Lima, Feb 16 (EFE).- Amnesty International sounded the alarm Thursday about the criminalization of peasants and indigenous people by Peruvian security forces responding to protests against the transitional government that took power in early December.
“Serious violations of human rights are being committed in Peru,” AI’s director for the Americas, Erika Guevara-Rosas, told a press conference in Lima.
Presenting the preliminary findings of AI’s mission in the Andean nation, she accused authorities of mounting “generalized attacks against the population, with the intention to punish and to silence people exercising their legitimate right to protest.”
Seventy people have died during the course of the protests that erupted following the ouster of elected President Pedro Castillo on Dec. 7 hours after he tried to dissolve Congress and set elections for delegates to a constitutional convention.
Most of the 48 confirmed fatalities were of demonstrators who died at the hands of the security forces.
“The Peruvian authorities have permitted that for more than two months, the excessive and lethal use of force is the government’s only response to the social clamor of thousands of communities that today demand dignity and a political system that guarantees their human rights,” Guevara-Rosas said.
She pointed out that while indigenous-majority provinces represent just 13 percent of Peru’s population, those same provinces account for 80 percent of the deaths during the current crisis.
“It’s no coincidence that dozens of people told Amnesty International they felt that the authorities treated them like animals and not human beings. The systemic racism ingrained in Peruvian society and its authorities for decades has been the driving force behind the violence used to punish communities that have raised their voices,” Guevara-Rosas said.
AI investigators visited the southern Peruvian provinces of Ayacucho, Apurimac and Cuzco between Jan. 29 and Feb. 11, and also met with senior officials, including the head of the transitional government, former Vice President Dina Boluarte.
People in the south turned out in large numbers in 2021 to vote for the outsider Castillo, a schoolteacher of peasant origin who promised to address poverty, who narrowly prevailed in a runoff against Keiko Fujimori, daughter of imprisoned former President Alberto Fujimori.
Guevara-Rosas was joined at the press conference by Dany Quispe and Ruth Barcena, father and spouse, respectively, of two people killed by police.
“A 32-year-old gentleman who loved the life his family had,” Barcena said of husband Leonardo Hancco Chacca, one of 10 people fatally shot on Dec. 15 during a protest in Ayacucho, Peru’s second city.
The widow, who leads the Association of Families of the Murdered and Wounded in Ayacucho, said that she is pursuing truth and justice.
“Who gave that order to kill, to repress all those people who participated in the peaceful march in Ayacucho?,” she asked.
Quispe, speaking in the indigenous Quechua language, demanded justice for his 18-year-old son, Beckhan Romario Quispe, who died of a gunshot to the head during a protest on Dec. 11 in the southern town of Andahuylas.
“The murders have come, the sadness has come, the pain has come,” the grieving father said. EFE csr-pfc/dr