Indigenous leaders calling on China to abandon oil drilling in their territory

“We will not allow any damage to our forest, rivers, mountains, or biodiversity, which help regulate the global climate and are a source of life for our culture and spirituality.”

Indigenous leaders Manari and Gloria Ushigua from the Sápara nation of the Ecuadorian Amazon delivered a letter this morning addressed to the Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China before the United Nations in New York, in which they call on its state-run oil companies to abandon drilling plans on their rainforest territory.

Their action occurs on the same day that Ecuador faces scrutiny from the U.N. Human Rights Council during the body’s Universal Periodic Review of the country. The letter is available here (Spanish version here).

The Sápara are adamantly opposed to oil extraction in their territory, and they have long been a key voice for preventing previous drilling projects in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Andes Petroleum, a wholly owned subsidiary of Chinese National Petroleum Company (CNPC) and SINOPEC (China Petrochemical Corporation), holds two oil concessions to blocks that overlap entirely with Sápara titled territory and at the headwaters of their extensive lands, which extend to the Peruvian border.

The blocks are located along the southern border of Yasuni National Park, widely considered to be the most biodiverse place on the planet, and also overlap the nomadic territory of two indigenous groups living in voluntary isolation.

To date, Andes Petroleum and the Chinese government have failed to respond to several letters denouncing oil extraction plans in Sápara territory and deeper into Ecuador’s remote eastern rainforest.

“We were never consulted nor gave our consent for the drilling project slated for our territory by the Ecuadorian government. We have a right to say no, and we reject oil drilling in our territory. We will not allow any damage to our forest, rivers, mountains, or biodiversity, which help regulate the global climate and are a source of life for our culture and spirituality.” said Manari Ushigua, President of the Sápara Nation.