Conflicts & War

Families of slain Peruvian protesters demand justice

Lima, Feb 23 (EFE).- Relatives of the 18 protesters killed by police last month in the southern Peruvian city of Juliaca were in this capital Thursday to demand justice and guarantees that the events of Jan. 9 will not be repeated.

“We want justice, that the guilty pay for all these deeds, and we ask that they never happen again, that never again is an entire population driven to mourning,” Raul Samillan said during a press conference at the Lima offices of the National Human Rights Coordinator, an NGO.

His brother, Dr. Marco Samillan, was among the 18 fatally shot in Juliaca and Raul says that his sibling was “extrajudicially executed” while coming to the aid of wounded protesters.

Regarding the government’s promise to pay $13,000 in compensation to victims’ families, Raul Samillan said that “no money will rectify” the losses of Jan. 9, the single deadliest day in more than two months of protests that have left 70 people dead.

“I ask for justice,” said Demetrio Aroquipa, whose 17-year-old daughter died in Juliaca, capital of Puno, Peru’s southernmost province.

Puno, which lies 1,400 km (870 mi) from Lima, has been the epicenter of the mobilization sparked by the Dec. 7 ouster of elected President Pedro Castillo following his attempt to dissolve Congress and convene a constitutional convention.

“A massacre has occurred in Puno, they have murdered civilian people with firearms,” Wilmer Quiroz, an attorney representing the families, said, adding that the state “doesn’t have the right to kill.”

Another lawyer, Armando Halire Mamani, said on behalf of the Association of Jan. 9 Martyrs and Victims that the loved ones of the dead came to Lima to “make the truth known.”

He said that authorities seek to criminalize protesters by calling them “terrorists and communists” or trying to link them to organized crime.

“This is not going to end,” Mamani said, pointing to the long-standing poverty and lack of “basic services” in southern Peru, where indigenous people are in the majority.

Speakers at the press conference also criticized comments by provisional President Dina Boluarte, who said last month that “Puno is not Peru” in the context of arguing that the country is more than one province.

“We are part of this country,” Raul Samillan said. “We are of Puno and Puno is not something alien to Peru.”

Addressing the legal aspect, Quiroz complained that the Attorney General’s Office has yet to contact any of the families of the slain and that investigators have not collected evidence nor taken statements from the police and soldiers involved in the events of Jan. 9.

“This massacre cannot go unpunished,” attorney Cesar Quispe said. “We are supposed to be a civilized country.” EFE csr/dr

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