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Ecuador to Investigate NGO for Supporting Amazon Anti-Mining Violence

teleSUR | December 22, 2016

Ecuador has warned that an environmental group, accused of supporting violent acts that left one police officer dead and another with life-threatening injuries amid Indigenous protests against a Chinese mining company in the Amazon, is being investigated and could have its legal status removed.

Accion Ecologica was notified Tuesday by the Ministry of Environment that administrative proceedings would be starting against the group which is accused of supporting “mobilizations that promote discord and confrontations with the police,” Ecuador’s Ministry of Interior said.

Accion Ecologica has been accused of supporting recent violent protests reportedly carried out by the section of the Shuar Indigenous group which attempted to occupy territory in the area where Chinese mining company Explorcobres, in charge of a copper mining project in Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest, is operating.

On Dec. 14, a group of people in the town of San Carlos de Tanantza, in the province of Morona Santiago, killed a police officer, injured five others, as well as two military members, during a protest against the mining project.

Security officials said that a group of 80 people, believed to be part of a Shuar community fired at police guarding the Explorcobres camp, after the group had already attempted on a number of occasions to enter the area. The government is holding six people in detention over the incidents, which also left another officer seriously injured.

Ecuador has rules governing NGOs that say that they should fulfill the mandate of the mission in their legal documents, and government officials say that Accion Ecologica has moved away from its original peaceful goals of environmental advocacy and that its support of recent violent protests could undermine the country’s security and peace.

Ecuador began registering and regulating NGO’s, given the history of interference from foreign governments using NGO’s to meddle in the country’s affairs.

The Ministry of Interior said that all environmental groups are free to “express their ideas,” but are not permitted to “make an apology for criminal actions or engage in political action apart from the function they registered in the defense of nature.”

In a statement, Accion Ecologica responded to the accusations by the Ministry of the Environment maintaining that “We have been scrupulous in our compliance with the law,” and that their lobbying complies with the country’s environmental management guidelines. In response, the group has taken to social media with the hashtag #SOSAccionEcologica, echoing the “SOS” taglines used by opposition groups to the region’s left-wing governments.

December 24, 2016 - Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism | , ,

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