As Peruvian Indigenous Leader Seeks Asylum, Indigenous Voices Must Be Heard

For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

Diana Duarte, Media Coordinator (212) 627-0444; 
media@madre.org

As Peruvian Indigenous Leader Seeks Asylum, Indigenous Voices Must Be Heard

NEW YORK - As protests by Indigenous Peoples continue in Peru, Indigenous
leader Alberto Pizango this week took refuge at the Nicaraguan embassy
in Lima.  The Peruvian government has sought his arrest, charging him
with sedition for leading these protests.  

Today, MADRE joins Indigenous leaders in Peru and worldwide who
underscore that the perspectives of Indigenous Peoples are essential to
a full understanding of this crisis and must be heard in the press and
beyond.  

Alberto Pizango has served as a leader and spokesperson for an
Indigenous movement standing in opposition to new government laws that
open the door for increased incursions by multi-national corporations
in the Amazon region of Peru.  To prevent an escalation in oil
drilling, industrial agriculture, mining and logging, Indigenous
Peoples organized against these laws and mobilized protests across the
region.

The recent violence was sparked early last Friday when the government
called in police forces to confront a group of Indigenous protesters
blocking a road in the province of Bagua.  As many as 25 Indigenous
people were killed and many more injured when the police opened fire on
the crowd.  The violence has continued to claim lives in recent days.

Vivian Stromberg, Executive Director of MADRE, said today, "In many
official portrayals of the crisis in Peru, Indigenous Peoples have been
cast as agitators undermining national development.  In fact,
Indigenous Peoples have organized to protect their lands against
harmful policies that were negotiated and decided without their
consent-in contravention of the UN Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples.  Alberto Pizango has been crucial to this effort,
and Peruvian authorities' depictions of him as an outlaw or assassin
are politically motivated.  These portrayals have been uncritically
reproduced by many in the global media."

The Nicaraguan ambassador to Peru has indicated that Nicaragua has granted asylum for Alberto Pizango.

For more information about the crisis in Peru, see this MADRE
statement, "MADRE Denounces Peruvian Police Crackdown on Indigenous
Protesters," available here: http://www.madre.org/index.php?s=4&news=178

Available for comment:

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz is Executive Director of the Tebtebba
Foundation (Indigenous Peoples' International Center for Policy
Research & Education) and serves as the Chair of the UN Permanent
Forum on Indigenous Peoples (UNPFII).  She was the Chair of the Board
of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Indigenous
Populations from 1996 to 2003; she is the founder and convener of the
Asia Indigenous Women's Network. She is an Indigenous activist who is
committed to the recognition, protection, and promotion of Indigenous
Peoples' rights worldwide; and has been defending the rights and
cultures of Indigenous Peoples for more than 30 years.

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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.

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