Friday, 12 June 2009

Ten thousand Peruvians march through Lima in support of Amazonian people

For two months, indigenous Amazonian people have rallied against laws which they say will open their lands to oil and gas drilling. Violence erupted last Friday in the town of Bagua Grande when more than 2000 native people - many of them carrying spears and machetes - launched a protest over the Peruvian government's drilling plans. About 30 to 50 protesters and 24 police officers were killed in the worst clashes for at least a decade.

After visiting the area, 1400km (870 miles) north of the capital Lima, rights lawyers said hundreds of people could not be accounted for. Indigenous groups are insisting that the government be tried for crimes against humanity. One of the lawyers, Ernesto de la Jara, urged the government to begin an independent judicial investigation.

"Dead bodies may be covered up for now but, little by little, the truth will come out and they (the authorities) will have to respond," said de la Jara. But the government denies any wrongdoing and has launched a publicity campaign portraying the murders of policemen as acts of savagery.

"It has been irrefutably proven that the police were tortured and killed," Maria Zavala, Peru's ambassador to the Organization of American States, said in a speech in Washington.

Approximately ten thousand Peruvians marched through the centre of Lima yesterday in support of the Amazonian people. Riot squads had to use tear gas to prevent protesters from reaching the Congress building. Watch this short clip of the chaos that reigned in Lima's streets.

Text coutesy of the BBC and Living in Peru

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