Ecuador: Indigenous Peoples’ rights activists at risk following leader’s arrest

Released 22 December 2016, 18:00 UTC

On 21 December, officers from the National Police force forced their way into the Interprovincial Federation of Shuar and Achuar Centres facilities in Morona Santiago and arrested their leader Agustín Wachapá.
His arrest comes in addition to a series of acts of violence, harassment and pressure from the state authorities towards members of the Shuar Indigenous Peoples’ community due to their opposition to a copper mining project in Morona Santiago.
Along with the arrest of the defender Agustín Wachapá, on 20 December the Ministry of the Interior filed a complaint against the local organization Ecological Action Corporation (Corporación Acción Ecológica) accusing them of acts of violence after they published information on their social networks about the possible environmental impacts which mining activities in the zone would have and also highlighting the possible human rights violations which the project would involve.
Faced with these administrative proceedings, Ecological Action runs the risk of being closed down before the end of the year.
“The Ecuadorian government must protect the Shuar people from attacks on their community, and not impose states of emergency or arrest Indigenous leaders. These acts of intimidation only serve to increase tension and put the lives of more people at risk”, said María José Veramendi, South America researcher for Amnesty international.
For further information, please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations, 416-363-9933 ext 332