Education International
Education International

EI condemns attacks on Peruvian Indigenous defenders of Amazon jungle

published 11 June 2009 updated 11 June 2009

Education International is raising its voice in solidarity with the Indigenous people of the Peruvian rainforest who are defending their ancestral lands from new legislation that would allow land and resources to be sold without their consent.

On 6 June government forces shot into a crowd of peaceful demonstrators who had blocked a road in Bagua, in the northern Peruvian Amazon. Accounts vary, but it is thought that at least 30 people were killed, about 150 were wounded, and 70 more detained, including some minors.

EI’s affiliate SUTEP reported that an estimated 150 Indigenous people were also disappeared in the wake of the attacks. SUTEP said the local hospital was overwhelmed with casualties, some of whom had to be transferred to other communities for treatment for gunshot wounds. Among them were three teachers, including Prof. Leodoro Gonzales Uriarte, Secretary General of SUTE, the teachers’ union in the province of Utcubamba.

In a strongly-worded letter of protest to Peruvian President Alan García, EI condemns the recent repression and calls on the government to respect ILO Convention 169 on the rights of indigenous peoples, which Peru signed in 1994.

The Indigenous groups are demanding that García withdraw a series of decrees, known collectively as “the Law of the Jungle.” The legislation, which was written to meet the requirements of the 2006 US-Peru Free Trade Agreement, allows private interests to buy up indigenous land and resources, thus opening up the Amazon to resource extraction.

Under the banner of the Inter-Ethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Jungle, 1,350 Amazonian Indigenous groups have mounted a series of protests, including road and river blockades and shutdowns of oil and gas pumping stations.

According to the latest information, the attacks are continuing. On 11 June, SUTEP members will join with other trade union, civil society and church organisations in a massive national day of protest against the repression in Amazonia.

EI will also raise the issue at the International Labour Conference in Geneva, where Peru is on the agenda for the day’s proceedings. EI will call on the Peruvian government to:

  • Lift the state of emergency declared in the Amazonian region;
  • Cease the repression against the Indigenous leaders and protesters;
  • Re-establish dialogue with the Indigenous organisations to seek a peaceful and sustainable solution to the conflict; and
  • Commission an independent international investigation into the recent events.

For the full text of EI’s letter to President Garcia, please follow the link at the bottom of the page.

For additional information, visit the links provided below.

Please write to the Peruvian authorities and the International Labour Organisation at the addresses below:

Sr. Yehude Simon Munaro Prime Minister of Peru Email: [email protected]

Doctor Javier Velásquez Quesquén Presidente del Congreso Plaza Bolívar, Av. Abancay s/n. Lima 1, Perú Email: [email protected]

Mrs. Mercedes Cabanillas Ministerio del Interior Plaza 30 de Agosto s/n Urb. Corpac, San Isidro. Lima 21. Perú Email: [email protected]

Doctor Beatriz Merino, Defensora del Pueblo Email: [email protected]

Director Juan Somavia International Labour Organization (ILO) Geneva Email: [email protected]