Every Day is Indigenous Peoples Day

Indigenous People Lead the Fight in Ecuador

By Charlotte Cevallos Biren

Every single day we see Indigenous people taking action in ways that will benefit us all. They put their lives on the line to protect our planet and climate. We are asking everyone to support Indigenous Peoples’ Day by supporting them directly.

Over the past 11 days in Ecuador, Indigenous people have been met with violence and police brutality. Hundreds have been wounded and arrested and at least five have been killed. Yet they vow to continue standing up against cruel IMF-imposed austerity measures and any further oil drilling or mining on their lands.

Over 20,000 Indigenous people from the Amazon to the Andes have mobilized to Quito, Ecuador’s capital city, as part of nationwide protests aimed at reversing a series of government imposed economic austerity measures that, Indigenous leaders say, will deepen social inequalities, fuel environmental degradation, and lock Ecuador in a short-sighted economic system premised on the unsustainable extraction of natural resources.

In response to nationwide protests, the Ecuadorian government declared a State of Emergency, which facilitated military and police violence, arbitrary detentions, and limits freedom of association and mobility, among other civil rights. Hundreds of Indigenous people have been jailed, and human rights groups, including Amazon Frontlines, have issued reports citing widespread human rights violations.

Late Sunday, the Ecuadorian government and Indigenous leaders sat down and came to an agreement. Economic austerity measures have been lifted and Indigenous leaders have called for a new decree to be created, accounting for the most vulnerable and marginalized peoples of the country. As of this morning, the mobilization has ceased and peace is being restored on the streets.

But the conversation is far from over. Indigenous and human rights organizations on the ground in Ecuador need urgent humanitarian and legal aid to hold the Ecuadorian government accountable for significant human rights violations. Amazon FrontlinesLand Is Life, and AmazonWatch will channel the funds from this campaign to an Ecuadorian non-profit with 40 years of experience working towards social justice and human rights. 100% of funds will be used exclusively for:

  1. Humanitarian aid in the form of medicine, blankets and food for the tens of thousands of people who participated in the mobilizations and still remain in Quito.
  2. Legal aid to defend Indigenous people arbitrarily detained or charged with a crime during the mobilizations.

For more context, in a recent statement the national and Amazonian Indigenous federations explained their reasons for protesting and demands to the government:

For centuries we have protected our lands in the mountains and the Amazon, and we will not allow Indigenous peoples, Indigenous territories and our global climate to pay the cost for the government’s mounting debt to China and international lenders.