Protests in Peru Over "Oil Laws" Leave Dozens DeadJune 12, 2009
Peru’s Congress temporarily suspended two Amazon investment laws – dubbed the “Law of the Jungle” – that triggered violent clashes that left at least 30 protesters and 24 people police officers dead last weekend. The controversial laws made oil drilling, mining and logging – including on indigenous land – much more accessible for corporations.
Indigenous protesters say that the laws, being passed in part to comply with a trade agreement with the U.S., weaken their rights to land they have inhabited for hundreds of years. One of the laws removed more than 170,000 square miles of Peruvian jungle from the government’s list of protected lands.
The situation continues to be volatile and the human rights of injured and detained protestors remain under attack. On June 5, the National Police forcibly removed Indigenous protesters who had blocked the approach road to the town of Bagua. At least 30 protesters and 24 police officers were left dead, as well as over 200 people injured, including 31 police officers, as a result of this action. And the number of protesters killed is feared to be higher still.
According to local sources, some of the protesters who have been injured are not receiving adequate medical care since local health centers are not well equipped. And at least 79 demonstrators, including several minors, have been taken into police and army custody. It is unclear how they are being treated, what they have been charged with, and whether they have access to medical care or legal assistance. Amnesty International is demanding protection for protestors.