Human Rights Advocates Demand Justice for Indigenous Victims of Government Massacre in Peru; Corporations U.S. Held Accountable
BOSTON/Bay Village - In response to the recent slaughter of indigenous activists who had been blocking highways in protest of recent government decrees that would have opened the Amazon rainforest to oil and mining companies - threatening their way of life - 25 human rights advocates from several local non-governmental organizations held a rally outside the Peruvian Consulate on Wednesday. At least 34 people were killed by elements of the Peruvian military on June 5 at blockades near the town of Bagua, Peru. Some sources indicate that many more were killed and the military threw their bodies into a nearby river to dispose of the evidence.
The advocates demanded justice for the families of the slain activists and the 400,000 indigenous people affected by the decrees. They also implicated the U.S. government and U.S.-based corporations in the growing scandal that threatens to topple the government of Peruvian President Alan García, and pointed out the environmental disaster that could result if the corporations are allowed to further exploit the resources of the Amazon basin.
Adrienne from the Boston Anti-Authoritarian Movement (BAAM) explained, "¡La selva no se vende! ¡El pueblo la defiende! The U.S. is complicit in the murder and disappearances of indigenous people in Peru. Through so-called 'free trade agreements,' U.S. government and industry team up to steal, extract, and exploit the resources of land outside their jurisdiction. Aside from the fact that this is a completely unethical and unsustainable way to run a country, by devastating land and ecosystems, they devastate the people who live and rely on those ecosystems and that land. The dead and disappeared Indigenous people of Peru are only the latest casualties of U.S. free trade agreements."
The event began with representatives of the local organizations entering the Consulate and delivering a letter which they asked the staff to forward to President García.
The letter made the following demands
- Immediately suspend violent repression of indigenous protests and the State of Emergency and allow AIDESEP (Asociacion Interetnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana – Inter-ethnic association for the Development of the Peruvian Jungle) to remain as a valid representative of indigenous interests in the conflict;
- Repeal the series of contested Decrees passed when Congress offered fast track authority to create laws facilitating the Free Trade Agreement with the United States. These laws allow oil, logging, and agricultural corporations easy entry into indigenous territories;
- Initiate an impartial investigation into the events of June 5 at the Devil's Curve (Curva del Diablo) near Bagua Chica;
- Immediately drop all judicial proceedings against indigenous leaders to facilitate a good faith process of dialogue with indigenous peoples to resolve this conflict;
- Uphold the constitutionally guaranteed rights of indigenous peoples to self-determination, to their ancestral territories, and to prior consultation and consent over any policies and activities that affect them;
- Because the killings and the attacks to the civilian indigenous population was carried out by official forces of the state, financial reparation must be awarded to all victims of this tragic attack;
- Assume personal responsibility for the deaths of civilians and police;
- As an act of dignity and to promote forgiveness and reconciliation, resign from your office as President of Peru.
It was signed by the following organizations: Massachusetts Global Action, American Friends Service Committee - Project Voice, Latinos for Social Change, Honduran Project/Proyecto Hondureno, Boston Anti-Authoritarian Movement, Guatemalan Solidarity Committee of Boston, International Action Committee (Boston), Chelsea Uniting Against the War / Chelsea Uniendose Contra la Guerra, Centro Presente, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement. Mass. Chapter, Rising Tide Boston, Rising Tide North America, Boston May Day Committee. The rally continued for over an hour after the letter was delivered. There was no police presence in evidence and no arrests.
When asked if the advocates were planning further activities , Adrienne said, "As for keeping up pressure against the powers that perpetuate and necessitate this devastation, we won't stop until they do."
The Peruvian Congress overturned the two decrees that led to the blockades on Thursday, but indigenous organizations may hold more protests over several other related decrees that were put into effect without consulting them.
The Peruvian Consulate of Boston did not respond to a request for comment from Open Media Boston.