On Aug. 12, a court in Ecuador’s Amazonian city of Macas convicted indigenous leader Pedro Mashiant and lawmaker Pepe Acacho with the Pachakutik party on charges of “terrorism” and “sabotage” for their roles in a protest demonstration in 2009. They were each sentenced to 12 years, and each ordered to pay a fine of $4,000. The two pledged to appeal. “I believe I am innocent, and I believe I am being persecuted, but I will never go into hiding,” said Acacho. “I will never flee, nor will I seek political asylum. The innocent do not run, it is the guilty who who flee from justice.” Acacho added that he would take the case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights if necessary. The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) issued a statement in support of the two men. (TeleAmazonas, Aug. 13; El Comercio, Quito, Aug. 12)
Indigenous leaders in Ecuador charge a growing pattern of criminalization and persecution under President Rafael Correa.
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