Amazon Indians protest against government

Thousands of Amazon Indians are protesting against the Peruvian government. Protests have been going on for more than a week and involve an estimated 14,000 Indians from all over the Peruvian Amazon.

A road and a river have been blockaded, boats belonging to a gas company have been intercepted, an oil pipeline has been picketed, and a hydroelectric plant has been surrounded.

The protests are in response to new laws passed by the government. The Indians say the laws undermine their rights and make it easier for companies to take control of their territories.

‘(We) are the victims of a systematic violation by the Peruvian state of the fundamental rights we have over our territories,’ a statement from Peru’s national Amazon Indian organisation, AIDESEP, said. ‘The person responsible for this is the president, Alan Garcia, who has violated Peru’s constitution and international agreements protecting indigenous peoples’ rights.’

AIDESEP and other indigenous leaders have been in talks with members of the government, but these have since broken down. Peru’s prime minister has said that talks can resume if the protests are called off.

The protests started on August 9, the UN Day for Indigenous Peoples. One of the Indians’ main complaints is that the government has failed to consult them about the new legislation, contravening international law and the recently approved UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples’ rights.

AIDESEP has called for the protest to go on ‘indefinitely’ until their demands are met. These include the repeal of thirty-nine laws.