Indigenous Peruvian Leader Detained

While Village Earth’s focus is primarily on our partner communities, at times we find it necessary to address the larger external factors that impact our allies. Today, Alberto Pizango, leader of AIDESEP- perhaps the most important voice in the struggle to protect the indigenous communities of the Peruvian Amazon, was detained. After a year of exile in Nicaragua, he returned to Lima and was immediately taken into custody. While this is undoubtedly a larger political issue, Village Earth is asking you to respond to the Amnesty International Watch alert below. Pizango’s detention not only impacts AIDESEP members, but the indigenous community writ large. This is not merely about Pizango, but about a larger battle for who controls land and resources in the Peruvian Amazon. As allies of an indigenous community in the Amazon, we cannot stand by and allow one of the most important figures in protecting native land rights be silenced. We hope that you will consider supporting this cause by sending your message to the address below. Voices like that of Pizango are vital to our success locally in supporting the Shipibo people’s vision of protecting their land. Sincerely, Village Earth Staff URGENT ACTION INDIGENOUS LEADER COULD FACE UNFAIR TRIAL Segundo Alberto Pizango Chota, president of an Indigenous People’s organization in Peru, is reported to be returning to the country on 26 May after several months in exile in Nicaragua. He is facing charges in Peru which seem to be unsubstantiated, and he may not be given a fair trial. Alberto Pizango, leader of AIDESEP (Asociación Interétnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana)has been in exile in Nicaragua since mid-June 2009. He was granted asylum by the Nicaraguan authorities after he sought refuge in the Nicaraguan embassy in Peru’s capital, Lima, after the Peruvian authorities accused him of being responsible for violence which led to the deaths of 33 people in Amazonas department, northern Peru, on 5 June 2009. One year on from those events, Alberto Pizango is hoping to return to Peru and to his position as leader of AIDESEP. Alberto Pizango was charged with “rebellion, sedition and conspiracy against the state and the constitutional order”, as well as with “apology of crimes against public order”. However, at the time of the violence, Alberto Pizango was in Lima, hundreds of kilometres away. The evidence for the charges appears to rest solely on a press conference given by Alberto Pizango on 15 May 2009 where he called for an “Indigenous insurgence” against the government. At the press conference he apparently clarified that the call for insurgency was a call to the government to annul a series of laws which were being passed without the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous people, as a first step to initiating a dialogue as equals. He publicly retracted this call the following day in the presence of the Human Rights Ombudsperson and this retraction was posted on AIDESEP’s website as well as being reported in the press. Amnesty International believes that the charges against Alberto Pizango seem to be based purely on the government’s interpretation of events, which is not based on genuine evidence. Consequently, Amnesty International is deeply concerned that Alberto Pizango will not face a fair trial on his return to Peru. PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in Spanish or your own language: •    Demanding that the government of Peru ensure that any unsubstantiated charges against Alberto Pizango be dropped immediately; •    Urging the authorities to refrain from making public declarations on this case which may prevent Alberto Pizango receiving a fair trial; •    Reminding the authorities that Indigenous Peoples in Peru have faced decades of ill-treatment and discrimination at the hands of the State and that they have a right to chose their own elected representatives and claim their rights as laid out in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 07 JULY 2010 TO: President Sr. Alan García Perez Presidente de la República del Perú Palacio de Gobierno Plaza Mayor Lima 1, PERÚ Fax: : + 511 311 3940 Email: via website: http://www.presidencia.gob.pe/cartas_presidente.asp Salutation: Sr. Presidente Attorney General Dra. Gladys Margot Echaíz Ramos Fiscal de la Nación / Ministerio Público Av. Abancay cdra. 5 s/n Lima 1, PERÚ Fax: +511 426 2800 Salutation: Sra. Fiscal And copies to: Indigenous organization AIDESEP Av. San Eugenio 981 – Urb. Santa Catalina La Victoria / Lima 13 PERÚ Fax: +511 472 4605 Email: [email protected] Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date. Additional Information On 5 June 2009, 33 people were killed and at least 200 injured after police officers dispersed a road blockade organised by Awajún and Wampís Indigenous people in a stretch of the Fernando Belaúnde Terry highway, known as the Curva del Diablo (Devil’s Bend) leading to Bagua, in Bagua province and Bagua Grande, in Utcubamba province. Among the 33 people who were killed, 23 were police officers and 10 were civilians, including five Indigenous people. Eleven of the police officers were killed while they were held hostage by Indigenous protestors at the Petroperú Pumping Station No. 6. 80km from Bagua near the town of Imacita, Bagua province; 12 were killed during the police operation at the road blockade and the whereabouts of one police officer remains unknown. Amnesty International considers that these tragic events were the predictable and preventable result of the continued disregard by the Peruvian authorities of their duty to respect, promote and protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples in the Amazon region. International human rights standards, including the International Labour Organization’s Convention 169 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which protect Indigenous Peoples against losing their land and resources in the name of development have been adopted precisely to avoid loss of life and livelihood and to ensure that communities enjoy all their human rights, indispensable for their dignity, without discrimination. Indigenous Peoples have the right to be consulted in good faith before the adoption and implementation of legislative or administrative measures that may affect them. However, in 2008, the authorities passed a series of decree laws over the use of land and resources in regions of the country rich in natural resources including the Amazon region and did not consult them. When Indigenous peoples protested against these decree laws demanding their human rights, not only were they not listened to, but on 5 June 2009 they suffered ill-treatment and torture, they were arbitrarily detained, and some were killed.