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Four indigenous leaders killed while fighting Amazon deforestation

They were killed by suspected members of an illegal logging ring.

FILE: Soil erosion caused by deforestation in the Amazon.
FILE: Soil erosion caused by deforestation in the Amazon.
Image: Press Association Images

FOUR INDIGENOUS LEADERS fighting deforestation in the Amazon rainforest were killed by suspected members of an illegal logging ring, a rights group said.

The four leaders of the Ashaninka people, a group from a remote area along the border between Brazil and Peru, “were murdered by presumed illegal loggers for defending their land,” said Peru’s main indigenous organization, AIDESEP.

Calls for investigation

Locals told police that the men — Edwin Chota Valera, Leoncio Quincima Melendez, Jorge Rios Perez and Francisco Pinedo — were killed in front of their communities on September 1.

One of the leaders, Edwin Chota Valera, had received death threats from illegal loggers, local media reported.

AIDESEP called on authorities to investigate the deaths.

Peru’s vice minister for intercultural affairs, Patricia Balbuena, told journalists the government had launched a probe and was considering creating a police station in the area, a northeastern region at the headwaters of the Tamaya River.

For decades, there has been no security presence there.

Indigenous communities in the Amazon have been beset by illegal logging rings that infiltrate their lands and exploit their valuable hardwoods, maintaining control through threats, violence and the lack of formal land titles.

- © AFP, 2014

Read: ‘Lost’ Amazon Indians make first contact with outside world>

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