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Judge stops circulation of book about deaths of indigenous people in Ecuador

UPDATE from Fundamedios: Judge overturns decision that banned circulation of book (30 September 2013)

On the afternoon of September 25, 2013, Judge Hilda Garcés from the Judicial Unit On Violence Against Women and Family at the Provincial Justice Court of Pichincha, issued a warrant to stop the circulation of the book “A Hidden Tragedy” (“Una Tragedia Oculta”) that addresses the issue of the unsolved killings between uncontacted indigenous peoples, the Taromenane and Waorani, that took place in March 2013.

The book was written by Capuchin priest Miguel Angel Cabodevilla, Milagros Aguirre and Italian researcher Massimo de Marchi. The injunction was granted after Wilton Guaranda Mendoza, National Director of the Human Rights Protection Unit of the Ombudsman's Office, requested an interim measure to protect the rights to personal integrity, healthy development, physical, moral and sexual integrity, and on several articles of the Child and Adolescent Code.

The injunction reads as follows: “Due to the imminent risk to the rights of the little girl whose picture is on a pamphlet for the book, and of other children that may appear inside the book, we kindly request an injunction to prohibit the circulation and dissemination by any means of the book “A Hidden Tragedy”, as established under Article 33 of the Organic Law of Judicial Guarantees and Constitutional Control. The measure was executed just as the book launch presentation was to take place.

Days before, Cabodevilla was summoned by the Prosecutor's Office to give a deposition and deliver “all the information he may have on the killings, including audio, video and any other footage”. According to Diario El Comercio, the killings go back to March 2005, when elderly people from the Waorani community were speared, presumably by members of the Taromenane, an uncontacted indigenous community that resides in the area of Yarentaro, within Yasuní National Park.

Last month, President Correa announced his decision to start oil exploitation procedures in Blocks 43 and 31, within Yasuní National Park. The decision has been seriously questioned by environmental and human rights activists that fear for the well-being of the indigenous communities in the area. In spite of the prohibition, the book is now circulating on the Internet and shared in several social networks.

In response to criticism over the decision to ban circulation of the book, on 27 September the government condemned the censorship and the Ombudsman's Office clarified that although there was a picture of a girl on promotional materials for the book, it does not reveal her identity.

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