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Indigenous groups protest massacre report
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Demonstrators demand protection for their communities.

Thousands of Peruvian indigenous protesters marched in several Amazon cities on Feb. 22 against a government-ordered report on deadly clashes between native community members and police that killed more than 30 people last June.

The day before the march, President Alan García authorized the armed forces to support the police in the region “to protect the population from security threats.”

In a statement, the Inter-ethnic Association of Development of the Peruvian Jungle, Peru´s main Amazon indigenous organization known as AIDESEP, railed against the government for calling up the military as “the indigenous peoples have shown that they are not violent and marched in the streets peacefully” against a report written by a government-appointed commission.

The report, released on Jan. 12, had stopped short of blaming Peru´s president and entire executive branch for the bloody clashes between indigenous protesters and police in June in the Amazon town of Bagua, in which 10 indigenous protesters and 23 police officers were killed.

The indigenous communities argue that the commission failed to include their accounts and did not uncover the causes or analyze the consequences of the violence.

The June clashes erupted after a months-long standoff between the indigenous communities and the government over a series of investment decrees issued by García, which sought to open up the Amazon to large-scale investment projects, including oil, gas and mining.

The special commission that wrote the report — eight government ministers, Amazon regional presidents, indigenous representatives and members of Catholic Church — did say that García´s government rushed to issue the decrees without properly consulting the local communities.

After the violence in June, the indigenous organization´s leader, Alberto Pizango, fled to Nicaragua where he was given asylum after Peruvian officials issued an arrest warrant for him. The indigenous organization demanded he be returned peacefully to Peru.

The demonstrators on Feb. 22 demanded that the government free three indigenous community members who are jailed in connection with the massacre without any evidence. Protesters also said they want the government to cease mining and hydrocarbons concessions on their land.

“This march is the first in a series of peaceful mobilizations until we convince the government and citizens in the capital to understand that the people are not protesting for fabricated interests, but to conserve their ancestral lands,” said Saúl Puerta Peña, national secretary of AIDESEP.
—Latinamerica Press.

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