Indigenous federations in Peru raise global concerns over fate of isolated peoples

Indigenous federations in Peru raise global concerns over fate of isolated peoples

Tuesday June 16, 2020

Groups submit petition to Peruvian Congress to approve modification to historic law

 

LIMA, PERU — Indigenous federations in Peru are calling on the country’s members of Congress to seize a critical opportunity to safeguard the future of uncontacted and isolated indigenous peoples in the Peruvian Amazon. Members of the international Amazon Sacred Headwaters Initiative including Amazon Watch and Stand.earth have signaled their global support for the law.

The Inter-Ethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest (AIDESEP) and its Regional Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon (ORPIO), which have been pursuing the protection of uncontacted peoples for 15 years, sent a formal petition urging the Peruvian Congress to approve modification to Law 28736, which guarantees the Protection of Indigenous Peoples in Voluntary Isolation and Initial Contact (PIACI in Spanish). The oil industry and other extractive industries are already mounting opposition efforts to stop the passage of this law.

Peru’s Commission of Andean, Amazonian and Afro-Peruvian Peoples, Environment and Ecology (CPAAAAE) approved the modification of Law 28736 on May 26, opening a historic opportunity for the Peruvian Congress to take action. The proposed modification of the law would be historic in guaranteeing rights and protections for uncontacted peoples and closing loopholes that have been in place for 15 years.

“The amendment to Peru’s law guaranteeing the rights of uncontacted Indigenous peoples in the country will guarantee the safety of at least 7,000 lives, as well as the protection of these Indigenous peoples’ collective rights, their respect for self-determination and, above all, the intangibility of their territories,” according to the petition to Congress made by ORPIO and AIDESEP.

The text of Law 28736 that was first approved 15 years ago eliminated various aspects of the law, which has impeded adequate implementation of this legal framework. Of the 10 applications for PIACI Reserves submitted more than 12 years ago, only 5 of them have been approved, leaving the rest of the groups defenseless. Multiple concessions to extractive industries have threatened the lives of these uncontacted peoples.

COVID-19 IMPACT IN PERU

Nearly 20 groups of indigenous peoples in the Peruvian Amazon live in a condition of voluntary, total or partial isolation. These groups are some of the most culturally rare and vulnerable populations on the planet, yet they are continually threatened both by the loss of their traditional territories from ever-expanding resource extraction, as well as increased health risks since they have not developed antibodies to diseases common in Western societies. 

Peru is among the top ten countries severely hit by COVID-19, with over 200,000 cases. This current health crisis magnifies the risks that these uncontacted groups face, as historically, contact with outside groups has led to the extinction of several groups of Indigenous peoples.

ABOUT AMAZON SACRED HEADWATERS INITIATIVE

As part of the Amazon Sacred Headwaters Initiative, allied organizations — including Amazon Watch, Stand.earth, Pachamama Alliance, and Fundacion Pachamama — and indigenous federations in Ecuador and Peru — including AIDESEP, COICA, CONFENIAE, ORPIO, and GTANW — are working to draw global attention and support to halt industrial extractivism and protect the Amazon Sacred Headwaters region within the Peruvian and Ecuadorian Amazon. 

In a declaration calling for alternative forms of development rooted in ecological stewardship, indigenous leaders from the region have proclaimed their ancestral territories are under immediate threat from oil drilling, mining, and other industrial scale projects and urged governments and investors to act now to halt approvals and financing of new projects. 

In December 2019 at COP 25 in Madrid, the Amazon Sacred Headwaters Initiative coordinated an international press conference with Indigenous leaders from the Amazon and released an in-depth report that captured global media attention and spotlights the threats facing this ecological and cultural gem. The report highlights how California, China, and other countries are complicit in its destruction. 

Learn more at sacredheadwaters.org (English) or cuencasagradas.org (Spanish).

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Media contact: Alicia Guzman, Stand.earth, +51997934716 (WhatsApp), alicia@stand.earth (Interviews available in Spanish and English)