ANI Photo | Indigenous Ecuadorian community files lawsuit after being displaced 80 years ago

More than 80 years after being displaced due to war, an indigenous community has won a court battle to regain ownership over its ancestral homeland in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
Amazon Frontline, a non-profit organisation working with indigenous people to defend their land rights, has said an Ecuadorian appeals court backed the Siekopai nation’s claim over Pe’keya, a biodiverse territory in northwest Ecuador along the border with Peru, CNN reported.
The Siekopai were displaced during the Peru-Ecuador war in the 1940s, which became the first of three military conflicts between Ecuador and Peru during the 20th century.
The small community of around 800 members filed a lawsuit last September against the Ecuadorian state, claiming it was violating their right to ancestral property, Amazon Frontline said.
In its ruling on Friday, the Provincial Court of Sucumbios gave Ecuador’s Ministry of Environment 45 days to deliver a property title to the Siekopai people for more than 104,000 acres of land, court documents show.
“This is a historic moment for the Siekopai Nation,” said Elias Piyahuaje, President of the Siekopai Nation of Ecuador. “The land of Pe’keya has always been and will always be ours. For over 80 years, we have been fighting to get our land back.”
The ruling “will mark the first time that the Ecuadorian government delivers a land title to an indigenous community whose ancestral territory is found in a protected area,” Amazon Frontline said, adding it “sets an invaluable precedent for all indigenous peoples fighting to recover their lands across Latin America and the world.”
Piyahuaje said, “We are fighting for the preservation of our culture on this planet. Without this territory, we cannot exist as Siekopai people.”
Rainforest Action Network (RAN), who works to protect forests, climate, and human rights posted on their X page, “Pe’keya, #Lagartococha, is the heartland of the Indigenous Siekopai Nation @NSiekopai. We’re joining @AFrontlines to support the Siekopai’s demand for #Ecuador’s government to return the land!”
The post was shared with an writing over an image that said, “RETURN STOLEN LAND TO THE SIEKOPAI #LANDBACK IN THE AMAZON”.

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