MAC/20: Mines and Communities

URGENT ACTION APPEAL - From Amnesty International USA

Published by MAC on 2007-07-25

URGENT ACTION APPEAL - From Amnesty International USA

25th July 2007

UA 193/07 - Fear for safety

Re: Jaime Polivio Perez Lucero (m), community leader in Garcia Moreno parish
Mercy Catalina Torres Teran (f)
Others opposed to the Intag copper mining project

According to reports, community leader Jaime Polivio Perez Lucero has been threatened and activist Mercy Catalina Torres Teran has been attacked, as a result of their opposition to a mining project close to their homes in the Intag area of Imbabura province, northern Ecuador. Their lives, and those of others who voice opposition to the mine, are in danger.

Jaime Polivio Perez Lucero, from Garcia Moreno parish in Imbabura, a group of villages close to a site where the authorities and a mining company are planning to excavate for copper, has received a series of death threats in recent months. In December 2006, while he was taking part in a protest against the mining project, Jaime Polivio Perez Lucero was reportedly approached by an armed civilian. The armed man told Jaime Polivio Perez: ''Si te sigues oponiendo a la minera vamos a tener que matarte'' (if you continue to oppose the mining company we will have to kill you). According to reports, the armed civilians and security guards used tear gas and shot at the demonstrators, injuring several people. Among those injured was Jaime Polivio Perez's brother, Israel Perez, who was shot.

Following the incident, Jaime Polivio Perez reportedly received several anonymous calls on his mobile phone, in which the caller said, ''Si no abandonas la dirigencia te vamos a matar. Deja de subir a Barcelona porque de caso contrario tendras tu merecido'' (If you do not quit the leadership [of a community organization in Garcia Moreno] we are going to kill you. Stop going to Barcelona [one of the communities of the Garcia Moreno parish] or you will get what you deserve"). On 23 June 2007, according to reports, another member of the community received an anonymous email referring to a plan to kill Jaime Polivio Perez.

On 9 July, activist Mercy Catalina Torres was outside her home in Garcia Moreno when she was reportedly beaten by a man wearing a balaclava. She was cut and bruised in the attack. Mercy Catalina Torres had allegedly been threatened in her home two months before the attack, when a man apparently shouted at her: ''Porque ya vino el carro, te salvaste perra'' (''Because someone just arrived in a car, you saved yourself, bitch'').

Jaime Polivio Perez and Mercy Catalina Torres reported the incidents to the local Attorney's Office. However, to date, Amnesty International is not aware of any investigation being opened into the threats or the attack, and no protection has been granted to them.

Both Jaime Polivio Perez and Mercy Catalina Torres have been very active and outspoken in their campaigning against the planned copper mine. They believe that the communities which will be affected by the mining project have not been consulted in a meaningful, open and transparent way by the authorities. Members of these communities are concerned about the environmental impact it might have on the area, a nature reserve where most inhabitants depend on agriculture.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

During a visit to Ecuador in November 2006, Amnesty International visited Imbabura and met with some members of the communities affected by the mining project in Intag. The delegation received testimonies and reports of acts of intimidation, harassment and attacks against those who campaign against the mining project. Amnesty International wrote to the authorities asking for investigations to be opened into these incidents. However, to date, the organization is not aware of any investigations into these events.

RECOMMENDED ACTION

Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible:

- expressing concern for the safety of Jaime Polivio Perez Lucero, Mercy Catalina Torres Teran, and other inhabitants of the Intag area, Imbabura, who are opposed to the copper mining project;

- expressing concern that Jaime Polivio Perez Lucero has been repeatedly threatened with death since December 2006, and that Mercy Catalina Torres Teran was beaten in July 2007;

- stating that these acts of intimidation appear to be linked to their campaigning actions to defend the rights of the communities in Intag to a meaningful, open and transparent consultation prior to the development of any mining project in the area;

- urging the authorities to take steps to guarantee the safety of Jaime Polivio Perez Lucero and Mercy Catalina Torres Teran, in accordance with their own wishes;

- urging the authorities to carry out an independent and impartial investigation into the death threat received by Jaime Polivio Perez Lucero and the attack against Mercy Catalina Torres Teran, making the results public and bringing those responsible to justice;

- asking to be informed of the results of these investigation.

APPEALS TO:

Minister of the Interior:

Dr. Gustavo Larrea

Ministro de Gobierno, Policia Justicia, Cultos y Municipalidades

Ministerio de Gobierno y Policia

Espejo y Benalcazar, Quito- Ecuador

Fax: 011 593 229 55666 ext. 155 or

011 593 229 55666 ext. 150 – 151 (ask for fax tone)

Salutation: Dear Minister/Senor Ministro

Attorney General:

Dr. Jorge German

Ministro Fiscal General del Estado

Fiscalia General del Estado

Av. Eloy Alfaro Nº 32-240 y Republica

Quito, Ecuador

Fax: 011 593 22558561 (please keep trying)

COPIES TO:

Human Rights Non-governmental Organization:

Comision Ecumenica de Derechos Humanos - CEDHU

Carlos Ibarra 176 y 10 de Agosto

Edif. Yuraj Pirca, 9no. Piso, Quito, Ecuador

Fax: 011 593 2 258 9272

E-mail: denuncias@cedhu.org

Ambassador Luis Benigno Gallegos Chiriboga

Embassy of Ecuador

2535 15th St. NW

Washington DC 20009

Fax: 1 202 667 3482

Email: embassy@ecuador.org

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