Amazonian Women Rainforest Defenders Achieve Advances with our Activism Support
“Thank you Amnesty Canada! We thank you with all our hearts on behalf of Amazonian Women. We will continue to defend our forests, our territory, our rivers. By gathering all those signatures on petitions you have supported us.”
This is the message that Kichwa Indigenous leader Salomé Aranda, Sarayaku leader Patricia Gualinga and Margoth Escobar sent us in a video (see below).
Salomé, Patricia and Margoth are leaders of a collective of more than 100 mostly Indigenous women human rights defenders called Mujeres Amazónicas, Spanish for Amazonian Women. They face threats and armed attacks against themselves and their families as they seek to stop destructive oil and mining projects in the Amazon region of Ecuador.
In the past year, Amnesty Canada has supported the courageous efforts of Amazonian Women by gathering signatures on a petition that echoes the demands of the women defenders for investigations to bring to justice those who attack them. Our activists contributed 9,000 signatures to a total of more than 252,000 signatures from around the world.
Salomé, Patricia and Margoth handed over all the petitions to the Attorney General’s Office, the Human Rights Secretary and the Ombudsman on March 9th, accompanied by Amnesty International’s Ecuador researcher María José Veramendi.
“We want justice, we want our rights respected,” the Amazonian Women leaders told the Ecuadorian authorities. “We are women of peace, but we are also like a beehive: what affects one of us affects us all. We will be here as long as there are violations of human rights and of our territory.”
Following the handover of petitions, the Attorney General’s Office committed to visit Puyo in Pastaza province to look into failures by the provincial Attorney’s Office to investigate attacks and death threats against Amazonian Women. The Attorney General's Office also vowed to produce a set of guidelines to ensure effective investigation in future of crimes against human rights defenders. Because of our campaign, the Ecuadorian government has also formed an “inter-institutional table” to design a Protection Policy for Human Rights Defenders by October 2020.
These commitments are welcome news. Implementation is vital. Our research team will be monitoring what concrete steps are taken in the coming months.
As Amazonian Women continue to risk their lives to defend the environment on which the survival of their communities depends, it is important that we continue to speak out in solidarity with them.
PHOTO CAPTION: "For Water, For Life! Enough of Oil Extraction" reads the sign at the front of a march by members of the Amazonian Women's collective and their families in Ecuador's capital, Quito, on International Women's Day, March 8, 2020.
1. Social Media
Ecuadoran authorities are active on twitter. Express your support from Canada with Amazonian Women and call for implementation of the commitments made by the Attorney General's Office (Fiscalia Ecuador) for justice and protection. Be sure to use the tags in the sample messages in English and Spanish below.
From Canada, in solidarity with @pumahuarmi, Salomé Aranda & Margoth Escobar, we urge @FiscalíaEcuador to implement commitments made for justice & protection of #MujeresAmazónicas without delay. Protecting the Amazon rainforest and indigenous rights is legitimate and admirable! pic.twitter.com/UszOHAFBB7
— Kathy Price (@KPriceAmnesty) April 19, 2020
Desde Canadá, en solidaridad con @pumahuarmi, Salomé Aranda y Margoth Escobar exijo a la @FiscalíaEcuador cumplir con su compromiso de justicia y protección para las #MujeresAmazónicas. Proteger el territorio, el medio ambiente y los derechos indígenas es legítimo y admirable! pic.twitter.com/dnrXZLyHZ0
— Kathy Price (@KPriceAmnesty) April 19, 2020
If you have not already done so, please sign our e-action seeking protection and justice for Amazonian Women
3. Learn More
- Read our report 'They Will Not Stop Us': Justice and Protection for Amazonian Women Defenders of the Land, Territory and Environment
- Read our March 2020 press release Ecuador: State must urgently adopt public policy to protect human rights defenders facing grave risks
- Read our April 2019 press release Ecuador: Faced with a lack of state protection, Amazonian Women are risking their lives to defend the environment
- Revisit this page in the months to come for a link to an upcoming Story of Change recorded in Sarayaku Indigenous territory with Patricia Gualinga
4. Art and Activism
At Amnesty’s AGM last May, activists reflected artistically on their own hopes for a healthy environment and then symbolically wove those hopes into a solidarity weaving which we later delivered to Amazonian Women. The weaving was accompanied by a photo album showing the activists who took part and their artwork. "We will keep this solidarity gift that you have given us in our hearts always," Salomé Aranda told us.
Think about how you might use art to make visible your solidarity with Amazonian Women or to raise awareness and engage support for threatened earth defenders. For more information, contact Elena Dumitru >> email@example.com
For inspiration, below are some photos of the activists who helped to weave the solidarity message we sent to Amazonian Women.
Contact Campaigner Kathy Price if you have any questions>>firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your solidarity with Amazonian Women!