Peru: Government launches attack on Indigenous peoples' organisation

Introduction and translation by Kiraz Janicke

November 4, 2009 --The government of Peru has launched a massive attack on Indigenous peoples through a request to dissolve the Amazon Interethnic Development Association of the Peruvian Rainforest (AIDESEP), Peru's largest and most representative Indigenous organisation. AIDESEP groups numerous regional organisations, representing 65 ethnic groups and has led the struggle against the Garcia governments neoliberal decrees (which are part of the US Free Trade Agreement) aimed at opening up huge swathes of the Amazon to exploitation by transnational logging, mining and oil companies.

Since the Indigneous uprising in Bagua in which an unknown number of Indigneous people were massacred by Peruvian police on June 5, 2009, the leaders of AIDESEP have been facing political persecution, some have been arrested and its president, Alberto Pizango, has been forced to flee and seek asylum in Nicaragua.

Below is a statement below by Andean and Amazonian peoples protesting against the government's attempt to dissolve their organisation.

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Pronouncement by the Andean and Amazonian peoples: For our rights and in defence of organisational autonomy

Against the request by the public prosecutor of the Ministry of Justice to order the dissolution of the national organisation of Indigenous peoples that make up the Amazon Interethnic Development Association of the Peruvian Rainforest (AIDESEP), the community organisations and Indigenous peoples of Peru, and various civil society organisations, express the following:

1. That continuing with its policy of silencing the organisations representing Indigenous peoples, the government through the public prosecutor of the Ministry of Justice has requested the dissolution of the Interethnic Association for Development of the Peruvian Jungle (AIDESEP), as notified October 15, 2009, by the 37th Criminal Court of Lima. This act corresponds to the interests of ending the representative organisations ofIindigenous peoples and communities, and at the same time aims to sharpen social discontent promoting new mobilisations and uprisings, in order to later blame others.

2. Once again the government implements its policy of double standards, because on one hand it announces the installation of spaces for dialogue with Indigenous organisations and the other seeks to dismantle the organisations that have spoken out against the unconsultative application of a series of public policies and legal measures that undermine our legitimate rights to self-determination, land, consultation and others. This shows it is putting economic interests before our rights as Indigenous peoples.

3. We denounce this practice that is not unique to the incumbent government, but habitual of the regimes in recent decades. It seeks to silence and destroy existing organisations or generate other parallel entitites using individuals or organisations that lack representation and legitimacy. This and other situations have led to a series of recommendations by international agencies that monitor compliance with treaties and conventions as in the case of CERD, CEACR-ILO, High Commissioner of United Nations and others.

Given this situation we declare:

We recognise AIDESEP in its condition as a territorial organisation representing the Indigenous Amazon people, with input and suggestions in defence of our rights as peoples during its years of existence. We also support its regional and community-based organisations in the face of this attempt at dissolution by the current government. We reaffirm that our existence as distinct peoples is not subject to the will of the state and as such our organisational autonomy and institutional force must be respected.

We reaffirm the just and legitimate defence of our rights as Indigenous peoples and communities, as are recognised by the constitution, international conventions and treaties.

We reject the discriminatory state policy, which aims to interrupt the process of dialogue between the state and the legitimately elected representatives of Amazon Indigenous peoples, which emerged after the events of Bagua. This should express and give effect to the agreements reached in the communities of the central and northern jungle.

We demand the cessation of hostilities against the national Indigenous organisation AIDESEP and its leaders. There must be an end of claims against it and the filing of complaints for acts that were not generated by the organisation but were generated by unwise government policy and the denial of the existence of Indigenous peoples by the current government.

We demand the establishment of a horizontal dialogue process in good faith and the suspending of operations that attack this process under construction and do not contribute to confidence building between the parties.

We demand that the situation of Indigenous peoples are addressed in general, and that this includes the Amazon, the Andes and the coast, with the aim of determining national policies and that the state does not encourage fragmentation in its treatment [of Indigenous peoples].

Signed in Lima, November 1, 2009.

National Confederation of Communities Affected by Mining Peru -- CONACAMI

Andean Coordinator of Indigenous Organisations --I OTC

Campesino Confederation of Peru -- CCP

National Agrarian Confederation -- CNA

Advisory Council of Indigenous Peoples of the Andean Community -- CCPICAN

Indigenous Collective

Program for Democracy and Global Transformation -- PDTG

[Translated by Kiraz Janicke for Peru en The original version in Spanish can be read here at Revista Mariategui. Kiraz Janicke is a member of the Australian Socialist Alliance resident inVenezuela.]