Ecuador: Justice for Sarayaku

Kichwa girl with flowers in her hand in Sarayaku Kichwa girl in Sarayaku

Jul 26, 2012

Good news from the Kichwa of the Sarayaku region in Ecuador: After ten years they have won their legal dispute against the government. Their right to self-determination has been confirmed. Rainforest Rescue supported the Kichwa with protest actions and donations.

Good news from the indigenous community of Kichwa, who live in the region Sarayaku in Ecuador. After ten years they have won their legal dispute against the government.

For nearly thirty years oil companies have been interested in the regional oil reserves of Sarayaku. The well organized community has been able to stand up against the pressure from government and companies. 2003, soldiers and oil workers stormed the region, destroying 260 hectares of woodland and placed 1,5 tonnes of explosives. To this day a large part of these explosives lie underground.

Now a statement of the Inter-American-Comission on Human Rights (IACHR) confirms the responsibility of the government for the violation of the rights of the Kichwa. They will receive a compensation, their land must be cleared of explosives. Furthermore the court of justice has affirmed their right of self-determined, equal development.

”We thank all those who solidly united stand up for the rights of indigenous people“

The natives had sued the Ecuadorian government for violation of their land right, human right and their legitimate autonomy. They demanded for their legal right of free prior informed consent (ILO 169).

The license for oil production, given by the government, endangers the Kichwas cultural and territorial integrity. Sarayaku is located in the Amazonian region, in the midst of still intact jungle in the South-East of the country.

In a letter addressed to the support-organizations the Kichwa commented on their success: ”Sarayaku declares satisfaction towards this victory. We won the fight thanks to the immense support of the people and organizations, who solidly united stand up for the rights of indigenous people. Sarayaku declares that we will watch carefully over others to obey the court decision and that the territory of indigenous people are respected. Especially towards harmful projects, such as oil production.“

Rainforest Rescue has supported the Kichwa with protest actions and donations. In the name of Sarayaku we thank our supporters and partners.