Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Peruvian Army Sent to Suppress Peaceful Indigenous Protests Against Resource Extraction in Amazon Basin

Amazon Watch: Oil Production Interrupted as Peru Sends in Army to Suppress Peaceful Indigenous Protests

LIMA, Peru, May 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Peruvian government Saturday authorized the intervention of armed forces in the Amazon to crack down on growing indigenous protests against new decrees aimed at facilitating the entry of oil, mining, logging and agricultural companies into indigenous lands without prior consultation or consent.

On Monday, sustained protests led the state oil company, Petroperu, to shut down its main oil pipeline. This shutdown comes after a month of protests by more than 30,000 indigenous peoples. Indigenous communities have engaged in peaceful actions and blockades of roads and rivers throughout the Amazon protesting new legislation passed to facilitate the Free Trade Agreement with the USA that undermines their rights.

Videos and photos available on http://www.amazonwatch.org/ show police beating peaceful protesters and firing rubber bullets to break up peaceful Awajun and Huambis demonstrators last week when they blockaded the Corral Quemado Bridge near the northern town of Bagua, resulting in dozens injured and one person missing, who is feared dead.

In a statement, Alberto Pizango, president of the national indigenous rights organization AIDESEP who was criminally charged today for his role in the nationwide protests, stated: "The extraction of gas and oil, logging and the dredging of rivers in search of gold are destroying in a few years social structures, indigenous customs and coexistence strategies that date back thousands of years."

International and Peruvian human rights organizations are widely criticizing the Peruvian government's backward policies on indigenous peoples. In a recent statement President Alan Garcia said that every Peruvian should be entitled to benefit from the nation's natural resources, and not just a "small group of people who had the fortune to be born there."

Atossa Soltani, who heads the human rights and environmental organization Amazon Watch, commented, "Indigenous Peoples are asserting their collective right to determine how and under what conditions 'development' is carried out on their traditionally owned and legally recognized homelands."

"The Garcia Administration is clearly out of step with international conventions on indigenous rights that have been ratified by Peru, not to mention aspects of country's own Constitution. We urge the government of Peru to use restraint and avoid bloodshed, seeking meaningful dialogue to resolve the conflict instead."

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