08 June 2009
Amazon Watch: Eyewitness Reports Accuse Peruvian Police of Disposing the Bodies of Dead Indigenous Protesters ...
Bagua, Peru (June 8, 2009) – In the aftermath of Friday's bloody raid on a peaceful indigenous road blockade near Bagua in the Peruvian Amazon, numerous eyewitnesses are reporting that the Special Forces of the Peruvian Police have been disposing of the bodies of indigenous protesters who were killed.
"Today I spoke to many eyewitnesses in Bagua reporting that they saw police throw the bodies of the dead into the Marañon River from a helicopter in an apparent attempt by the Government to underreport the number of indigenous people killed by police," said Gregor MacLennan, spokesperson for Amazon Watch.
"Hospital workers in Bagua Chica and Bagua Grande corroborated that the police took bodies of the dead from their premises to an undisclosed location. I spoke to several people who reported that there are bodies lying at the bottom of a deep crevasse up in the hills, about 2 kilometers from the incident site. When the Church and local leaders went to investigate, the police stopped them from approaching the area," reported MacLennan.
"Witnesses say that it was the police who opened fire last Friday on the protesters from helicopters," MacLennan said. "Now the government appears to be destroying the bodies of slain protesters and giving very low estimates of the casualty.
President Alan Garcia is being widely criticized for fomenting a climate of fear mongering against indigenous peoples by drawing parallels to the brutal Shinning Path guerrilla movement of the 1980s and early 1990s, and by vaguely referring to external and anti-democratic threats to the country.
The Amazonian indigenous peoples' mobilizations have been peaceful, locally coordinated, and extremely well organized for nearly two months. Yet Garcia insists on calling them terrorist acts and anti-democratic. Garcia has even gone so far as to describe the indigenous mobilizations as "savage and barbaric." Garcia has made his discrimination explicit, saying directly that the Amazonian indigenous people are not first-class citizens.