To all friends, brothers and comrades of life and justice, we invite you to read this Demand to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, so that they will intervene in the reality of Ecuador and demand the repression, the death and the incarceration against the Indigenous People to cease.
5 of February 2001
Ambassador Jorge Enrique Taiana
Dear Ambassador Taiana:
The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (the "Conaie"), represented by Mr. Antonio Vargas and the Center of Economic and Social Rights (the "CDES"), represented by its General Coordinator, Paulina Garzón, under the legal sponsorship of doctor Patricio Pazmiño Freire, we respectfully present to the Commission of Human rights (the "Commission") the following petition against the Government of the Republic of Ecuador, in accordance with Articles 41 (f), 44 and 51 of the American Convention of Human rights (the "Convention") on behalf of the natives (men, women and children) that since January 22, 2001 came to participate in peaceful demonstrations in opposition to the economic measures decreed by the government of Doctor Gustavo Noboa Bejarano.
This demand shows serious violations committed by the Ecuadorian Government represented by Dr Gustavo Noboa Bejarano in his role of President of the Republic, the . Juan Manrique in his role of Minister of Government and Police and the Vice-Admiral Hugo Unda, Minister of Defense, when arranging actions and measures that violate sacred fundamental rights in the Political Constitution of the Republic, several international treaties ratified by Ecuador, as well as the International Pact of Civil and Political Rights, the American Convention of Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of Children, the Convention on the Elimination of all types of Discrimination Against Women and Agreement 169 of the International Organization of Work.
Ecuador faces a persistent social, economic and political crisis in the frame of a highly conflicting and unstable region. It is absolutely irresponsible that the government confronts the demands and peaceful protests of the population, closing all channels of negotiation. To replace dialogue with repression is an inadequate policy that the only thing that it can cause is greater violence, rupture of the constitutional guarantees and violation of the human rights, restoring in the country a spiral of useless confrontation.
In Ecuador, as fruit of its political fragility, corruption and economic crisis, in the last years have they have dismissed two Presidents of the Republic, without spilling a single drop of blood, at the present time, the violent and repressive measures ordered by the government of Dr Gustavo Noboa B., has shot many natives and nearly five thousand natives detained, that is to say, surrounded by elements of the National Police and the Army, in the patios of the Polytechnical University Salesiana.
In a quite suspicious way, coinciding with the arrival of the natives in the capital of the Republic, the Monday 1st of January of this year, have appeared graffiti on the walls of the city with phrases saying: "Be a patriot, kill an Indian", and in the Park of the Little Tree dead dogs have been thrown, the site of the initial concentration of the march, with placards that said "Do not play with fire, Manueles...you are going to die"
Different indigenous, student and workers organizations of Ecuador initiated peaceful protests and mobilizations from the first days of 2001 against the hard economic measures taken by the national government, implemented in fulfillment of the Letter of Intention subscribed with the International Monetary Fund. These protests began after a year of frustrated attempts to engage in a dialog with the government. On the 26th of January indigenous organizations (CONAIE, ECUARUNARI, FEINE, FENOCIN and AFILIADOS DEL SEGURO SOCIAL CAMPESINO) were summoned to a national indigenous mobilization and began peaceful marches of communities from different places from the country towards Quito, as well as other protests in different cities of the country.
The indigenous protests are the result of a whole history of discrimination, abandonment and massive poverty, especially suffered by the indigenous people. In recent years, Ecuador has lived through repeated social crises. At the present time the country has one of the highest rates of inequality in the distribution of wealth in the world. The indigenous population represents approximately 40% of the population, but it is in the poorest end of that population where inequality is found: it has 3% of the means of production and they live on an average of US$ 2 per day. The poverty in the country has risen to levels never before seen: it is thought that 70% of the population are under the poverty line, and among them, 20% are indigent. As it might be supposed, the conditions of the people and indigenous nationalities constitute the most alarming extremes of these numbers.
These people and nationalities are terribly limited in political participation and representation. Less than 3% of the members of the National Congress are indigenous, nor is there a single native in the Ministerial Cabinet. Many of the official positions and mass media do not have open doors to the dialogue nor a single active participant of this sector of the population. For them, one of the few resources to express their opinions, to be listened to and to participate in the political life of the country, is through the massive mobilization towards the capital.
For cultural reasons, the decisions that the indigenous communities take in cases that affect them in general terms, are taken in assemblies through traditional mechanisms by means of a decentralized and general procedure that has resulted in the acceptance and participation of all the members of the community. This means that the indigenous demonstrations are conformed to by most of their members, even old women and children to have a nonviolent character.
