A grassroots summit.
On November 16, indigenous, mestizo and African-Ecuadorian community leaders, farmers, environmentalists, activists, and individuals affected or concerned about the environmental situation in Ecuador gathered at the Catholic University in Quito for the First Summit of Communities Criminalized for Defending Nature.
Over recent years, violent confrontations, repression and human rights violations have increasingly characterised environmental conflicts in all parts of the country. The summit was organised by a variety of social movements in order to publicly highlight political, juridical, and extra-judicial persecutions and abuses of social and environmental activists.
Testimonies of persons jailed, criminalised, shot and stories of those assassinated were shared and collected and the social, political and economic reasons and consequences of the persecutions analysed. The global nature of repression against movements opposed to environmentally and socially damaging projects was emphasised, and the summit declared solidarity and support for all social and environmental grassroots movements worldwide.
The summit participants later marched to hand members of the National Constitutional Assembly a petition for amnesty for the over 200 community leaders currently imprisoned for the execution of their right to protest and to live in a healthy environment. The petition also demanded an end to the ceaseless violations of human rights and community rights to ancestral land generated by mining, oil exploitation, logging, hydroelectrical power stations, and shrimp farming.
(Freely translated and abridged from Javier Mazeres’ article of the same title, published in the newsletter of the Catalonian Association Ali Supay – www.alisupay.org)