Final Report on Bagua Violence

31 January 2010

Protester in Bagua

The commission formed to investigate last June's confrontation between Peruvian police and indigenous protestors at Bagua in the Peruvian Amazon released its final report in December 2009. However, Jesús Manacés, Awajún leader and head of the commission, refused to sign the document which he qualified as biased. He said that it neither includes the views of the indigenous members of the commission, nor identifies those responsible from the political, police and military sectors.

Several indigenous and legal organisations have expressed their dissatisfaction at the report. Peru's indigenous Amazonian alliance AIDESEP has called for the creation of a new commission comprising lawyers, human rights defenders and Amazonian bishops to investigate the violence in Bagua and prepare an alternative report. The organisation says that such a report would take on board the recommendations of James Anaya, the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous People, to establish an independent working group to investigate the violence that occurred during the protests last year.

Earlier this month, President Alan García expressed his support for the commission's report. He claimed that it was unfair to talk about a massacre against indigenous people when of the 33 people killed, 23 were policemen. According to an interview on Peruvian current affairs programme Panorama, García maintains that what happened in northern Peru showed signs of paramilitary preparation, and was an attempt to destabilise order within the country.

On June 5th 2009, in Bagua, 600 miles north of Lima, indigenous protests erupted into violence when police tried to clear roadblocks. Official information states there were 33 deaths - 23 police officers and 10 civilians. Amazon indigenous groups say that at least 30 civilians died. The protests started in April 2009, with indigenous groups demonstrating against the legal changes the Peruvian government made in order to facilitate a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US.

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