Peru: Land at last for families of murdered Ashéninka Indians

September 1, 2015

Ashéninka leader Edwin Chota was murdered on 1 September 2014 by suspected illegal loggers. © Scott Wallace

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Ashéninka Indians in Peru have obtained title of their ancestral land on the anniversary of the murders of four of their most prominent leaders.

Edwin Chota, Jorge Ríos Pérez, Leoncio Quinticima Melendez and Francisco Pinedo were murdered by illegal loggers near their home in the eastern Peruvian Amazon on 1 September 2014.

Three men have been charged for the murders of the Indigenous leaders, but a further three suspects have not yet been arrested.

The Ashéninka have been fighting for their right to their ancestral land for more than ten years. Community members have received numerous death threats from loggers who have invaded their land.

The widows of the deceased have been hailed for their determination in bringing the killers to justice, and securing the land for their community.

Diana Rios, a spokesperson for the Ashéninka, told press, “They thought they could treat us badly forever. But we are human beings. We don’t want more bloodshed… We ask the State to support us and to support other communities too. It’s not just Saweto (the Ashéninka community) – there are other communities that don’t have title.”

Although Peru has ratified the international law that guarantees Indigenous peoples’ land ownership rights, more than 1500 Indigenous communities in Peru still do not have legal title to their land.