Peru: Indigenous protestors at risk
Posted: 10 June 2009
Nelida Calvo Nantip, representative of the Peruvian Amazon departament Regional Organization ORPIAN, cries after receiving a phone call informing her of the death of her brother in clashes with the police, during a press conference of Indigenous leaders in Lima on June 5, 2009.
JAIME RAZURI/AFP/Getty Images
Amnesty International is gravely concerned about the safety of Indigenous protestors in the wake of serious human rights violations committed during a violent police action on June 5 in Bagua, Amazonas Department.
Members of Indigenous communities began demonstrations in mid-April to protest a series of legislative decrees over the use of land and natural resources in the Amazonian jungle. Indigenous communities were not consulted on this legislation, despite the fact that Peru has ratified the International Labour Organization Convention 169, which obliges them to consult with Indigenous Peoples on any decisions or legislation which affect their interest. As a result of the protests, on 9 May the government declared a 60-day state of emergency in the area.
On 5 June, after 50 days of protests, the National Police forcibly removed Indigenous protestors who had blocked the approach road to Bagua. At least nine Indigenous people have been confirmed dead, although the real number is feared to be much higher, and 24 police officers were killed. As well, at least 169 Indigenous demonstrators and 31 police officers were injured.
According to local sources, some of the injured protestors are not receiving adequate medical care, as local health centres are not well equipped.
The office of Peru's Ombudsperson states that 79 demonstrators are in police and army custody.
Please send personal appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, making any of the following points in your own words:
expressing concern at the reported serious human rights violations in the operation in Bagua, Amazonas Department, which led to the deaths of at least nine Indigenous demonstrators and 24 police officers, as well as to injuries to at least 169 Indigenous demonstrators and 31 police officers;
urging the authorities to ensure that all those injured have access to medical care;
urging the authorities to publish a list of all those being detained and their places of detention;
expressing concern that President Alan Garcia has linked protestors with the armed opposition group Shining Path and accusing them of terrorism (see Background below);
urging the authorities to either charge those detained with recognisable criminal offences or to release them without charge, to allow them access to a lawyer, and to guarantee that no detainee will be subjected to any form of torture or other ill-treatment;
calling on authorities to guarantee access to the area to human rights and humanitarian organizations;
urging them to ensure that they consult and cooperate in good faith with Indigenous Peoples through their representative institutions before adopting and applying legislative or administrative measures that affect them.
Sr. Alan García Pérez
Palacio de Gobierno
Plaza Mayor S/N.
Lima 1, PERÚ
Fax: 011 51 1 311 3940
Salutation: Dear President
Sr. Yehude Simón Munaro
Av. 28 de Julio 878
Lima 18, PERÚ
Fax: 011 51 1 716 8680
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister
IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO SEND A COPY TO:
His Excellency Jorge Juan Castañeda Méndez
Ambassador for the Republic of Peru
130 Albert Street, Suite 1901
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5G4
Fax: (613) 232-3062
Amnesty International has received reports of excessive use of force by police, as well as cases of police officers being abducted and killed by members of Indigenous communities.
Several leaders of the Indigenous organizations linked to the protests have been charged with sedition and conspiracy to take action against public order. Among them is Alberto Pizango Chota, President of the Asociación Interétnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana (Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Jungle). On 6 June the authorities issued a warrant for his arrest, and added new charges, including homicide (homicidio calificado), attacks against the armed forces and illegal possession of firearms. The charges carry sentences of up to 35 years' imprisonment. Alberto Pizango is understood to have sought refuge at the Nicaraguan Embassy in Lima on 8 June.
In a speech on 8 June, President Alan Garcia linked Indigenous protesters to the armed opposition group Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) and accused them of terrorism.
The government has given no details of those injured or detained.