Approximately, between 8,000 and 10,000 natives have arrived at the city of Quito in the last five days, among whom were counted a great number of women and children, held to the chest (the number of infants is considered to be approximately 400). From Sunday 28th of January, the Polytechnical University Salesiana (UPS) has welcomed them and lodged them in its estates.
Relation of the facts
The government of Ecuador has decided to respond with violence and repression to these peaceful mobilizations, dispersing the natives in the highways with tear gas, shots, preventing them from traveling towards the Capital by transport forcing them to walk hundreds of kilometers, and confiscating the cars brought food from the provinces for the demonstrators.
When Sunday 28th of January arrived, a police wall - under direct orders of the president of Republic, Dr Gustavo Noboa, Government Minister, Juan Manrique, and the Minister of Defense, Vice-Admiral Mario Unda, prevented these people from being reunited and from camping in the Little Tree Park in the neighborhood of the House of Culture, this being a park for public use.
By disposition of the National Government, from the first hours of 29th of January 2001, it was not allowed for the demonstrators within the UPS to receive humanitarian aid from the citizens of Quito and international organizations providing medicine, clothes, foods, disposable diapers and potable water. In addition, the services for light, potable water and telephone were cut in the whole of the UPS.
In parallel, a massive discrimination against the natives (men, women and children) has been exerted and they have been prevented to walk in the streets bordering the Polytechnical University Salesiana (UPS) solely because they are indigenous and wearing clothes that characterizes them as such, whether they are or are not part of the mobilization. An alarming fact that cannot be stopped from being denounced, because of the profound implications of discrimination and racism, is the action of the police in the province of Imbabura, who started to stop chauffeurs and to confiscate the vehicles of transport cooperatives, exclusively for the "crime" of having a native name as it happened to the car of transport no. 2 of the Cooperative "Imbaburapac".
During all these days the University has remained besieged, the basic services have partially recovered thanks to the pressure of public opinion and it has prevented, in many cases violently and arbitrarily, (as the national press reports and some organizations of human rights and ONG´s have denounced it) the access of cars, trucks and people with donations of essential supplies like water, medicines, disposable diapers, foods and food supplies. The use of tear gas has been constant and indiscriminate, causing asphyxia specially in women, children, and the old, and leaving several wounded.
This situation is becoming progressively aggravated, if one considers that in the night of Friday 2nd of January the national government has dictated Executive Decree no. 1214, and by the authority of the Ministers of Defense, Hugo Unda, and of Government, Juan Manrique, who proceeded to execute it immediately. The State of Emergency is declared in all the national territory, like the Mobilization of the FF.AA. and the National Police, authorizing the Public Force to make the requisitions that have been determined in Articles 54 and 55 of the National Security Law, at the same time citizen rights are suspended in numbers 12, 14 and 19 of Article 23 of the Constitution, that is to say the rights of: mobilization, free circulation, free association and the inviolabilidad of the home.
These facts allow us to anticipate that if the government exerted acts of violence, at moments that the Constitution was in full force, it may be presumed that at the end of the day the violent action, the repression and the violation of the fundamental rights can be more direct and could affect and place in imminent risk the security and the life of the natives, mainly those most vulnerable like the old, the children, and the women who are surrounded in the UPS.
Violations of rights
The actions of the national government have violated the following fundamental rights guaranteed in the Political Constitution of the Republic and treaties of human rights:
The right to freedom of opinion and expression, the right to free movement, the right to have meetings and the right to peaceful association and the right to equality:
The government has violated fundamental rights that are consubstantial for the life of a democracy by taking repressive measures to prevent the exercise of rights of liberty of expression and association. The natives in a peaceful way, without arms, in the public light, accompanied by groups of singers and dancers, walking, showed their rejection of the government's economic measures, and, in these circumstances, they have suffered a degree of political and military repression that is excessive and unusual in the recent political history of the country. The impact and the citizen commotion that caused these governmental actions deserved the immediate reaction of the H. National Congress, that dated 31st of January 2001, by means of legislative agreement, rejected the violence and governmental repression.
The right to special protections for children and women, the right to health, the right to personal integrity.
When not providing foods and cutting the basic services, as well as when preventing receiving humanitarian aid, it put in risk the life and wholeness of children, women and the old, who now face serious physical and psychological consequences, violating minimum norms of international humanitarian rights. The government has a special obligation towards the children, adolescents and women. The Constitution, in harmony with international instruments, grants status to vulnerable groups, and the government is obligated to take care of and to grant the favor of its protection in situations of disaster and armed conflicts. Nevertheless, the public force constantly takes actions of intimidation and psychological pressure against the natives, through the mobilization of hundreds of operants with anti-riot cars and light tanks.
