Indigenous peoples call for right to protect land, nature and livelihood in Ecuador

Photo of Leonidas Iza Salazar

KAIROS is gravely concerned about reports, from partners in Ecuador, of repression, arbitrary detention and arrests of Indigenous leaders, organizations and allies. This government crackdown is in response to a national strike, organized by the Confederation of Indigenous Nations of Ecuador (CONAIE) and ally organizations. The strike’s aim is to draw attention to increasing economic and food insecurity, violence and violations of Indigenous and collective rights. 

On June 14, the second day of the strike, the CONAIE president, Leonidas Iza Salazar, and other leaders of community and civil society organizations were arrested. Although the president was released as of June 20, according to the Alliance of Human Rights Organizations in Ecuador,  86 people have been detained, 61 people injured (18 gravely) and one person has died.

Government repression has intensified because of its aggressive policies in resource extraction. Indigenous communities and nations are resisting these policies and the concession of millions of hectares of land for mining and resource extraction which they know too well will damage their land, water, nature and livelihoods.  

 “Luchamos por todos y todas (We are fighting for everyone),” they repeat in their calls for support. But, rather than support the calls of its people, the government of Ecuador is protecting the economic interests of extractive transnationals with violence, disappearances, imprisonment, and criminalization of indigenous organizations – the very defenders of human rights and Creation.   

The Kitu Kara People, an Ecuadorean partner in the KAIROS World Blanket Exercise, has issued an urgent action, calling for the immediate release of all those detained, respect of the integrity and life of all the Indigenous leaders and communities, and the end of the government’s repressive measures. 

CONAIE has produced an agenda of 10 demands for the National Strike, including economic relief for the millions of families in extreme poverty, the right to decent work, a moratorium on mining expansion, respect for collective rights and a bigger budget for health and education.

KAIROS joins partners and networks in Ecuador and international organizations in denouncing the repressive policies and measures of the Ecuadorean government. We respond to the call for solidarity from our partners, Acción Ecológica and the Kitu Kara People, and call for:

  • Immediate release of all detainees
  • Respect for the right to protest
  • Guarantees of dignity and human rights of all
  • Investigation into all violations of human rights

On why they support the national strike, Acción Ecológica, a KAIROS partner, writes:

“The world is experiencing a deep crisis, not only because of climate change that causes daily disasters, floods, landslides, fires, cold and heat waves… but also because of the intensification of extractivism in the most vulnerable areas; agroindustry on farmers’ lands; accumulation of waste and impoverishment in cities. Who is addressing the crisis? Unfortunately, not the governments, nor the companies who are leading the destructive processes. It is the local, Afro-Ecuadorian, small farmers, and particularly the indigenous communities, who are crying ENOUGH to this destruction. They show us that the current battles ‘of an unfinished conquest’ take place in the territories of the Indigenous peoples and rural communities, with projects, policies and activities that deliberately ignore that there are other relationships with nature, that the priority is food, energy, cultural sovereignty.”

Image: Leonidas Iza Salazar, president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nations of Ecuador.

Image credit: “COMISIÓN DE FISCALIZACIÓN. ECUADOR, 30 DE OCTUBRE 2020” by Asamblea Nacional del Ecuador is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Filed in: Ecological Justice, Latin America

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