Ecuador indigenous leader murdered days before planned Lima protest – ‘His body was beaten, bones were broken’Posted by Jim at Sunday, December 07, 2014
By Jonathan Watts and Dan Collyns
6 December 2014
LIMA, Peru (The Guardian) – The body of an indigenous leader who was opposed to a major mining project in Ecuador has been found bound and buried, days before he planned to take his campaign to climate talks in Lima.
The killing highlights the violence and harassment facing environmental activists in Ecuador, following the confiscation earlier this week of a bus carrying climate campaigners who planned to denounce president Rafael Correa at the United Nations conference.
The victim, José Isidro Tendetza Antún, a former vice-president of the Shuar Federation of Zamora, had been missing since 28 November, when he was last seen on his way to a meeting of protesters against the Mirador copper and gold mine. After a tip-off on Tuesday, his son Jorge unearthed the body from a grave marked “no name”. The arms and legs were trussed by a blue rope.
Other members of the community said Tendetza had been offered bribes and had his crops burned in an attempt to remove him from the area.
Domingo Ankuash, a Shuar leader, said there were signs Tendetza had been tortured, but the full facts had yet to come to light. He said the family were extremely unhappy with the investigation and what they said was the reluctance of the authorities to conduct a timely autopsy.
“His body was beaten, bones were broken,” said Ankuash. “He had been tortured and he was thrown in the river. The mere fact that they buried him before telling us, the family, is suspicious.”
Tendetza had been a prominent critic of Mirador, an open-cast pit that has been approved in an area of important biodiversity that is also home to the Shuar, Ecuador’s second-biggest indigenous group.
The project is operated by Ecuacorriente – originally a Canadian-owned firm that was brought by a Chinese conglomerate, CCRC-Tongguan Investment, in 2010. According to the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, the project will devastate around 450,000 acres of forest.
“This is a camouflaged crime,” said Ankuash. “In Ecuador, multinational companies are invited by the government and get full state security from the police and the army. The army and police don’t provide protection for the people, they don’t defend the Shuar people. They’ve been bought by the company.
“The authorities are complicit in this crime,” Ankuash claimed. “They will never tell us the truth.” He added: “[Tendetza] was not just anyone. He was a powerful leader against the company. That’s why they knocked down his house and burnt his farm.
“The government will never give us a response, justice belongs to them. They will call us terrorists but that doesn’t mean we are not going to shut up.”