Source: The Guardian Unlimited
The body of an indigenous leader who was opposed to a major mining project in Ecuador has been found bound and buried, days before he planned to take his campaign to climate talks in Lima.
The killing highlights the violence and harassment facing environmental activists in Ecuador, following the confiscation earlier this week of a bus carrying climate campaigners who planned to denounce president Rafael Correa at the United Nations conference.
The victim, José Isidro Tendetza Antún, a former vice-president of the Shuar Federation of Zamora, had been missing since 28 November, when he was last seen on his way to a meeting of protesters against the Mirador copper and gold mine. After a tip-off on Tuesday, his son Jorge unearthed the body from a grave marked “no name”. The arms and legs were trussed by a blue rope.
Other members of the community said Tendetza had been offered bribes and had his crops burned in an attempt to remove him from the area.
Domingo Ankuash, a Shuar leader, said there were signs Tendetza had been tortured, but the full facts had yet to come to light. He said the family were extremely unhappy with the investigation and what they said was the reluctance of the authorities to conduct a timely autopsy.
“His body was beaten, bones were broken,” said Ankuash. “He had been tortured and he was thrown in the river. The mere fact that they buried him before telling us, the family, is suspicious.”
Tendetza had been a prominent critic of Mirador, an open-cast pit that has been approved in an area of important biodiversity that is also home to the Shuar, Ecuador’s second-biggest indigenous group.
The project is operated by Ecuacorriente – originally a Canadian-owned firm that was brought by a Chinese conglomerate, CCRC-Tongguan Investment, in 2010. According to the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, the project will devastate around 450,000 acres of forest.