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Ecuador Indigenous Group Sues President for Crime Against Humanity

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The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), Ecuador’s largest Indigenous organization, has filed a lawsuit against President Lenin Moreno for crimes against humanity.

The alleged crimes took place during protests last October in which ten civilians died.

CONAIE asked the prosecutor’s office to investigate “crimes against humanity” because they believe the crackdown was “a systematic and widespread attack on the civilian population,” the group’s lawyer, Carlos Poveda, told the AFP news agency.

Poveda added that the lawsuit was not only against Moreno, but also the minister of interior, the defense minister, the police chief and the comptroller.

In October 2019, labor unions, women’s rights groups and students protested alongside indigenous groups in response to labor and tax changes introduced by Moreno. The president also withdrew longstanding fuel subsidies.

Protesters blocked streets in the capital, occupied government buildings, oil fields, ­water-treatment facilities, and hydroelectric plants. Clashes turned violent as the government unleashed its security forces.

Ten people were killed and more than 680 arrested in a dispute, which cost the country a reported $1 billion.

“Our fight is in defense of our territories,” he said, CONAIE President Jaime Vargas said at the time, adding that authorities “don’t respect the collective rights of the indigenous people.”

A year later, Vargas and CONAIE are not backing down.

“We had filed complaints, we had told the State that they should investigate the events of October 2019, but this irresponsible government and the Ecuadorian justice system have not been able to respond and give an explanation to the Ecuadorian people,” he told reporters.

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