in dialogue.Those attempts at dialogue were brutally interrupted in August when military and police forces forcibly evicted Shuar families from land the company needed for the mine. After a lack of adequate response from the government, in late November the Shuar attempted to return to those lands and were met with heavy police and military presence, including air assaults. When the vice president of FICSH tried to mediate, he was arrested. Instead of heading calls from regional and national indigenous federations for mediated dialogue, the government continued its heavy-handed approach, and the conflict escalated. Last week those protests turned violent, resulting in several injuries and the death of one policeman. The government then declared a 30-day “state of emergency” – essentially the suspension of rights and due process – and sent in the military, complete with armored tanks. President Rafael Correa wasted no time in taking to the airwaves and Twitter to defame the Shuar, calling them “semi-delinquents” and implying that they’re using extortion for material gain.

Source: AMAZON WATCH » New Witch Hunt in Ecuador Against Indigenous and Environment Defenders