Amid Violent Clashes, Peruvian Leaders Should Appeal for Calm

Press Release
July 5, 2012

Amid Violent Clashes, Peruvian Leaders Should Appeal for Calm

Four Dead, Dozens Injured in Confrontations Between Civilians and Security Forces

Contact: Sharon Singh, ssingh@aiusa.org, 202-675-8579, @spksingh

(Washington, D.C.) – Amnesty International today called on local authorities and social leaders in Peru's northern Cajamarca region to urgently appeal for calm after violence erupted at protests against the construction of a goldmine, killing at least four people.

On Wednesday, Peruvian authorities imposed a state of emergency in three northern provinces in response to the clashes, which have resulted in more than 20 people injured -- including civilians and members of the security forces -- and scores of arrests.

"The worrying intensification of social conflicts over natural resources in Peru is paving the way for a series of grave human rights violations," said Guadalupe Marengo, deputy director of the Americas program at Amnesty International. "Security forces may only use the minimum amount of force necessary to avoid loss of life or serious injury to themselves or others."

Among those temporarily detained on Wednesday was Marco Arana, one of the leaders of the movement against the construction of Peru’s largest goldmine nearby, known as Conga, which is overseen by U.S. mining firm Newmont and a local subsidiary. Arana reported that police beat him in custody.

Amnesty International is deeply concerned about the situation of detainees and the ability of human rights defenders to carry on their work without fear of reprisals.

"Even in a state of emergency, the authorities must respect individuals' right to life and physical integrity, and detainees must be guaranteed their due process rights," concluded Marengo. "A full, independent and impartial investigation into the clashes is crucial, and those responsible for the loss of life must be held to account."

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.