Peru: Appeal for calm after fatal violence at mine protest

Local authorities and social leaders in Peru’s northern Cajamarca region must urgently appeal for calm, Amnesty International said after violence erupted at protests against a goldmine, killing at least four people. Since Wednesday, Peruvian authorities imposed a state of emergency in three northern provinces in response to the clashes, which have also resulted in more than 20 injured people – including civilians and members of the security forces – and scores of arrests over the past two days. “The worrying intensification of social conflicts over natural resources in Peru is paving the way for a series of grave human rights violations,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Deputy Americas Programme Director at Amnesty International. “A full, independent and impartial investigation into the recent clashes is crucial, and those responsible for the loss of life must be held to account. Security forces may only use the minimum amount of force necessary to avoid loss of life or serious injury to themselves or others.”Among those temporarily detained on Wednesday was Marco Arana, one of the leaders of the movement against the construction of Peru’s largest goldmine nearby – known as Conga – which is overseen by US mining firm Newmont and a local subsidiary. Marco Arana reported that police beat him in custody. Amnesty International is deeply concerned about the situation of detainees and the ability of human rights defenders to carry on their work without fear of reprisals. “Even in a state of emergency the authorities must respect individuals’ right to life and physical integrity, and detainees must be guaranteed their due process rights,” said Guadalupe Marengo.