Ecuador Indigenous Group Sues President for Crimes Against Humanity

Anti-government protesters, including indigenous people, clash with police near the National Assembly in Quito, Ecuador, on Oct. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)

QUITO, Ecuador (AFP) — Ecuador’s largest indigenous organization filed a lawsuit Monday against President Lenin Moreno and other authorities for alleged crimes against humanity committed during protests last October which left 10 people dead.

The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (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 AFP.

“We have asked that there be no isolated or circumstantial investigations. We have asked that all the complaints be united that they be dealt with in a context of crimes against humanity,” Poveda said.

The government has yet to comment on the lawsuit.

A wave of protests, marked by violence, erupted in Ecuador in the first half of October 2019, after the government increased fuel prices.

The demonstrations led the government to declare a state of emergency, and at one point Moreno moved his government from the capital Quito to the port city of Guayaquil. He eventually backed down and reestablished fuel subsidies.

Poveda said the lawsuit was against Moreno, the minister of the interior, the defense minister, the police chief and the comptroller.

“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,” CONAIE president Jaime Vargas told reporters.

According to data provided by the ombudsman’s office, the protests left 10 people dead, 1,340 injured and 1,192 arrested. The demonstrations also caused an estimated $821 million in damage.

© Agence France-Presse

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