Olivia Arevalo Lomas, an 89-year-old leader of the Shipibo Konibo Indigenous group in the Peruvian Amazon, was assassinated on Thursday afternoon. Witnesses said they saw a man approach Arevalo Lomas' house and shoot her several times in the chest before fleeing on a motorcycle.
The murder ocurred in the intercultural community of Victoria Gracia, 20 minutes from the town of Yarinacocha in Coronel Portillo province, Ucayali.
The Federation of Native Communities of Ucayalo and Tributaries (Feconau) released a statement on Facebook condemning the killing: "We call on national and international opinion for the Peruvian state to provide guarantees for the lives of other indigenous leaders of the Shipibo Konibo people who today face death threats and harassment," the statement said.
Peru's Ministry of Culture described Arevalo Lomas as a wise woman who retained "traditional knowledge of the Shipibo-Konibo people," expressing condolensces and solidarity with her relatives and the Victoria Gracia community.
The Ombudsman's Office also condemned the assassination: "We are immediately following up with the police and the prosecutor's office in order to conduct a thorough investigation. We ask the authorities for protection for the affected family."
Arevalo Lomas was a staunch defender of Indigenous people's rights in the region. She also served as an ikaro ('singer'), a traditional form of singing-medicine that removes negative energies from the individual and collective.
Their songs, known as Onyanya ('plant songs'), are taught to healers through a specific dietary regime lasting roughly four years. It's intended to immerse the singer in the healing powers of plants and help them inherit the songs.