May 28, 2010
Action Alert: Indigenous Leader and Activists Arrested (original title)
In my gmail from Amazon Watch;
Yesterday saw Amazon Watch staff members and partners arrested on two different continents for standing up for human rights and the environment. In Houston, Amazon Watch campaign staff were barred from entering Chevron’s shareholders meeting and subsequently arrested, while supporting communities in Ecuador’s Amazon poisoned by the oil giant. In Peru, Amazon Watch staff and allies helped escort Peruvian Indigenous leader Alberto Pizango as he traveled home from exile in Nicaragua. Upon arrival in Peru, he was arrested but supporters have vowed to continue pressing the Peruvian government to drop all unsubstantiated charges and release him.
Peruvian indigenous leader Alberto Pizango needs your help. After spending nearly a year in exile, he returned to Lima yesterday to defend Peru’s indigenous peoples from continued attacks by the Peruvian government. Despite the presence of an international delegation, government officials arrested Pizango immediately upon his arrival in Lima.
“I am here for only one cause – to defend the life and the sovereignty of indigenous peoples. I am not just one person; I represent all our indigenous peoples. The government must respect my right to continue fighting for our rights as indigenous peoples.” – Alberto Pizango
Pizango was forced into exile as a result of the Peruvian government’s efforts to shift blame for fatalities that resulted during a violent army raid on peaceful indigenous protestors outside the Amazon town of Bagua on June 5, 2009. Human rights experts agree that the charges against Pizango are unsubstantiated and should have long since been dismissed.
“Pizango’s courageous return to Peru marks an important opportunity for the Peruvian government to begin repairing its relations with indigenous peoples,” said actress and indigenous rights activist Q’orianka Kilcher, who accompanied Pizango on his return to Lima and witnessed his unjust arrest. “Releasing Alberto Pizango and dismissing the trumped up charges against him is a crucial first step,” she concluded.
Pizango returns as the Peruvian government continues to auction off the Amazon, much of which is indigenous territories. In recent weeks the Peruvian oil and gas leasing agency offered some 24 new concessions, most of them in the Amazon. Pizango’s organization AIDESEP has demanded that those concessions be suspended until proper consultation can be carried out with affected communities.
For more information, see
this Amazon Watch press release issued yesterday.
Yesterday, Chevron’s annual shareholders meeting erupted into outrage and arrests, as the company barred more than twenty concerned community leaders from attending the meeting, despite the fact that they came as legal proxies for Chevron shareholders large and small. Chevron management systematically denied entry to community members negatively affected by Chevron’s operations in Ecuador, Nigeria, Burma, the Philippines, Canada and several other nations around the world, effectively silencing their voices.
Five people were arrested, including Amazon Watch campaigners Mitch Anderson and Han Shan alongside environmental justice leaders Juan Parras of Houston and Rev. Ken Davis from Richmond, California. After being barred from the meeting, the four staged a sit-in outside, before being taken into custody at the direction of Chevron security. The fifth person – Antonia Juhasz, coordinator of the ‘True Cost of Chevron’ coalition – was arrested while inside the shareholder meeting. Amazon Watch’s Mitch & Han, and the other two men were released after posting bail, but Antonia remains in jail at the time of this writing.
In an unprecedented move which shocked many shareholders, Chevron barred 20 out of 27 community members who arrived at the meeting as valid and legal proxy shareholders, according to existing corporate governance rules.
Chevron did not manage to silence everyone, as Mariana Jimenez, a 71-year-old grandmother from Ecuador, managed to enter and spoke directly to Chevron’s CEO John Watson and the Board of Directors, demanding an end to Chevron’s lies about the massive oil contamination in Ecuador that has ravaged her community in the Amazon rainforest.
Despite its duty to shareholders, as well as the communities in which the company operates, Chevron’s Board of Directors has been asleep at the wheel, while the company’s management tries to silence affected people around the world, and conceal the truth about its responsibility for a massive human and environmental tragedy in Ecuador. We need your help to amplify the voices of those the company has tried repeatedly to silence.
For more information, visit
the ChevronToxico campaign website.