Mur­dered in Peru, mis­sion­ary who gave away his MBE

Daily Mail - - Life - By Izzy Fer­ris and Sami Quadri

‘He gave us ev­ery­thing’

THE burnt body of a Bri­tish en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivist and Catholic mis­sion­ary has been found at the youth hos­tel he set up in Peru.

Paul McAu­ley, 71, was found by stu­dents in the Ama­zon city of Iquitos.

Six res­i­dents of the hos­tel are be­ing ques­tioned by the state pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice.

One of the stu­dents un­der­stood to have found his body told the news out­let El Comer­cio that it had been a ‘painful scene’. He added: ‘We want to in­ves­ti­gate be­cause he, who has taken us for so many years and has given us ev­ery­thing, has been mur­dered.’

Mr McAu­ley, who was born in Portsmouth, had founded the hos­tel for in­dige­nous stu­dents in the poor neigh­bour­hood of Iquitos. He moved to Peru in 1995 and worked to en­cour­age lo­cal tribes to re­sist pow­er­ful oil and min­ing in­ter­ests.

He was made an MBE a short time after his ar­rival in the coun­try, for set­ting up a school in the cap­i­tal, Lima. He later said that he would have re­turned the hon­our to the Queen in protest at Bri­tish com­pa­nies’ pres­ence in the rain­for­est – but he had al­ready given the medal away.

The ac­tivist came to in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion in 2010 when the Peru­vian gov­ern­ment or­dered his ex­pul­sion. It tried, un­suc­cess­fully, to strip him of his res­i­dency for al­legedly in­cit­ing un­rest after he fought at­tempts to open up the Ama­zon to drilling. En­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivists were among those to pay tribute to Mr McAu­ley yes­ter­day, fol­low­ing the dis­cov­ery of his body on Tues­day.

Ju­lia Ur­runaga, of the En­vi­ron­men­tal In­ves­ti­ga­tion Agency, tweeted: ‘What tough news. A great man who did a lot for in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties, their rights and the forests. It has been a priv­i­lege to meet and work with Brother Paul.’

Mr McAu­ley was a lay Catholic brother with the De La Salle teach­ing or­der. In a state­ment the group said he had been burned to death. Brother Lau­rence Hughes, a fel­low mem­ber who was a close friend, said: ‘He was a won­der­ful guy – he en­cap­su­lated ev­ery­thing to do with be­ing a La Salle brother by the work he did in schools and on mis­sions. I’m in shock.’

In a state­ment, the or­der said: ‘Brother Paul worked among young peo­ple in Peru for many years in the tra­di­tion of our founder, St Jean Bap­tiste De La Salle. We are keep­ing him, his fam­ily and his many friends in Peru in our thoughts and prayers. May he rest in peace.’

In 2010 Mr McAu­ley told The Guardian he felt at home in the re­gion and that his Catholic faith had fused with el­e­ments of an Ama­zo­nian spir­i­tual be­lief based on the concept of en­ergy.

Ac­tivist: Paul McAu­ley

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