Peru Update: Steps Taken Toward Dialogue After Clashes

Download PDF

International pressure on the Peruvian authorities has brought some progress for Indigenous Peoples in the Amazon. An Amnesty International delegation will visit the country to assess the situation.

Since the violent incidents which took place in Bagua, in the Peruvian Amazon, on 5-6 June, the authorities have taken some steps to establish a dialogue with Indigenous Peoples and open investigations into the events which led to the death of at least 14 police officers and 10 demonstrators. However, concerns remain about allegations of excessive use of force, torture and ill-treatment of detainees and insufficient legal assistance.

An Amnesty International delegation will visit Peru between 12 and 25 July in order to evaluate recent developments and the current situation. After the mission, new information and strategies for action will be circulated.

Many thanks to those who took action!

On the ground in Gaza

Download PDF

An Amnesty International delegation recently entered Gaza shortly before Israeli attacks ended to document the true scale of devastation wrought on civilians.  Amnesty researcher Donatella Rovera has been keeping a dairy of their findings.  Here is a excerpt from an entry she posted earlier this week to Livewire:

Today, Tuesday, it seemed as though Gaza was beginning to draw a collective breath after the shock of the past three weeks of Israeli bombardments. The streets, previously deserted, filled up again and tens of thousands of people who had fled their homes for fear of Israeli attacks began returning to them. But thousands have no homes to which to return because so many were destroyed by Israeli forces.

In Gaza City’s Zaitoun neighbourhood, where scores of homes were flattened by Israeli air strikes and bulldozers women and children were rummaging through the rubble of their homes, trying to recover the little that could be salvaged.

At a mourning tent amidst the rubble the surviving member of the Sammouni family received condolences and recited prayers for their 29 relatives killed by Israeli forces. Salah Sammouni told us that Israeli soldiers had evicted them from their home, which they then used as a military base, and told them to stay in their relatives’ house across the road, only to bomb it the following day.

Some died on the spot, they said, while others were left to die, as the Israeli army did not allow the ambulances to approach the house to evacuate the wounded for several days.

We then visited the Qishqu and al-Daya families whose homes were both destroyed by Israeli bombardments. ‘Abdallah Qishqu, whose house was destroyed by an Israeli air strike on 28 December, told us that his wife, who was seriously injured in the attack, still does not know that their eight-year-old daughter, Ibtihal, was killed in the explosion together with their daughter-in-law, Maisa.

At the Shifa hospital, Gaza’s main hospital, the head of the Burns Unit told us that when the first patients with phosphorus burns were brought in, doctors in the Burns Unit did not realise what had caused the injuries.

“The first thing we noticed were cases with orange burns, different from the burns we are used to dealing with. They started with patches and after a while they would become deeper with an offensive odour and after several hours smoke started coming from the wound,” the doctor said.

“We had a child of three years with a head injury. After three hours we changed the dressing and saw smoke coming out of the wound. We opened the wound and brought out this wedge. We had not seen it before. Later on, some colleagues, doctors from Egypt and Norway, were able to enter Gaza and told us that this was white phosphorus.

“We noticed various things about this: the burn does not heal; the phosphorus may remain inside the body and goes on burning there, and the general condition of the patient deteriorates – normally with 10-15% burns, you would expect a cure, now many such patients die,” he said.

Other doctors from the hospital said they had seen patients with strange injuries that appeared to have been caused by unusual weapons (there is speculation that this may include Deep Inert Metal Explosive – DIME weapons) and which they did not know how to deal with. Patients who should be getting better were getting worse.

AI Gains Access to Gaza

Download PDF

After weeks of Israeli and Egyptian restrictions, AI finally entered Gaza this past weekend to survey the damages caused by three weeks of Israeli strikes. But because of persistent denials by Israel to let human rights monitors enter, the AI mission was forced to enter through the border crossing of Rafah, a town that was extensively bombed in the recent air strikes. The team entered just hours before Israel’s ceasefire and then traveled via road to Gaza city. In a blog entry posted about the experience, they observed:

We saw many buildings reduced to rubble. Some had been directly targeted; others destroyed or damaged when nearby buildings were bombed. In several places, the outer walls of buildings had been blown off

We found evidence of widespread use of white phosphorus by the Israeli army in densely populated areas in and around Gaza City. In an alleyway in Gaza City, we saw barefooted children running around lumps of still smouldering phosphorus. We found more on the roof of a family’s house and still more on a busy street

In the Zaitoun neighbourhood of Gaza City, rescue workers were pulling out the bodies of members of the Sammuni family from the rubble of their home. They had been killed in Israeli strikes two weeks earlier and Israeli soldiers had subsequently bulldozed the house on top of them

One picture–left behind from an Israeli soldier–had the following words scribed on it: “1 down, 999,999 to go.

Meanwhile as US headlines drift away from the conflict in Gaza, leading European publications are running stories about how the attack on Gaza was perhaps worse than we thought. The BBC reports, that 1300 Palestinians have been killed, 4,000 buildings destroyed, 20,000 severely damaged, 50,000 live in UN shelters. In addition, 13 Israelis were killed.

But some, like Eva Bartlett of the International Solidarity Movement, find little reason to celebrate the ceasefire: “Today was the first day that medics and journalists were able to reach areas occupied by the invading Israeli troops. For some the anguish is immense: pulverised homes, killed family members, corpses unretrieved, sanctimony and all that is sacred defiled. For others, the suffering is in the tragedy of shattered dreams, of every personal item destroyed or lost. While the bombs may have stopped, for now, the terror remains. F-16s still flew low, terrifyingly low, today, so loud, so unpredictable. No one here has any reason to believe any words Israeli leaders proclaim. Only reason to believe in the worst.”