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Urgent Action in Support of the Civilian Population of Zamora Chinchipe, Ecuador

Source: 
Ecumenical Human Rights Commission (CEDHU)

(Quito) Through this urgent action, and in response to the events that occurred at the beginning of December 2006, we seek the collaboration of all persons interested in stopping human rights abuses against the civilian population of Zamora Chinchipe and Morona Santiago, Ecuador.

Soldiers Abuse Human Rights of Civilian Population in Zamora Chinchipe, Ecuador

On December 3, 2006 in the province of Zamora Chinchipe and the canton Gualaquiza, province of Morona Santiago, a peaceful march was undertaken to express disagreement with mining activity being developed by the company Ecuacorriente S.A. This company, which has not undertaken any prior consultation, seeks to exploit gold, copper and other minerals. In addition to generating contamination, mineral exploitation will deprive locals from accessing their land and will prevent the community from remaining in its current location.

Military Repression

On December 3, 2006, the population mobilized along a public road. However, when it approached the military detachment Gualaquiza Battalion 63, it was restrained for more than an hour with tear gas. Later, in the afternoon, the repression began again, despite the fact that a group of National Police officers were entering the area and were also affected by the repression.

A series of human rights abuses took place during this time including illegal deprivation of the right to freedom, physical aggression, torture, sexual aggression, restriction of journalistic activity and intimidation. While the number of people affected is numerous, we present a few cases:

MARIA LUCRENCIA MANKAS was detained by members of the Ecuadorian army and taken to the Ecuacorriente camp where her arms and legs were tied. She was placed in front of the solders who touched her breasts and her intimate parts. She was taken to a group of soldiers who were ordered to sexually violate her. A corporal overrode the order and prevented the sexual violation. However, she was tied up and they put her in a sack with gas. She was then transferred to Military Command N-62 Zamora in the company Ecuacorriente's helicopter. Later she was taken to Police Command N-18 Zamora where she fainted. She was then taken to a health centre where she stayed for two days.

MARGARITA CATALINA MENDOZA SAMANIEGO was attacked by members of the Ecuadorian army, sprayed with teargas, pushed and hit with a hose. Capitan Iban Cordoba asked for a powdered form of teargas and rubbed it in her face. Several hours later the soldiers continued the repression, injuring her with rubber bullets. After being detained, she was transferred to Ecuacorriente's camp in a truck owned by the company. Inside the camp, the company's cook frisked her.

RAMIRO BRAVO, journalist at the newspaper The Hour and TV Cable, and
DELFIN MONTOYA were detained and forced onto their knees. Their belongings, including a camera battery recharger, were taken from them. Their hands and feet were tied with packing tape and they were taken in a company truck to the Ecuacorriente camp. Ramiro was stripped of his identity documents. In the camp they were kept in a van. Later they were taken to the military detachment and once again returned to the camp. While detained they were in the custody of soldiers who prohibited them from standing. They were obligated to remain seated and if they asked to stand, they were repressed with gas. At the time of writing, Ramiro Bravo's credentials have not been returned.

Deputy Salvador Quishpe was detained by solders, his hands and feet were tied and he was taken to Ecuacorriente's camp. Later he gained his freedom via Habeas Corpus. Those who witnessed the detention within the camp report that soldiers commented that the Deputy should be killed but later said that this would be a waste of a bullet.

Various persons affected by these events reported that members of the Ecuadorian army that participated in the repression were accompanied by civilians who gave them orders. During the detention they heard orders given to shoot at people. In addition to these acts of repression, various members of the community have received threats against their lives and their households.

At the time of writing, the area is heavily militarized and the military presence is affecting daily life in the area. This situation, as well as the events described above, draw one to presume that there is a strong connection between the Ecuadorian army and the mining company Ecuacorriente. At CEDHU we express our concern for what has happened and we ask for your intervention:

To the President of Ecuador:
To the Minister of Defence:

  • What is the relationship that exists between the company Ecuacorriente S.A. and the Ecuadorian army?
  • Why have members of the Ecuadorian army taken security actions that benefit the company Ecuacorriente S.A.?
  • Why does the Ecuadorian army continue it repression in the area despite the arrival of members of the National Police who are mandated, under the constitution and the law to establish order?
  • By way of the constitution, all persons have the right to freedom of association. This right is being exercised by the population of Gualaquiza, El Pangui, Yantzaza, Nagaritza and other cantons of Zamora and Morona. We ask that the military be ordered to abstain from taking action that violates this or other rights.

To the Minister of Justice:

  • We ask that through the prosecutors that have jurisdiction in the provinces of Zamora Chinchipe and Morona Santiago, you investigate all of the human rights violations detailed here in order to determine the identity of the aggressors and to ensure that they are judged and appropriately sanctioned.

Addresses

Presidencia de la República del Ecuador
Dr. Alfredo Palacio
Dirección: García Moreno y Chile. Palacio de Carondelet.
Telefax: (593-2) 258-000 ext. 256
Email: luis.mesias(at)presidencia.gov.ec

Fiscalía General del Estado
Dra. Cecilia Armas de Tobar
Dirección: Av. Eloy Alfaro N-32-250 y Av. República
Telefax: (593-2) 255-9957 / 255-9958 Ext.: 131/223/226
Fax Despacho Fiscal General: (593-2) 255-8561

Ministerio de Defensa Nacional
General (R) Marcelo Delgado Alvear
Dirección: Exposición 208, La Recoleta
Teléfonos: (593-2) 584 324 / 287 800 / 287 802 / 580 431
Email: despacho(at)pop.midena.mil.ec

Please copy your messages to:

Honourable Peter MacKay
Minister of Foreign Affairs
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G2
Canada
tel. (613) 992-6022
fax (613) 992-2337
e-mail: MacKay.P(at)parl.gc.ca

Hon. David Emerson
Minister of International Trade
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G2
Canada
tel. (613) 992-7332
fax (613) 943-0219
e-mail: Emerson.D(at)parl.gc.ca

His Excellency Fernando Ribadeneira Fernandez Salvador
Ambassador to Canada
Embassy of the Republic of Ecuador
50 O'Connor Street, Suite 316
Ottawa, ON K1P 6L2
Canada
tel. (613) 563-8206, 4286/1-866-204-1735 (24h)
fax: (613) 235-5776

His Excellency Christian Lapointe
Ambassador to Ecuador
Canadian Embassy
Avenida 6 de Diciembre, 2816 y Paul Rivet
Edificio Josueth Gonzalez, 4th floor
Quito, Ecuador
tel. (011 593 2) 2232-114 / 2506-162
fax: (011 593 2) 2503-108
e-mail: quito(at)dfait-maeci.gc.ca