Statement in support of the defenders of water from the hill Condorhuain (Áncash)

Friday 16 August 2013

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Authorship: Andean Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations (CAOI by its acronym in Spanish).

Editorial and Canal: Andean Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations (CAOI).

Type of document: Statement.

Language: Spanish.

Subject: Indigenous peoples.

Keywords: Previous consultations, human rights defenders, right to the water, indigenous people’s rights, transnational companies and indigenous movements.

Countries and Regions: Peru.

The Andean Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations (CAOI), an organization grouping Andean peoples from Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru, having its seat in our country, in defense of the full exercise of the rights of indigenous peoples we remind and we categorically refer to the present situation faced by inhabitants of the communities surrounding the hill Condorhuain, located in the Mountain Range of Huaylas, Ancash by saying the following:

1. The Company Barrick- Misquichilca, as it has been an usual practice within the extracting entrepreneurial sector, specifically the mining one, started an administrative procedure at the Ministry of Energy and Mines to undertake some exploratory works in the area known as Condorhuain, without previous, free and informed consultation, thus affecting the territorial rights of the neighboring inhabitants, the use and access to their right to water, affecting 81 water wells and also placing under risk the cultural heritage since in said hill there are cave paintings already acknowledged by the Ministry of Culture. These events worsen even more when the company Barrick- Misquichilca, using some forged documents, does not acknowledge these water resources and archeological remains and managed to obtain the approval from the Ministry of Energy and Mines for said exploratory work through Resolution Nº- 282-2006-MEM-AAM.

2. Under these circumstances, on April 11, 2007, the indigenous communities mobilized, peacefully, in defense of their hill Condorhuain, which they considered as a sacred place, and the objective of this mobilization was to check the situation of the water holes, since the mining company has already started the exploratory works in the area. On that day, there was a clash with a group of unconditional supporting the mining company, and this cause that the President of the Committee Regantes Cruz Pampa Picup was injured; the aggressors were identified and handed back to the authorities, and they paradoxically managed to criminally denounce 18 Quechua indigenous leaders who almost all were older than 60 year of age, claiming the denouncing elements were abducted.

3. Confronted with the situation engaging a violation of the rights of the indigenous peoples of the Abya Yala we reject this type of politics by the State who does not take into consideration the concerns and demands of the main individuals affected by said extracting activity; a policy which has tried to institutionalize itself as a modus operandi, only taking into consideration the expansion interests of the mining sector forming part of the transnational companies, quite often through the violation or non observance of the international law and the national law, or, by using juridical instruments to try to “make it legitimate” their actions thus facilitating operations on said sector.

4. Regarding the right to Previous Consultation for the case of the Project Barrick Misquichilca, we would like to remind the lack of consultation and we say that there have been several pronouncements by government institutions and by the civil society (People’s Defender and the National Human Rights Coordinator, just to name a few) stressing the obligatory nature for the State to implement, without restrictive interpretation, the Convention on Indigenous Peoples Nº 169 by the International Labor Organization, enacted since 1995. As well as the Jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court on Human Rights through its binding sentences whenever consulted any time legislative or administrative measures might want to be enacted that affect them and since the mining company Barrick- Misquichilca initiated its proceedings on the year 2005 the obligatory aspect of the fulfillment is cleary a reason of law.

5. Also given the fact that the Andean Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations is an organization in defense of the human rights of indigenous peoples we are pronouncing regarding the judicial situation of the seventeen indigenous leaders so that this case be solved through a fair trial, which pay respect to the due processing and to all guarantees established by the law. The selection of magistrates should guarantee that they are hones judges that will not yield to any type of pressure and also with knowledge on human rights, indigenous rights and the international law to reinitiate the oral hearing set by August 14 of this year.

6. On the other hand, through its Director of Corporation Affairs of Barrick Peru, Gonzalo Quijandría, we are requesting that the mining company Barrick- Misquichilca shows its interest and acknowledge its mistakes regarding the request for the approval of the survey work in the hill Condorhuain, given the fact that these events were the main reason for the present judicial situation as a result of the clashing generated between members of the community in the influence area..

7. Lastly the indigenous peoples forming part of the Andean Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations pronounce ourselves against the judicial prosecution and all other forms of criminalization of the indigenous movement from the Abya Yala and consider it to be a strategy to intimidate indigenous leaders and one running contrary to the freedom of speech and the right to protest that original peoples have had as the only strategy able to violate individual and collective rights..

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