Amazon Watch Statement on Recent Events in Shuar Territory in Nankints
- December 20, 2016
- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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Amazon Watch is concerned about the escalating tensions between the Shuar community of Nankints, the government, and the Chinese mining consortium EXSA (Ecuacorriente and Explorcobres). We understand the situation to have escalated after the forced removal of Shuar families from their ancestral territory to make way for mining operations that were initiated without prior consultation with the community, as stipulated by international norms and jurisprudence, even though the Shuar requested dialogue about the project on multiple occasions in previous months.
Amazon Watch has worked for nearly two decades in the Ecuadorian Amazon, and believes that if the government had properly consulted with the Shuar, such a conflict could have been avoided. Amazon Watch calls on the government of Ecuador, and governments throughout the Amazon, to fulfill obligations to conduct adequate free, prior and informed consultation processes with communities affected by proposed natural resource extraction and infrastructure projects.
The loss of life as a result of this is extremely regrettable, but Amazon Watch does not believe that extensive militarization – including military tanks and extended gunfire, as reported by the Shuar – and the state of emergency called in Morona Santiago province are the answer, and calls on the government to lift those measures. Rather than resolve the conflict such measures exacerbate tensions and put further lives at risk. Internationally-mediated dialogue, as our partners of the Ecuadorian Indigenous Confederation of (CONAIE) have called for, is the best and safest way to resolve this conflict.
Already, the increased tensions resulting from the state of emergency have spilled over into neighboring provinces. On Monday, the Kichwa of Sarayaku in Pastaza province, who have publicly declared their support of the Shuar and called for dialogue, detained eleven soldiers traveling unexpectedly through their ancestral territory in order to understand the soldiers' presence. After talks with the governor of Pastanza and the Brigade commander, the soldiers were peacefully and safely released to Ecuadorian authorities. Nonetheless, this situation demonstrates the danger of the heightened tensions stemming from the state of emergency and militarization in Morona Santiago.