From Ecological Internet:
PRESS/SOCIAL MEDIA RELEASE
Police Violently Attack Peaceful Indigenous Blockade in Peruvian Amazon, Killing Many
– Peruvian police reportedly shot indigenous protesters from helicopters — as they were peacefully protecting their ancestral land.
RENEWED CALL TO PROTEST/TAKE ACTION: Online affinity campaign demanding Peru respect indigenous rights continues …
June 5, 2009
By Rainforest Rescue and Earth’s Newsdesk, Ecological Internet
Peru‘s police have clashed with Amazon tribes opposed to foreign companies opening oil wells and mines in their rainforests without their consent. Police reportedly shot at protesters from helicopters, killing as many as twelve blockading a road to protect their land. Amazon Watch and Western media report indigenous protesters outside of Bagua, in a remote area of northern Peruvian Amazon, were forcibly dispersed by tear gas and real bullets. Reuters reports 12 protesters were killed, while Agence France-Presse puts it at 9. It may have been worse.
The threat of continued violence is real and imminent. Some 30,000 indigenous people have blockaded roads, rivers and railways for months to demand repeal of new laws that allow oil, mining and logging companies to enter indigenous territories without their consent or even any consultation. Reinhard Behrend, Rainforest Rescue’s Director, notes “it is important to realize that our overconsumption in the rich and emerging nations is at the root cause of deadly conflict for rainforests and Indians. We ask people to eliminate their use of industrially harvested timbers, oil and minerals from the world’s rainforests, and protest this senseless violence at Peru embassies all over the world.”
Indigenous communities complain that some 70% of Peruvian Amazon territory is now leased for oil and gas exploration, putting at risk their own lives and the biodiversity of the Amazon. Some of the controversial laws encouraging foreign investment in the Amazon were passed last year as President Garcia moved to bring Peru’s regulatory framework into compliance with a free-trade agreement with the United States.
“The same indigenous abuses suffered historically to access resources by the West continue to this day. All Earth’s citizens must demand the Peru government respect indigenous land rights, and pursue locally controlled ecologically sustainable development in the Amazon based upon the benefits of standing trees and intact ecosystems,” says Dr. Glen Barry, Ecological Internet’s President.
CONTACT: Dr. Glen Barry, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reinhard Behrendt, email@example.com
30 Peruvian Indians killed in land protest: here.
A massacre carried out by heavily armed Peruvian security against protesting Amazon Indians left dozens dead as the Garcia government attempts to open up the region to exploitation by the transnational corporations: here.
Fri Jun 5, 5:23 pm ET
BAGUA, Peru (AFP) – At least nine police officers and seven Amazon Indians were killed Friday in violent protests in northern Peru over land rights, local officials said.
Fighting broke out when some 400 police officers moved in to break up a roadblock stopping traffic along a highway near the city of Bagua, 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) north of Lima.
Some 2,500 Indian protesters had been blocking the highway with tree trunks and boulders since last week.
The protesters want decrees signed by President Alan Garcia in 2007 and 2008 easing restrictions on mining, oil drilling, wood harvesting and farming in the Amazon rainforest overturned.
Police managed to clear the road, but the protest retaliated by torching government buildings, looting buildings and attacking the police station, local officials said.
The civilian death toll was confirmed to AFP by Olga Bobadilla from the local district attorney’s office, and by John Delgado Cabanillas, the doctor on duty at the Bagua hospital.
Bagua Mayor Luis Nenez Teran earlier said that nine police officers were killed in the violence.
A police officer in Bagua told AFP that mobs were running rampant in the city.
“We are defending our police station,” said the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The mob wants to attack the police station and is attacking several buildings. We are awaiting reinforcements.”
Police “have been attacked with firearms by local residents that were obstructing the highway,” said police chief Jose Sanchez, adding that more casualties are expected.
Interior Minister Mercedes Cabanillas described the situation in Bagua as “chaotic,” while Foreign Minister Jose Garcia Belaunde said the government decreed a curfew for Bagua and other regional towns.
Some 65 indigenous groups in Peru’s Amazon rainforest have been protesting the Garcia decrees since early April. They are also demanding to be consulted on issues concerning their land.
“We represent 1,350 communities, the equivalent of 600,000 Amazon Indians, and we ask the government to consider 25 million hectares as ancestral territory,” protest leader Alberto Pizango recently told AFP.
“We feel that the government … has always treated us as second-class citizens,” he said.
Following the Friday violence, Pizango said that 22 people had been killed — a figure that could not be verified — and blasted Garcia for “perpetuating the worst slaughter of our people in the last 20 years.”
Our protest “was peaceful,” Pizango said. “We are natives who are demanding respect for our territory and environment.”
An earlier protest in August 2008 ended when mediators agreed to form a study group to look into ways of overturning Garcia’s decrees. As there was no answer, the protest re-started in April.
Protesters include thousands of Indians in five of Peru’s Amazon provinces, from Cuzco in southern Peru north to the borders with Ecuador and Colombia.
Over the past weeks protesters have taken over airports, blocked bridges and highways, prevented navigation along several rivers, and stopped oil extracted from the Amazon from being shipped out of the region.
Peru’s Episcopal Conference — which represents top Catholic clerics — and the government’s ombudsman’s office issued a joint statement calling for “serenity” and demanding “the immediate end to clashes between compatriots.”
Garcia Belaunde denied that the government had violated an International Labor Organization (ILO) agreement with the indigenous people, as native leaders claim.