CIVICUS condemns violence, encourages peaceful dialogue in Peru

12 June 2009. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation condemns the violence stemming from protest in Peru and supports the resumption of peaceful dialogue and cooperation between the Government of Peru and the Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Amazon (AIDESEP).

According to reports, approximately 40 people were killed and more than 100 wounded when Peruvian police and military opened fire on unarmed protestors on 5 June 2009.

The indigenous protesters oppose plans by the Peruvian government to further open parts of the Amazon region for development and the extraction of oil, minerals, timber, and other natural resources by multinational corporations. They maintain that multinational corporations are gaining access to ancestral territories without consultation from indigenous peoples. Protests have resulted in road blockades and the closure of areas in the Amazon region.

Talks among indigenous communities represented by AIDESEP and the Peruvian government broke down on 5 June 2009. Following vows of insurgency by protesters, the Peruvian military joined state police in a campaign of forced removals. Although threats of insurgency have since been rescinded, armed intervention continues, and the 60 day state of emergency that has been in effect since 8 May 2009 remains.

The implementation of newly promulgated laws passed last year give President Garcia new powers to implement free-trade agreements, which includes new trade pacts with the United States and Canada. Such pacts threaten the preservation of rural and native communities' autonomy and use of land as affirmed by Article 89 of the Constitution of the Republic of Peru. Moreover, the laws did not follow mandatory consultation with the affected communities under Article 6 of the ILO Convention 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal People in Independent Countries in breach of Peru's obligations under international law.

Although, the Congress has indefinitely suspended two of the decrees in response to recommendations of the Special Commission of the Congress, Constitutional Commission of the Congress and the Office of the Ombudsman, it has not repealed them to eliminate a significant cause of the conflict.

CIVICUS is deeply concerned over the escalation of violence and increased use of armed intervention by the Peruvian government and recommends that:

(i) an independent commission of inquiry comprising international experts be set up to investigate the violence and the events preceding it; and

(ii) an invitation be extended to the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous People to carry out an investigation.

CIVICUS supports the rights of all peoples of Peru to peacefully organise, protest and petition the government, and encourages resumption of peaceful talks and good-faith dialogue between the indigenous peoples of Peru and the government.