The right to not being stopped arbitrarily, and the right to due process.
The government of Ecuador, when arranging to prevent the free circulation of the demonstrators outside the perimeter of the UPS, jailed in fact near to 5000 natives during the 29th and 30th of January 2001, violating norms of due process and personal freedom.
The right to equality without discrimination for ethnic or cultural reasons.
When arranging that all native (nonparticipants of the mobilization) must abandon their means of transport, it prevented circulation in the city, and confiscated units of transport due to the fact of having indigenous names, the government of Ecuador adopted racist measures that harm the right of equality of all Ecuadorians.
In the words of the Dr Julio Prado Vallejo, illustrative member of the Inter-American Commission of Human rights, before the serious situation "a fervent call to the Government to stop the repression that the Police indiscriminately is carrying out to prevent legitimate manifestations of indigenous communities who protest the economic measures" (the Express of Guayaquil, Thursday, 1st of February 2001, p. 2, first edition).
By the character of Social State of Right of Ecuador, and by subscribtion and to having ratified the International agreements, Pacts and Declarations in the matter of human rights, it is under the jurisdiction of the Commission and therefore is subject to the scrutiny and investigation of the disposition, admissibility and reasonableness of the means adopted by the National Government in relation to the facts related here, the same as they carry responsibilities at national and international level and delegitimize the adopted actions.
Not settling down such responsibilities, the immediate and medium consequences for our country will mean the perpetuation of a political model based on repression, segregation and racial exclusion for reasons of poverty, and it will be forced to prevent human rights justice.
The Republic of Ecuador ratified the American Convention on December 28,1977 and the Protocol of San Salvador on March 25, 1993. Consequently, the petitioners respectfully request that the Commission:
Initiate the procedure in this case according to the procedure enunciated in Articles 46 and 51 of the Convention and 19 of the Statutes of the Commission.
Exhaust all the procedures established by the Commission in order to clarify and to prove the facts and violations alleged by this request.
To consider that the stated facts demand of the Commission the urgent adoption of exceptional measures of protection to guarantee the integrity and to avoid irreparable damages that the thousands of natives who are in the UPS could undergo, before the certain threats of an imminent evacuation on the part of the public force, under the discretionary judgement under the Decree of Emergency; basing our request on articles 41, letter b) of the Convention and 18, letter b) of the Statute of the Commission, and, under the protection established in article 29, numeral 2 of the Regulation of the Inter-American Commission of Human rights, we request that immediately the Commission interposes urgent precautionary measures against the Ecuadorian Government to prevent them from carrying out violent actions of force and the evacuation of the natives who are in the interior of the UPS and in this way to assure the due respect of human rights.
Declare that the government of Ecuador has violated Articles 19 and 25 (2) of the American Declaration; Article 9 (1), (2), Article 12, Article 19 and Article 24 of the Pact of Civil and Political Rights; Article 13 (1) and 15 of the American Convention of Human Rights; Article 1, Article 2 (c) and Article 4 (b), (h) of the Inter-American Convention on Violence Against Women; Artice 3, Article 19 (1) and Article 24 (1) of the Convention on the Rights of Children; Article 3 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination; Article 10 (1), (2-f) of the Protocol of San Salvador; Article 23 (2), (3), (7), (9), (14), (19), Article 24 (4 and 6), Article 42, Article 47, and Article 48 of the Political Constitution of Ecuador; exhorting them to repair and compensate for the damages committed against the natives who have suffered harm and injuries as a result of the police and military repression and, sends the proceedings to the Inter-American Court of Human rights.
By virtue of the nature, content and reach of Executive Decree no. 1214 with which the State of National Emergency is declared, limiting and restricting the civil liberties and guarantees, for the petitioners, and, in a particular way for the natives who are surrounded in the UPS, it becomes impossible to attend before the national events to obtain an pronouncement on the tenor of this request and, particularly, in order to assure the precautionary measures for urgent protection of rights, principally before the imminent facts of force that can cause serious damage to the fundamental rights of the natives.
In the next few days we will send the documents of proof (videos, photos, testimonies etc..) that will support and demonstrate the assertions of this request.
The petitioners respectfully request that all future communications on this case are sent to telefax: (5932)560449, Quito, Ecuador.
Mr. Antonio Vargas
Mrs. Paulina Garzón
Dr. Patricio Pazmiño Freire