Amazon Indians' protest has impact on government

August 22, 2008

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Protests by thousands of Amazon Indians across the Peruvian jungle have had major impacts on the Peruvian government.

The protests have been in response to new laws passed by the government that the Indians say undermine their rights and make it easier for outsiders to seize control of their territories.

Following the protests, Peru's Congressional Commission on Andean, Amazonian and Afro-Peruvian peoples, the Environment and Ecology has proposed a bill to repeal the two most controversial laws – Legislative Decrees 1015 and 1073. Congress is due to vote today on whether to do so.

Peru's prime minister has described the Commission's decision as establishing 'a bad precedent' because it was made in response to the protests. Meanwhile, Peru's president appealed to Congress not to repeal the two laws, saying it would be a 'historically serious mistake' and would condemn Indian communities to ‘another century of backwardness and misery.’

The government has declared a state of emergency in some parts of the Peruvian Amazon. There are reports of police firing bullets and spraying tear gas to disperse crowds, leaving some Indians wounded.  

Reports say that Peru’s national Amazon Indian organisation, AIDESEP, has called for a suspension of the protests.