September 9, 2014

Indigenous Forest Campaigner Murdered

Illegal loggers are being blamed for the murder of four Asheninka people in the Peruvian Amazon, including a prominent anti-logging campaigner.

Edwin Chota was the leader of Alto Tamaya-Saweto, a community in the Ucayali region of Peru. Chota was fighting for his people’s right to gain titles to their land and expel illegal loggers. He’d featured in reports by the National Geographic and the New York Times about the continuous death threats that he and his community faced in trying to save their forest.

The killings are said to have happened on the 1 September but it took Chota’s widow six days travel by river to report the murders.

The Asheninka are a neighbouring tribe of Cool Earth’s Asháninka partners. The illegal logging trade in Peru has become a powerful mafia which the Peruvian authorities have done little to address. Rainforest communities are forced to defend their lands themselves with no military or police presence in such remote locations.

Our partners in the Ene Valley have formed a community watch to patrol their forest and whilst Cool Earth is supporting them with every resource they need, the brutality of these recent killings is a sombre reminder of what can face communities who are bravely defending their forest.

“There have been numerous skirmishes with narcos on the borders of our Asháninka Project and we’re investing in better radios and comms equipment for community watch teams and outlying villages. These violent killings are a reminder of just how contested the forest is and it’s the indigenous communities who are risking their lives to protect their families and their forest.” Matthew Owen, Cool Earth Director.


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