On the 28th of November, Ecuador will begin awarding 21 concessions to the oil industry on land belonging to indigenous peoples – a total of three million hectares. Yet studies have shown that more plant and animal species inhabit that particular forest than any other place on earth. Moreover, seven indigenous tribes – the rightful owners of the land with officially recognized titles – call the rainforest home and depend on it for their livelihoods. Now they are calling for worldwide support against the government's plans to open the Amazon region to oil drilling.
We are observing your government’s plans to award the oil industry 21 new concessions in Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest with great consternation.
The decision pertains to an area of 3 million hectares mostly covered by tropical rainforest, including many intact primary forest areas. The affected rainforests boast the world’s greatest diversity of animal and plant species, as studies have shown (see Global Conservation Significance of Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0008767).
The planned oil concessions also violate the territories of seven indigenous peoples: the Achuar, Andoas, Kichwa, Shiwiar, Shuar, Waorani and Zápara. An overwhelming majority of the people oppose drilling on their land, which threatens their homes and livelihoods.
We therefore call on the government to:
1. Cancel all plans to expand oil drilling in the Amazon rainforest and on the territories of indigenous peoples. 2. Respect the decision of the indigenous nations to reject oil drilling, and honor their rights (see also the decision of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights re. Sarayacu in June 2012). 3. Refrain from manipulating public opinion with misleading advertising campaigns (i.e. “oil gives the Amazon life” or “oil now means life”). Stop feigning the consent of the indigenous nations with allegedly positive surveys (consulta previa) and disrupting the unity and social peace of the native peoples. 4. Instead, protect and preserve the rainforests and support the indigenous peoples in their development in harmony with nature – as enshrined in the Ecuadorian Constitution drawn up by your government.
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