NEWS RELEASE 23 November 2020, 12.00pm EST
Source: Shuar Arutam People’s Government Council, COICA, CONFENAIE, CONAIE
The complaint is based on the violation of the right to consultation in the granting of concessions in more than half of the Shuar Arutam territory in the Ecuadorian Amazon
Maikiuants- Morona Santiago, Ecuador; November 23, 2020.- Today in an assembly in the presence of territorial leaders, youth, women and children, Josefina Tunki, president of the Shuar Arutam People (PSHA) announced in a virtual event, that the PSHA will file a complaint to the International Labour Organization (ILO) based on non-compliance with article 24 of Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the International Treaty.
“All together today, we have unanimously declared “No” to large-scale extractivist mining companies in the territory of the Shuar Arutam People … The entire territory is under concession and with these harsh threats, we the Shuar Arutam People lay claim to our collective rights guaranteed in the international treaty of the ILO which empowers our [self-determination]! Let the companies withdraw! The Shuar Arutam People declare, “No to mining,” said Josefina Tunki, President, in front of a hall packed with community representatives.
Also present at the event was Dr. Mario Melo the PSHA’s lawyer. Melo stated that “Since 1999, the Ecuadorian State has promised to comply with a set of collective rights of indigenous peoples enshrined in ILO Convention 169. In this agreement, which in our country has constitutional status, the rights to self-determination, cultural identity, territory and to free and informed prior consultation are protected for Indigenous peoples. It is the Ecuadorian government’s responsibility to comply with these agreements, but unfortunately and systematically they have been ignored by the governments of the past and present.“
The lawyer noted that Chinese-company EXSA at their “San Carlos Panantza” project and the Canadian-company, Solaris Resources Inc. at its “Warintza” project, have violated these rights. Both companies operate in the ancestral territory of the PSHA through their subsidiaries. In addition, there are more than 10 companies that have concessions which cover approximately 56% of the ancestral territory of the PSHA.
In the virtual event, the PSHA condemned the Ecuadorian government for not applying their right to prior consultation and consent in accordance with international standards, noting that this right has been reduced to a mere procedure to be fulfilled in order to ensure the future concessioning of their ancestral territory. In other words, it is not an effective mechanism to guarantee the exercise of their collective rights. That is why they have considered prioritizing the right to self-determination over prior consultation, thus deciding to fight for a territory free of large-scale mining.
In addition, they point out that mining companies are dividing the PSHA. They do not respect the Governing Council, which is the representative body of the PSHA as dictated by PSHA statutes. Mining companies are harassing the leaders of the PSHA who oppose mining projects. Two days ago there was an increase in the presence of the Ecuadorian national police whose presence, according to official documents, was requested by the mining company Solaris Resources Inc. .
For these above reasons, the Shuar Arutam People, in choosing to exercise their self-determination, have decided not to allow large-scale mining projects to be imposed in their territory. They demand that the concessions that have been granted in PSHA territory without their knowledge, be nullified.
After the online event, leaders and representatives of the PSHA communities, travelled to the Limón canton and in a large march, were received by the Political Chief of the Canton to whom we delivered information about the legal action that the PSHA will present against the Ecuadorian government. He committed to convey their demands to the provincial and national governments. Similarly, the Mayor of the Limón Canton, Erick Bustamante, welcomed the PSHA in the municipal council’s office with the majority of his Councilors present. President Josefina Tunki addressed each of the authorities with respect and firmness, bearing the legacy of the decision of almost 20 years in which PSHA, in all its monthly meetings and annual assemblies, has declared “No” to large-scale mining in its territory of the Cordillera del Cóndor.
The Shuar Arutam People (PSHA) are located in the Amazon region, to the south east of the Morona Santiago province. Ancestrally they have lived in the Cordillera del Cóndor and the Santiago River basin, in the Limón, Gualaquiza, San Juan Bosco, and Tiwintza cantons. They have a population of approximately 12,000 people, and the organization was created by Resolution at the First General Assembly which took place between March 28 to 31, 2003, after a prior consultation was carried out in December 2002 and March 2003. The PSHA was registered with the Council for the Development of Nationalities and Peoples of Ecuador (CODENPE), on September 7, 2006, through Resolution No. 255. Its territory covers 220,000 hectares and has been organized into 47 centers or communities, which are distributed in 6 associations.
In Spanish: Josefina Tunki (PSHA), Mario Melo (TIAM), PSHA Press Contact: (+593 0982336506,+593 0991480866)
In English: Carlos Mazabanda (Amazon Watch +59 393 941 9559) Kirsten Francescone (MiningWatch Canada +1 437 345 9881)