For Immediate Release
Pressure Builds on Peruvian Government to Stop Persecution of Indigenous Leaders
Over 100 Organizations Call for Santiago Manuin’s Acquittal
LIMA, Peru - Over
100 organizations and over 1000 human rights activists sent a letter
today urging the Peruvian government to drop legal charges against
Santiago Manuin Valera, the internationally respected Awajun indigenous
leader currently recovering from eight gunshot wounds suffered during
attacks on protesters by Peruvian Police on June 5th. Peruvian human
rights organization APRODEH coordinated the delivery of the petition to
the Governmental Palace in Lima timed with the United Nations
International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples.
The open letter asks the government to open an investigation into the
attempt on Manuin’s life, compensate him for his injuries and medical
expenses and cease the politically motivated prosecution of Manuin and
other indigenous leaders.
Police continue to raid indigenous organization offices and
communities, while many leaders live in fear of imminent arrest.
Government investigations have focused exclusively on indigenous
people’s actions and not the police’s violent attack on protesters that
resulted in over 200 people being hospitalized.
Last month the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights
and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, James Anaya, issued a
public report on his field visit to Bagua. In his report, Anaya echoes
many of the concerns of indigenous communities and civil society
groups. The report highlights the immediate need for an impartial and
independent investigation, review of charges against indigenous leaders
including Santiago Manuin and AIDESEP President Alberto Pizango, and
creation of a law on indigenous community consultation.
Although the government of Peru publicly supported the findings of the
UN Special Rapporteur’s report, it has not followed a number of the
report’s central recommendations including allowing and enabling a
full, unobstructed and impartial investigation into the Bagua violence.
Families of the police officers killed in Bagua are echoing the UN
Rapporteur’s calls, also demanding a full and independent investigation
into the government’s actions in Bagua. In a recent press conference
Flor Vasquez, widow of a Peruvian Police commander, pleaded for the
government to “get to the bottom of the truth” calling into question
the police’s orders and political motivations that attributed to the
June 5th violence.
“Two months after the violent clashes in Bagua and there are still no
answers about how an attempt to end a peaceful protest resulted in at
least 33 dead and over 200 injured,” said Atossa Soltani, executive
director of Amazon Watch. “We join hundreds of people who are demanding
that the Garcia government open a full independent investigation into
the tragic events on the 5th of June. The politically motivated
persecution of indigenous leaders must stop.”
The full text of the letter is found at www.amazonwatch.org/newsroom/
The Spanish version can be found at www.aprodeh.org.pe/casomanuin.