The Peruvian authorities must ensure that all those suspected of their murders must be brought to Justice. They must also extend protection to the remaining Indigenous People who are being intimidated and exploited by illegal loggers operating on their lands.
The four people murdered were leaders of the Ashéninka people of the Peruvian Amazon. Among them was Edwin Chota a prominent anti-logging campaigner who had fought for his people’s right to gain titles to their land and expel illegal loggers who raided their forests on the Brazilian border. At the time of the murders they were preparing to bring their community's case and a complaint against illegal loggers to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
It was widely known that Edwin Chota and other leaders from the Alto Tamaya-Saweto community were asking for protection from the Peruvian authorities because they were receiving death threats from the illegal loggers operating in their area. Locals say that the loggers were taking revenge after having been reported to the authorities.
Pervasive corruption allows the loggers to operate with impunity, stripping the Amazon region's river basins of prized hardwoods. A 2012 World Bank report estimates that 80% of Peruvian timber export stems from illegal logging.
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Dear Attorney General Heredia and Dear Minister Urresti,
We are writing to express shock and deep concern regarding the murders of Edwin Chota Valera, Jorge Ríos Pérez, Leoncio Quinticima Meléndez and Francisco Pinedo who were murdered on 1 September while travelling to a meeting to discuss the problem of illegal logging in their community.
It is known that these men had received several death threats from illegal loggers, and that the local communities have been extensively threatened and intimidated by these loggers. It is shocking and extremely sad that the indigenous people of Peru are persecuted and intimidated by the criminals responsible for illegal logging. Please do all in your power to ensure that thorough investigation is conducted and that the criminals responsible are brought to justice promptly so that it is understood that criminals cannot continue operating with impunity in the tribal lands.
Please do all in your power to ensure that protection is provided to the Alto Tamaya-Saweto community so that attacks like these are prevented in the future. These attacks stain the reputation of Peru.
Thank you in advance for taking this letter into consideration.
Margaret Kennealy and the signatories below