Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Activists Opposing Illegal Logging Murdered in Peru

The persecution and murder of environmental activists is an all too common event in our world, now four more people have been added to that list. The murders took place on September 1, 2014, near the Peruvian border with Brazil. All indications are that the four Asheninka natives were killed by illegal loggers. The Ashaninkas are Peru's leading Amazon ethnic group and they have been subject to growing violence.

One of those killed was the prominent anti-logging campaigner, Edwin Chota. Chota had been repeatedly threatened before his assassination and had asked for protection from Peruvian authorities. He was the leader of Alto Tamaya-Saweto, a community in Peru’s Amazon Ucayali region. He has fought for his people’s right to gain titles to their land and expel illegal loggers.

The other slain men were identified by a police as Jorge Rios, who was Chota’s deputy, Leoncio Quincicima and Francisco Pinedo.

The murders underscore the absence of military or police presence in the area. Indigenous leader Henderson Rengifo, called on the Peruvian state to do more protect indigenous people from criminal mafias.

Widespread corruption in regional governments allow these logging mafias to operate with impunity. This means courageous activists like Chota are forced to take on criminal logging syndicates while the government ignores their pleas for help.

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