Amazon Watch | 22 May 2009
Protests Target Peru’s UN Mission in New York: Indigenous Rights Over US Free Trade Agreement
NEW YORK, May 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Indigenous leaders from around the world are joined by supporters in a demonstration today at 10 am outside the Peru’s Mission to the United Nations (820 2nd Ave. between 43rd and 44th), urging the Alan Garcia Government to respect indigenous peoples’ rights and repeal a series of new laws passed under the pretext of implementing the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States.
More than a hundred indigenous leaders in traditional dress, participants of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, will take part in a colorful demonstration in solidarity with some 30,000 indigenous people in Peru who have been peacefully demonstrating since April 9, blockading roads and rivers throughout the country’s Amazon region.
The contested decrees - aimed at facilitating entry of oil, mining, logging and agricultural companies - attempt to undermine indigenous peoples’ rights to their forest homelands in the Amazon, in some cases taking away the right to prior consultation and consent.
Last Saturday, the Peruvian government authorized the intervention of the armed forces to suppress peaceful protests. In an aggressive harassment campaign, the Garcia government has filed criminal charges of treason and sedition against Alberto Pizango, the president of Peru’s national indigenous organization AIDESEP, and five other leaders. Peruvian and international human rights organizations widely criticize the government’s attacks on indigenous peoples’ rights and demand the government suspend the state of emergency banning public protests.
The state oil company Petroperu has announced that protests have led to the company shutting down the country’s main oil pipeline. Also affected are oil companies Pluspetrol, Petrobras and Perenco. On Tuesday, the Constitutional Commission of the Peruvian Congress voted in favor of repealing Decree 1090, one of the many contested decrees. The matter was scheduled to come before the full Congress on Wednesday, however the ruling party has been blocking debate, asserting that repealing the decree would threaten the FTA with the US.
The Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA) and human right groups including Amazon Watch and Land is Life among others, organized today’s protests. For media inquires, contact Andrew Miller 202-423-4828 or Gregor MacLennan 415-487-9600 ext 306, [email protected] For background information, visit www.amazonwatch.org. Photos and broadcast quality video of Peru protests are available on request.