Peruvian Indigenous Leader Detained, Facing Unfair Trial

Rio Sangtiago in Bagua Peru

Rio Santiago, Bagua, Peru ©Ronar Espinoza – Vicariato de Jaén

Segundo Alberto Pizango Chota, president of the Peruvian national indigenous federation AIDESEP, has been arrested immediately upon his return to Lima today after several months in exile in Nicaragua. He is facing charges in Peru which seem to be politically motivated and unsubstantiated, and he may not be given a fair trial. Peruvian indigenous and human rights organizations are already mobilizing to pressure the Peruvian government to dismiss all unsubstantiated charges and ensure that he receives a fair trial. 

Pizango was granted asylum by the Nicaraguan authorities, after the Peruvian authorities accused him of being responsible for violence which led to the deaths of 33 people in Bagua, Amazonas department, northern Peru, on June 5, 2009.  However, at the time of the violence, Alberto Pizango was in Lima, hundreds of kilometers away, and he had made it clear that he was not calling for violence, but rather asking 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. Nearly a year later, Alberto Pizango still hopes to find a way to improve relations between the Peruvian government and the country’s indigenous movement.  It seemed like the right time to return to Peru and to his position as leader of AIDESEP.

Yet, the decision to arrest Pizango today appears to be another demonstration 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.
 
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 now that he has been arrested upon his return to Peru. Take action now!

UPDATE (5/27/10): We’ve just learned that Alberto Pizango has been released, but his trial is expected to go forward. Please continue to call for a fair trial, and for the unsubstantiated charges to be dropped.

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18 thoughts on “Peruvian Indigenous Leader Detained, Facing Unfair Trial

  1. Thank you, Amnesty for directing action on this important case. The Peruvian government needs to be reminded that it must respect the rights of indigenous people. Stay tuned to amazonwatch.org for up to the minute news on Alberto Pizango's status.

  2. Fine reporting & reasoned commentary on this crucial case by
    Ms Subherwal.

    This is the sort of "justice" the Indians, the People who are the people of the land, have received from the alien state systems imposed on them ever since the coming of the whites.

    The Peruvian state is itself an alien invasion — no wonder it acts towards the natural & the Indigenous without care or respect.

    Long struggle down a long trail.

  3. From Peltier to Pizango…

    it's the same for the Indian throughout the americas —-

    the imposition, upon the land & all its natural children, of the illegal "legalities" of the invasion.

  4. Thank you, Amnesty for directing action on this important case. The Peruvian government needs to be reminded that it must respect the rights of indigenous people. Stay tuned to amazonwatch.org for up to the minute news on Alberto Pizango’s status.

  5. Fine reporting & reasoned commentary on this crucial case by
    Ms Subherwal.

    This is the sort of “justice” the Indians, the People who are the people of the land, have received from the alien state systems imposed on them ever since the coming of the whites.

    The Peruvian state is itself an alien invasion — no wonder it acts towards the natural & the Indigenous without care or respect.

    Long struggle down a long trail.

  6. From Peltier to Pizango…

    it’s the same for the Indian throughout the americas —-

    the imposition, upon the land & all its natural children, of the illegal “legalities” of the invasion.

  7. So many lies and half-truths in one post that i feel the need to set the record straight. Hopefully you won't delete my post:

    1.- "Peruvian authorities accused him of being responsible for violence which led to the deaths of 33 people in Bagua" He is facing charges of sedition and rebellion, He is the president of AIDESEP, the premier indigenous rights organization in Peru. If you watch this video and go to minute 2:00 you can clearly see where he called for an "Indigenous insurgence" against the government of Peru. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMwEiSiK3AM

    2.- "he had made it clear that he was not calling for violence" Then tell me why did he supported protests by indigenous where they seized control of two energy installations — a natural gas field and a petroleum pipeline in northern Peru. and while all this was happening they took two police officers hostage?

    3.- "but rather asking 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." Bills in Peru like in most countries including the USA only need to be passed by the congress and then signed by the president to become laws. And how is it that annulling some laws regarding lands are going to make you "equal" to initiate a dialogue… ?

    4.- "the decision to arrest Pizango today appears to be another demonstration 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." I don't think inciting violence, taking policemen hostages, seizing control of energy installations are part of people's rights.

    King Hussein I said: "We respect opposition to any position or policy. But we believe that the opinion that should prevail and be respected is that of the majority."

  8. So many lies and half-truths in one post that i feel the need to set the record straight. Hopefully you won't delete my post:

    1.- "Peruvian authorities accused him of being responsible for violence which led to the deaths of 33 people in Bagua" He is facing charges of sedition and rebellion, He is the president of AIDESEP, the premier indigenous rights organization in Peru. If you watch this video and go to minute 2:00 you can clearly see where he called for an "Indigenous insurgence" against the government of Peru. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMwEiSiK3AM

    2.- "he had made it clear that he was not calling for violence" Then tell me why did he supported protests by indigenous where they seized control of two energy installations — a natural gas field and a petroleum pipeline in northern Peru. and while all this was happening they took two police officers hostage?

