WASHINGTON – June 9 – Early Friday June 5, as hundreds of Indigenous protesters blocked a highway in the northern province of Bagua, a police force of some 600 opened fire into the crowd, killing 25 and injuring more than 150. In subsequent clashes over the weekend, up to 22 police officers and at least 40 Indigenous people, including three children, have been killed.
MADRE decries the police brutality that led to these killings and notes that the human rights crisis in Bagua is ongoing: the government has declared a curfew from 3pm to 6am, protesters have been labeled “terrorists,” and Peruvian troops have occupied towns.
MADRE joins the international Indigenous movement in condemning the Peruvian government’s incursions onto Indigenous territories in the Amazon.
This weekend’s police violence is intended to enable implementation of the US-Peru Free Trade Agreement, which entered into force on February 1, 2009. The Agreement was accompanied by new laws in Peru to open up Indigenous lands in the Amazon region to multinational corporations for increased mining, agribusiness, oil drilling and deforestation. Since April, Indigenous Peoples have organized to demand the repeal of the new laws. Local communities have blocked roads and bridges to prevent multinational corporations from operating on their lands.
While Peruvian President Alan Garcia has claimed that the protesters are standing in the way of development, MADRE joins Indigenous leaders who have underscored their right to free, prior and informed consent regarding any activities on their lands, as codified in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Member of the MADRE Network of Experts and Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Victoria Tauli-Corpuz released this statement in the wake of the violence:
“The Chair of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues expresses her shock and deep distress at reports received of atrocities committed starting 5 June against Indigenous Peoples in the Amazon region, resulting in the loss of lives, disappearances and grave injuries. The Chair sends her deepest condolences to the families of the victims. The Chair calls upon the Peruvian Government to:
Immediately cease all violence against indigenous communities and organizations, Ensure immediate and urgent medical attention to the wounded and assist the families of the victims, Abide by its national and international obligations regarding the protection of all human rights, including the rights of indigenous peoples and human rights defenders, especially their right to life and security.”
MADRE is an international women’s human rights organization that works in partnership with community-based women’s organizations worldwide to address issues of health and reproductive rights, economic development, education, and other human rights. MADRE provides resources, training, and support to enable our sister organizations to meet concrete needs in their communities while working to shift the balance of power to promote long-term development and social justice. Since we began in 1983, MADRE has delivered nearly 25 million dollars worth of support to community-based women’s organizations in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, the Balkans, and the United States. For more information about MADRE, visit our website at www.madre.org.