Today, as part of a historic lawsuit to protect their lands from oil drilling, dozens of Waorani women, carrying palm-woven baskets, clay pots, and food bundles from their garden, broke into harmonized – and unrelenting – song in an Amazonian courthouse, effectively blocking the proceedings in protest of unfair and discriminatory treatment by the judge.
As part of their legal strategy, the Waorani are demanding that the first court-hearing take place in their territory so that “the judge and the government can see firsthand how we live in our lands, and can hear from our elders about why we will not sell our lands to the oil companies.”
“What my grandparents did, we are doing now, not leaving footprints. You westerners must see what we are. We came to ask you to respect our culture. We came to ask you to come to our territory, if you respect us you will come. We do not want war as our ancestors did, we only want to be heard. We want peace, compassion and understanding.” – Excerpt of Waorani women’s song in the courthouse.
The Waorani’s lawsuit against the Ecuadorian Government alleges that their rights to free, prior and informed consultation and to self-determination were violated due to a manipulative consultation process prior to an oil auction. This auction would offer up the Waorani’s lands in the Pastaza region to the highest bidding oil company, putting their collective territory and the rights of nature in imminent risk.