Ecuador Threatens to Shut Down Environmental Watchdog Group

Acción Ecológica has been a critical part of the environmental protection movement in Ecuador for many years. They were active participants with GJEP in the global climate justice movement as well. Acción Ecológica pioneered the idea of keeping the oil in the ground, which is likely why the government is so determined to shut them down.

This past November, GJEP accredited members of Acción Ecológica to access the United Nations climate talks to present the impacts of climate change on Indigenous women in the Andes.
Please help protect the important work of Acción Ecológica by sharing their message below.
– Anne Petermann

Acción Ecológica denounces the request made by Diego Torres Saldaña, Deputy Minister of Internal Security, to the Minister of Environment to set in motion an administrative procedure that would dissolve our organization on the ground that we have deviated from the aims for which we were constituted.

SEE SIGN ON LETTER AND EMAIL ADDRESS BELOW

The Ministry of the Interior claims that this administrative decision (MDI-VSI-2016-00033) was taken because we were alerting the public to “the serious environmental impacts and the ecosystem that would result from the extractive activity” in the Cordillera del Condor – the location of a Chinese mining operation – and to the violation of the rights of indigenous communities living in this area.

Yet these are precisely the objectives at which Acción Ecológica aims. Article 2 of our regulating principles states that our organization exists to “promote the defense of the rights of nature in order to ensure the preservation of a healthy environment and to achieve the right of good living (buen vivir).”

See this video report from Teleamazonas Ecuador:

We reject the assertion of the Ministry of the Environment (MDI-CGAJ-2016-261) that we have violated national law. We have been scrupulous in our compliance with the law and our actions are in full harmony with Goal 7.12.b of the National Plan for Good Living 2013-2017, which states that it is a priority “to optimize participatory environmental management and social control for the conservation of terrestrial and marine biodiversity, through processes of community integration that consolidate a culture of peace and sustainability in territories under special arrangements, as well as in the Amazon region”, as well as with other articles of the Plan.

The position of Acción Ecológica regarding the conflict in the Cordillera del Condor is and has been to request that a Commission of Peace and Harmony with Nature be established. We believe that in order to achieve peace, we need a complete and common understanding about what is actually happening in the territories of the Cordillera.

Acción Ecológica has been closed once before, in 2009, when the government used the same arguments it is using now. However, following clarifications as well as a national and international outcry on the part of thousands of people against the unjust order to close our organization, the issue was resolved in our favour and we were able to reopen.

Today we are again receiving messages of solidarity for which we are most grateful, from social organizations, movements, guilds, unions, associations, defenders of human rights, environmental organizations, feminists, and others. It is with this kind of support that we believe we will be able to defeat the arbitrariness and illegitimacy of this new move to close Acción Ecológica.

Acción Ecológica has worked to defend nature for 30 years. It is also an integral part of the International Federation for Human Rights (usually known by its French acronym FIDH), as we are convinced that it is only by defending the territories that support the reproduction of life that human rights can be guaranteed.

We will continue to defend the rights of both humans and nature. As the saying goes, “we are like the grass of the páramo that, even when pulled out, returns to grow again.”

ECUADORIAN GOVERNMENT:
AGAINST THE DOUBLE EXTRACTIVIST HUNTING
December 21, 2016

Dr Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador,

We would like to express our concern about the progress of mega-mining in Amazonian indigenous Shuar territory, where the community of Nankints in the Morona Santiago province was evicted in August 2016 to give way to the construction of a mining camp by the Chinese company Explorcobres SA.
It is known that this mining project is progressing without the mandatory prior consultation or consent from the affected communities, and that the Shuar communities have filed different legal actions without being heard by their government.

In recent days, in the light of the claims of the Shuar community, the levels of conflict with the transnational mining company have escalated in such a way that there is already one dead and several injured. In your weekly TV show 
Enlace Ciudadano of December 17, you disqualified the Amazonian indigenous people saying that “it is already about paramilitary and semi-criminal groups …” This criminalization discourse was accompanied by the decree of State of Exception and immediate militarization of the Shuar territories, for which your government launched a real hunt against community leaders and members, in a clear illustration of extractivist violence.

In this context of violation of human rights, your government has just launched a second hunt, attacking the NGO Acción Ecológica, known nationally and internationally for its defense of the collective rights of peoples and the rights of nature, threatening with shutting down and dissolving this organization, giving in to pressure from the Chinese transnationals because Acción Ecológica supports the Shuar people.
We, the undersigned, intellectuals and activists of Latin America, repudiate the extractivist violence of the Ecuadorian government and express our solidarity with the struggle of the Shuar people and with the defense of human rights carried out by Ecological Action, demanding that your government immediately stops this double hunt
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Please send your signature to: maristellasvampa@yahoo.com
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