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Addressing the murder of Saweto leaders at COP20

December 4, 2014

(AP Photo/Emory Richey)

Earlier in September this year, four Peruvian activists were murdered for defending their land and the environment. The murders of Edwin Chota and three other indigenous leaders from the Saweto community have put Peru under the scrutiny of the media, and some have accused Peru of greenwashing their national image as they host of the 20th Conference of Parties (COP20) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). While the Peruvian government chairs negotiations on addressing global climate challenges, it has neglected its own people who are defending their land against illegal logging operations.

As we watched the cultural performance and listened to the COP president’s speech about embracing the indigenous communities during the opening plenary session on Monday, it was hard to imagine or comprehend the government’s negligence towards its own people.

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) expresses its solidarity with the indigenous community in Peru and would like to offer them the space to express their views pertaining to this issue. In addition, ITUC states that besides addressing environmental issues at COP, there is also a need to address the violation of human rights such as in the murder of environmental activists.

Coming under the spotlight of media and being faced with an international audience at COP20, would this give the Peruvian government more urgency to look inward at its domestic crisis and address it by giving compensation to the indigenous community and criminal justice for the killing of the four leaders? We shall have to wait and see.

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