Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ecuador's government shuts down indigenous rights organization over oil battle

Jeremy Hance in Mongabay: Last Wednesday, the government of Ecuador shutdown the indigenous rights NGO, Fundación Pachamama, in Quito over the group's opposition to oil drilling in indigenous areas. More than a dozen government officials showed up at Pachamama's office with a resolution by the Ministry of Environment that officially dissolved the organization, the first such moved by the government which in June passed an Executive Decree that tightened governmental oversight of the country's NGOs.

The Ecuadorean government, under Rafael Correa, contends that Pachamama was involved in physically harassing an ambassador from Chile and a businessman following a recent presentation on oil concession in the Amazon. But Pachamma denies the allegations, instead accusing the government of violence.

"We reject violent demonstrations that come from any sector. We neither support nor engage in any violent act. We cannot be blamed for acts in which we have not participated," Maria Belén Páez, the president of Fundación Pachamama, said in a statement. "For our work in defending rights, we have been attacked publicly and violently by those who hold political power, and this has been widely disseminated by the media under government control. That is violence. It is also violence to dissolve an organization unexpectedly, without legal cause, without due process that guarantees self-defense."

Pachamama says it will take its case to court and file an appeal to the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights. Pachamama, which is the name of an indigenous Earth goddess, works to empower Amazonian communities...

A view in Ecuador's Yasuni area, shot by Geoff Gallice, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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