Pepe Luis Acacho, an indigenous Shuar leader, has been arrested just two days after he was chosen as leading candidate for the presidency of Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), Ecuador’s main indigenous organisation.
Acacho was arrested along with two other Shuar men, Fidel Kaniras and Pedro Mashiant. The three stand accused of ‘organised terrorism,’ according to local newspaper Diario de los Andes.
CONAIE has interviewed Acacho from his police cell in Quito, where he was transported by helicopter last week.
"I did not resist detention, but they (the police) pushed and manhandled me on entering their vehicle, informing me that I was under arrest", Acacho said.
Hundreds of protesters have taken to Ecuador’s streets calling for the immediate release of the three detainees.
According to CONAIE, the government is persecuting 189 Indian leaders on the grounds that they are saboteurs and terrorists. The claim follows a series of indigenous protests held in May last year against a water reform bill the Indians said would limit their access to water in favour of mining companies.
CONAIE has announced that it will request a meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon this week to inform him about ongoing hostilities between the government and indigenous peoples in Ecuador.