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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Right Livelihood laureates demand justice over slain Costa Rican activist

A total of 40 Laureates of the Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize”, from 29 countries demand that the Costa Rican government act on the murder of the indigenous Bribri leader and rights activist, Sergio Rojas.

Sergio Rojas
Sergio Rojas

They demand that the assassination “be investigated to its ultimate consequences” and “the restoration of native lands to the Bribri, Bröran and Bruncaj indigenous communities”, as well as “the remaining indigenous peoples of Costa Rica, be accelerated.”

Sergio Rojas was shot 15 times in Salitre, in southern Costa Rica, on March 18, 2019.

The recipients of the “Alternative Nobel Prize” collectively expressed their “pain and dismay” over the tragedy.

They stated: “The people of Costa Rica, the indigenous communities of America and humanity itself also took those 15 bullets. Yet violence has been and will continue to be a useless ploy to silence champions of liberty and justice like Sergio Rojas, because his ideas and struggles are more alive and vibrant today than ever before.”

The Right Livelihood Award Laureates added that, “prior to Sergio Rojas’ death, there was a long road of avoidable violence, perpetrated by the government and private sectors. This is a path that must never be traveled again”.

“The Right Livelihood Award recognises some of the most courageous and impactful changemakers in the world. A total of 40 Award recipients from 29 countries are now demanding that the Costa Rican government launch an in-depth investigation into the murder of Sergio Rojas, fully implement the country’s Indigenous Law, and better protect indigenous people’s rights. Our Laureates will not rest until these demands are met,” said Ole von Uexkull, Executive Director of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation, which is based in Sweden, where the Right Livelihood Award is presented annually.

“Both the absence of the National State in Salitre, and the state’s failure to comply with Precautionary Measure 321-12, which was ordered by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR ), allowed for the premeditated murder of Sergio Rojas to be finally carried out”, said Dr. Raúl Montenegro, who received the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’ in 2004, and who is professor at the National University of Córdoba in Argentina.

Requirements to the government

The 40 Laureates of the Right Livelihood Award stated: “It cannot be tolerated that violent people who flagrantly disrespect the law continue to act with impunity in Salitre: enough wounded, mutilated, and indigenous deaths in Costa Rica, and enough National State absence”.

The Laureates demand:

  • That the assassination of Sergio Rojas and the previous acts of violence be investigated to their ultimate consequences, and that those found guilty be convicted.
  • That Indigenous Law 6172 and its regulations, Precautionary Measure 321-12 of the IACHR and Convention 169 on Indigenous Rights of the International Labor Organization (ILO), be fulfilled.
  • That the State of Costa Rica order the security forces to effectively protect the persons, families, and properties of the Bribri, Bröran, and Bruncaj indigenous communities of the province of Puntarenas, and especially those who live on recently recovered lands, which now belong to them by virtue of Indigenous Law 6172. We suggest that the State agree and coordinate with the indigenous organizations to establish the modalities, mechanisms, and guarantees of that protection.
  • That the Justice system investigates the illicit ties between non-indigenous people, the action of armed bands, and the existence of zones deprived of public security, which empower armed groups to commit violence with total impunity.
  • That the total area of lands recognized by the Indigenous Law 6172 be restored to the Bribri, Bröran, and Bruncaj communities that inhabit the province of Puntarenas, and to all the remaining indigenous peoples of Costa Rica.
  • That the project of Law on the Autonomy of Indigenous Peoples be finally approved in Costa Rica after so many years of not having received parliamentary treatment.

According to the laureates, they will follow very closely which actions the authorities will take.

The signatories of the petition indicated that “to the extent of our possibilities, both we and the Córdoba and Valdivia Campus of the Right Livelihood College will support, at the request of the indigenous communities of Costa Rica, the international dissemination of their struggles and rights, and make visible any serious threat that endangers their lives and property”.

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