Diana Ríos Rengifo, 21, gave a stirring speech to the human rights and environmental advocates who cheered her acceptance of the Alexander Soros Foundation’s Environmental Activism award on behalf of her community of Saweto and the four assassinated leaders: Edwin Chota, Leoncio Meléndez, Francisco Pinedo, and her father, Jorge Ríos. For her part, Diana presented Alexander Soros with a necklace from her Ashéninka people, and invited him to the community when he comes to South America in April. Diana also shared her resolve to continue fighting for title to her lands, and her continued worries for the safety of her people given she believes at least 10 other killers continue at large beyond the two men in jail who have formally been accused.
Prior to the ceremony, NGO Global Witness released a groundbreaking report, Peru’s Deadly Environment, that sheds light on the murders of environmental activists in Peru over the last decade. The findings call into question the commitment of Peru, which will host international climate talks in less than a month, to protect its forests – and those who have called them home for generations – from mining, logging, oil exploration and infrastructure development.
The event included the screening of a documentary about the life of last year’s award winner, Cambodian anti-logging activist Chut Wutty, who lost his life defending the Prey Lang forest community. The event also showed a 7 minute film by Handcrafted Films of Edwin Chota, Saweto, and the Ashenínka of the Tamaya River basin’s efforts to defend their forest from illegal loggers. UAC/ProPurús assisted Handcrafted in this second film, and ProPurús Coordiantor Jose Borgo Vasquez is interviewed about his work with the Ashenínka of the Tamaya River in their fight against illegal logging and for legal recognition of their homelands.
November 17 Press:
New York Times on Soros award to Saweto (Andrew Revkin)
teinteresa.es on Soros award to Saweto (Madrid, Spain)
El Comercio on Global Witness Report (Lima, Peru)