    3.- "but rather asking 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." Bills in Peru like in most countries including the USA only need to be passed by the congress and then signed by the president to become laws. And how is it that annulling some laws regarding lands are going to make you "equal" to initiate a dialogue… ?

    4.- "the decision to arrest Pizango today appears to be another demonstration 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." I don't think inciting violence, taking policemen hostages, seizing control of energy installations are part of people's rights.

    King Hussein I said: "We respect opposition to any position or policy. But we believe that the opinion that should prevail and be respected is that of the majority."

  9. So many lies and half-truths in one post that i feel the need to set the record straight. Hopefully you won't delete my post:

    1.- "Peruvian authorities accused him of being responsible for violence which led to the deaths of 33 people in Bagua" He is facing charges of sedition and rebellion, He is the president of AIDESEP, the premier indigenous rights organization in Peru. If you watch this video and go to minute 2:00 you can clearly see where he called for an "Indigenous insurgence" against the government of Peru. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMwEiSiK3AM

    2.- "he had made it clear that he was not calling for violence" Then tell me why did he supported protests by indigenous where they seized control of two energy installations — a natural gas field and a petroleum pipeline in northern Peru. and while all this was happening they took two police officers hostage?

    3.- "but rather asking 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." Bills in Peru like in most countries including the USA only need to be passed by the congress and then signed by the president to become laws. And how is it that annulling some laws regarding lands are going to make you "equal" to initiate a dialogue… ?

    4.- "the decision to arrest Pizango today appears to be another demonstration 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." I don't think inciting violence, taking policemen hostages, seizing control of energy installations are part of people's rights.

    King Hussein I said: "We respect opposition to any position or policy. But we believe that the opinion that should prevail and be respected is that of the majority."

  10. So many lies and half-truths in one post that i feel the need to set the record straight. Hopefully you won’t delete my post:

    1.- “Peruvian authorities accused him of being responsible for violence which led to the deaths of 33 people in Bagua” He is facing charges of sedition and rebellion, He is the president of AIDESEP, the premier indigenous rights organization in Peru. If you watch this video and go to minute 2:00 you can clearly see where he called for an “Indigenous insurgence” against the government of Peru. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMwEiSiK3AM

    2.- “he had made it clear that he was not calling for violence” Then tell me why did he supported protests by indigenous where they seized control of two energy installations — a natural gas field and a petroleum pipeline in northern Peru. and while all this was happening they took two police officers hostage?

    3.- “but rather asking 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.” Bills in Peru like in most countries including the USA only need to be passed by the congress and then signed by the president to become laws. And how is it that annulling some laws regarding lands are going to make you “equal” to initiate a dialogue… ?

    4.- “the decision to arrest Pizango today appears to be another demonstration 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.” I don’t think inciting violence, taking policemen hostages, seizing control of energy installations are part of people’s rights.

    King Hussein I said: “We respect opposition to any position or policy. But we believe that the opinion that should prevail and be respected is that of the majority.”

  11. Thank you Alonso for your comments. I'd like to take the opportunity to provide you with my perspective on the points you raise.

    On the first point, he publicly retracted the use of the word "insurgence" within 24 hours of having used it.
    The charges of "rebellion", "sedition" and "conspiracy" were leveled against him and other indigenous leaders after the retraction.

    On the second point, AI opposes violence and has never condoned its use. On June 8th, 2009, following the tragic incidents in Bagua, AI called for an end to hostage taking and the use of force and violence on the part of the indigenous protestors. Following that, AI called for an independent investigation of the Bagua violence.

    On the third point, the indigenous peoples were demanding the abrogation of several laws that were passed, according to them, in contravention of the Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization, of which Peru is party. Their claim was that this made the decree laws illegal. Congress, in fact, went on to abolish decree laws Nos. 1090 and 1064 by a vote of 82 to 14.

    On the last point, I reiterate AI's opposition to violence but would insist that Pizango be given a fair trial, unless the charges are dropped.

  12. Thank you Alonso for your comments. I’d like to take the opportunity to provide you with my perspective on the points you raise.

    On the first point, he publicly retracted the use of the word “insurgence” within 24 hours of having used it.
    The charges of “rebellion”, “sedition” and “conspiracy” were leveled against him and other indigenous leaders after the retraction.

    On the second point, AI opposes violence and has never condoned its use. On June 8th, 2009, following the tragic incidents in Bagua, AI called for an end to hostage taking and the use of force and violence on the part of the indigenous protestors. Following that, AI called for an independent investigation of the Bagua violence.

    On the third point, the indigenous peoples were demanding the abrogation of several laws that were passed, according to them, in contravention of the Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization, of which Peru is party. Their claim was that this made the decree laws illegal. Congress, in fact, went on to abolish decree laws Nos. 1090 and 1064 by a vote of 82 to 14.

    On the last point, I reiterate AI’s opposition to violence but would insist that Pizango be given a fair trial, unless the charges are dropped.