Statement on Violence and Deprivation of Freedom Against Forest Defender Salomé Aranda

Dr. Pablo López
Provincial Director of the Pastaza Judiciary Council

Dr. Maritza Reino
Prosecutor General, Province of Pastaza

Dra. Yajaira Curipallo
Provincial Delegate, Pastaza Office of the Ombudsman

Puyo, Ecuador – As the network of Amazonian Women, we express our TOTAL REJECTION of violence and deprivation of liberty that Salomé Aranda – our sister, leader, and defender of the Amazon rainforest – is suffering.

On October 29, Salomé was the victim, once again, of physical and psychological abuse by her partner, Mr. Abel Vargas. This is not the first time that this man has become violent and assaulted Salomé. We know the history of violence and intimidation towards our sister in struggle. This time, Salomé, feeling that her life was at risk, defended herself. But the aggressor took advantage of this situation, went to the police, and she was taken into custody.

We reject and denounce this unjust detention of our compañera and friend.

Salomé is an indigenous woman, a defender of her territory, and recognized for her activism against the extractive industry nationally and internationally. Leader of the Kichwa People of the Villano Basin, she has led the resistance of women against oil extraction in Block 10 since it began thirty years ago.

Women defenders are caretakers of our communities and territories in the face of extractive industry expansion. However, we are exposed to situations of patriarchal violence both in our homes and in our territories due to our political work. In the case of Salomé, her activism for the environment has made her victim of attacks and threats that remain unpunished in the Ecuadorian justice system. As a network of Amazonian Women, we have accompanied Salomé Aranda in her defense of her territory and her people. And we have also supported and known each other as sisters and friends, and we are witnesses of the state, extractive, and domestic violence that Salomé has experienced.

We demand the immediate release of Salomé and that a transparent investigation be carried out on the situation of systematic violence that our sister has experienced at the hands of her partner.

We demand that the Ecuadorian justice system respond to the situation of Salomé and stop being an accomplice in protecting the aggressors who put the lives of women defenders at risk and allow systematic violence to occur.

We demand the immediate release of Salomé and we demand that the Ecuadorian government take the appropriate measures to definitively end this cycle of violence!

Signed,

Mujeres Amazónicas Defensoras de la Selva

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