Indigenous groups from across Ecuador rose up last week in a General Strike to challenge proposed Constitutional amendments curtailing indigenous rights and allowing President Correa to stay in power indefinitely; the water law; expansion of the mining and fossil fuel concessions; and the government’s opposition to bilingual education, among many other concerns.
The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) began a “March for Life and Dignity” from Zamora Chinchipe province in the southeastern Amazonian region, arriving in the capital city of Quito on August 13, where the Indigenous march joined a general strike called by the Workers United Front in opposition to the government’s labor policies. More than 10,000 people rallied on the streets of Quito – facing violent police crackdowns and confrontations. Across the country, Indigenous peoples and allies continue to hold blockades and demonstrations.
In solidarity, we denounce the violence and brutality that strike participants are facing, and express urgent concern about attacks on women standing for the Earth and their communities.
In response to the women’s request for international human rights institutions to call on the Ecuadorian Government to cease aggressions against people participating in the strike, and in particular against women human rights and nature’s rights defenders, we are circulating the statement of the “Women of the Strike to the Ecuadorian People and the World” (in English and Spanish), which comes directly from women on the frontlines of the ongoing ‘levantamiento’.
Please join us in showing your solidarity with women on the frontlines in defense of Mother Earth by sending your name and organization (if you have one) to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line ‘Women’ to add your support to this letter. Thank You!
Leila Salazar-López, Amazon Watch
Osprey-Orielle Lake, Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network, International (WECAN)
[ENGLISH] Women of the Strike to the Ecuadorian People and the World: Quito, August 15, 2015
Taking into account the worrying events of violence caused by the Ecuadorian government against women human rights and nature’s rights defenders reported in the Provinces of Imbabura, Pichincha, Cotopaxi, Pastaza, Zamora and Morona Santiago, we condemn that:
Margoth Escobar, a 60 year-old woman, was violently beaten, dragged and detained by police and military agents. Subsequently, she was sentenced to pre-trial prison for 30 days where she had to fear for her safety. This was solely for having exercised her right to protest against fossil fuel extraction, and being an unconditional ally of the Amazon’s indigenous peoples. The events of which Margoth is a victim of are a perfect example of the criminalization of and systematic violence against human rights defenders in Ecuador.
Manuela Picq, a professor at the University of San Francisco of Quito (USFQ) and a respected and renowned Franco-Brazilian journalist and academic, was violently detained and ill-treated in custody by the police with her husband Carlos Pérez, President of the Kichwa Confederation of Ecuador (ECUARUNARI). She is currently detained awaiting her deportation hearing after her visa was arbitrarily revoked. This government’s sexist cruelty finds its clearest manifestation in the aggressions against Manuela Picq for her participation in social movements and for being an indigenous leader’s wife.
In Cotacachi, there are several reports of indigenous women being savagely beaten by the police. Officers have deliberately hit women participating in the marches in their intimate body parts. .
These facts demonstrate how women fighting for women’s rights and indigenous peoples’ rights have being systematically attacked, persecuted, discredited and criminalized.
Taking into account the degree of violence against women during these events:
We strongly condemn the sexist and criminal brutality with which the Ecuadorian government has attacked and criminalized women who have participated in the demonstrations.We call on all women of the country to show their solidarity with the women of the national strike.We demand that women’s rights and their families are respected, that an investigation is carried out into these human rights violations, and that the people responsible are brought to justice.We demand that international human rights institutions call on the Ecuadorian government to cease these aggressions against people participating in the strike and in particular against defenders of nature and women human rights defenders.
Nina Pacari Katy Betancourt Carmen Lozano Ivonne Ramos Omari Yeti CatalinaChumpi Patricia Gualinga Blanca Chancosa Zoila Castillo Belén Páez Nidia Arrobo Ena Santi Josefina Lema Inés Cotacachi Lilian Herrera Esperanza Martínez Paulina Muñoz Ivonne Yánez Gabriela Ruales Antonella Calle
[SPANISH] Mujeres del Levantamiento Nacional al Pueblo Ecuatoriano y al Mundo
Quito, 15 de agosto de 2015
Considerando los preocupantes hechos reportados desde Imbabura, Pichincha, Cotopaxi, Pastaza, Zamora y Morona Santiago, de violencia contra las mujeres defensoras de los derechos humanos y de la naturaleza desatada desde el Estado denunciamos que:
Margoth Escobar, mujer de más de 60 años de edad, fue violentamente agredida, arrastrada y detenida por agentes de la policía y militares. Posteriormente, le fue dict