Amazonian Peoples Denounce Dispossession, Violence and Deforestation of Indigenous Territories at UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
Leaders of the Shipibo-Konibo people have alerted to violence and threats experienced by their communities in the Peruvian Amazon due to the “systematic dispossession and appropriation of [Indigenous] territories by large-scale industries”. They warn that their communities and territories are being gravely impacted by the expansion of industrial agriculture, mining, oil and gas extraction, industrial logging, infrastructural mega-projects and illicit drugs production.
“We reject false solutions imposed by outside functionaries and institutions in the name of poverty, climate change, “development” or “the national interest”, without our free, prior and informed consent.” Robert Guimaraes Vasquez, Shipibo leader
In his address to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Shipibo-Konibo leader Robert Guimaraes Vasquez and representative of the Federation of Native Communities of Ucayali, highlighted the case of Santa Clara de Uchunya, a Shipibo community, who continue the struggle to reclaim their traditional lands after 7,000 hectares of their forests were destroyed to make way for an oil palm plantation.
Guimaraes issued a call from Indigenous Peoples in the Peruvian Amazon to governments, companies, financial institutions and investors to recognise their customary rights over their territories and their rights to autonomy and self-determination, to decide their own futures. They also demand that governments:
- take urgent action to address human rights violations, environmental crimes and organised crime associated with supply chains in the Peruvian Amazon;
- implement urgent measures to resolve conflicts over lands and forests and guarantee the protection of communities targeted for defending their rights and forests;
- recognise historic rights violations, implement the restitution of stolen Indigenous lands and reparations for the destruction of territories, water bodies, livelihoods, cultural heritage and sacred sites, with guarantees of non-repetition.
“Where will we live? We do not want to be forced to the city where we will only end up having to search for food among the rubbish tips.” Manuel Silvano Diaz, elder from Santa Clara de Uchunya, whose ancestral territory is being destroyed for palm oil.