By Ludovica Iaccino
9 September 2014
(IBT) – Four anti-logging activists have been slain in Peru, officials have said.
The four men, who belonged to the Ashaninka community, were on their way to Brazil to attend a meeting on how to prevent illegal logging in Peru.
According to other activists, the men had received several death threats from illegal loggers, who are believed to be behind the murders.
One of the victims was well-known activist Edwin Chota, often featured in the media for his attempts to protect his community from illegal logging.
"He [Chota] threatened to upset the status quo," David Salisbury, a professor at the US University of Richmond told news agency AP. "The illegal loggers are on record for wanting Edwin dead."
More than 900 environmental activists have been slain in 35 countries over the past decade, according to a survey by London-based Global Witness group, which reports on links between environmental exploitation and human rights abuses.
The survey said Brazil is the world's most dangerous place for environmental activists with 448 deaths between 2002 and 2013, followed by 109 in Honduras and 58 in Peru.
(BBC News) – Four Peruvian tribal leaders have been killed on their way to a meeting to discuss ways to stop illegal logging.
The men from the Ashaninka community were attempting to travel to Brazil when they were murdered,
Campaigners say the men had received several death threats from illegal loggers, who are suspected of being behind the killings.
Correspondents say indigenous people have felt under increasing threat from deforestation in recent years.
The men included the outspoken anti-logging activist Edwin Chota.
Mr Chota and three others were killed near Saweto on the border with Brazil, Peruvian officials said.
Officials said that they are believed to have been killed over a week ago as they attempted to travel to a meeting in Brazil. […]
The BBC's Wyre Davies says indigenous peoples such as the Ashaninka have seen their numbers dwindle and their lands come under threat from development.
Recent footage of previously uncontacted Amazon tribes wandering into settled areas has raised fears that they are being forced out of their lands. [more]
8 September 2014 (Associated Press) – An outspoken Peruvian opponent of illegal logging and three other native Ashaninka community leaders were slain in a remote region bordering Brazil, tribal authorities said Monday.
The activist, Edwin Chota, had received frequent death threats from illegal loggers, who he had tried for years to expel from the lands for which his community was seeking title.
Illegal loggers were suspected in the killings, Ashaninka regional leader Reyder Sebastian Quiltiquari said by phone. Pervasive corruption lets the loggers operate with impunity, stripping the Amazon region's river basins of prized hardwoods, especially mahogany and tropical cedar.
Chota, who was in his early 50s, and the others were killed about a week ago while returning to Saweto, the community he led on the Upper Tamaya river, from a meeting about the logging issue with Ashaninka leaders in the nearby Brazilian village of Apiwtxa, said Mr. Sebastian.
He said his information was still preliminary, but that a Saweto villager said via radio that the men's dismembered bodies were found at the community's edge. Chota would frequently confront firearms-carrying loggers, he added, a machete his only weapon.
The other slain men were identified by a police official in Pucallpa, the regional capital, as Jorge Rios, who was Chota's deputy, Leoncio Quincicima and Francisco Pinedo.
Peru's main indigenous federation, AIDESEP, expressed outrage at police and the judiciary in a statement for "doing absolutely nothing despite repeated complaints" to protect their brothers slain "defending their ancestral lands."
A commission of indigenous leaders from Saweto's district was expected later Monday in Pucallpa to meet with a government vice minister, said Mr. Sebastian. The police official, Carlos Quispe, said authorities later planned to fly by helicopter to retrieve the bodies.
Chota had campaigned for six years for the title for his community, emboldening other settlements along the Tamaya to similar seek legal claim to traditional lands, Mr. Sebastian said.
Now, he said, people in those communities fear for their lives. He said he would demand a meeting with President Ollanta Humala to obtain assurances for their safety.
Ashaninka are Peru's No. 1 Amazon ethnic group, numbering some 92,000, and Mr. Sebastian says violence against them has been rising since they began agitating for titles to their territories.
Chota had written more than 100 letters to state institutions about illegal logging and titling efforts in Ucayali, said Mr. Salisbury, "and he was an incredible incredibly dynamic and charismatic leader who gave hope to not just his community but many others by his courage and convictions."
He said he and Chota personally met with Peru's national forestry director, Fabiola Muñoz, in July and that forestry inspectors had just visited forestry concessions that overlapped with Saweto that were being logged without permission.
Telephone calls to Ms. Muñoz seeking comment on the progress of Chota's titling efforts weren't immediately returned. [more]