Friends of the Earth International denounces the killing of six peasant farmers in the Peruvian Amazon on 1 September.
The victims, Jorge Calderón Campos (33), Elías Gamonal Mozimbite (31), Feliciano Córdova Abad (71), Edil Córdova López (41), Alcides Córdova López y Orlando Burillo Mendoza (53), were all members of the Asociación Agrícola Bello Paraíso in the Ucayali region of Peru.
The murders fit a global pattern of violence committed with impunity against environment, land and community defenders. This violence must end.
All the evidence suggests the massacre could be part of a violent campaign to evict local farmers and indigenous communities from their ancestral territories against their will, to make way for palm oil plantations.
This massacre is the latest act of violence in the Ucayali region of Peru; a region known for ‘land trafficking’: a racket whereby criminal gangs allegedly use violence to take control of forested lands, obtain land titles from regional authorities and then sell the land to agribusiness companies for plantations. This recent massacre occurred almost three years to the day after the killing of human rights activist Edwin Chota and several indigenous Ashininka forest defenders; a crime that has yet to be properly investigated.
We urge Peruvian authorities to act immediately:
- The Ministry of Interior and the Police must intervene and protect indigenous leaders, including special security arrangements for the women leaders who are defending their ancestral territory.
- The Police’s Criminal Investigation and Justice Support (DIRINCRI) must investigate and bring the intellectual authors as well as the assassins to justice.
- The Public Ministry must speed up investigations into cases of land trafficking, including an investigation of oil palm and hardwood companies that could be benefitting from the practice.
- The Judicial Branch must accelerate criminal cases against land traffickers and should issue sentences according to the constitutional processes to defend indigenous communities.
- Peruvian authorities must stop issuing land ownership documentation without transparent and legal processes; must advance the delivery of titles for the ancestral territories of communities under the rules of international conventions; refrain from giving rights to third parties on indigenous communities’ ancestral territories.
- The Ministry of Agriculture must actively prosecute any agribusiness companies found to encourage or benefit from land trafficking and violence.
- The People’s Defender Office (Ombudsman) must do its part to prompt rapid government action.
Peruvian authorities must end accusations that environmental organizations and frontline environmental defenders are in any way instigating the violence.
Attacks on environmental defenders threaten environmental, social and gender justice, as well as the collective human rights of peoples everywhere.