Julio Cesar Vasquez was tortured. Photo anonymous source
The farmers were protesting against a mining venture that is destroying their land and ways of living. Last month, they denounced the crime publicly in a press conference.
Now they are facing death threats. This is an edited translation I made of a press release sent by Amnesty International Peru. This was forwarded to me by one of the farmers who was tortured in Peru.
The original version in Spanish is here
- Urgent Action: Peruvian journalist and farmers face death threats
Peruvian journalist Julio Cesar Vasquez has filed a legal complaint against police officers and security guards at a mining company that allegedly tortured him while reporting on a protest in March 2005.
Last February 5, Vasquez received a phone call from a man who told him that if he did not withdraw the complaint, he would kill him. Amnesty International believes that Julio Vasquez and the 28 farmers that have joined the complaint are facing an eminent danger.
The alleged caller said, "Since when is your job to help terrorists? We are going to make sure you rot in jail if you do not withdraw the accusations, if you don’t do it then you will arrive at the jail in pieces." Julio Vasquez has claimed that he had received several phone calls that same week, but when he answered, nobody spoke.
Last January 6, Julio Vasquez and local human rights organizations held on a press conference in the capital, Lima. They made public a series of photographs that [a source] had handed them and had been taken during the torture that Julio Vasquez and 28 members of the rural communities of Piura had suffered in August 2005.
Julio Vasquez works for Cutivalú, a local radio station in the northwest region of Piura. On August 1, 2005 he reported on a peaceful march organized by residents of the rural communities of Yanta y Segunda, and Cajas, [in the northern provinces of Ayavaca and Huancabamba] towards the mining company site in the Majaz Rio Blanco region, near the border with Ecuador. The marchers walked for days.
When the demonstrators were protesting in front of the mining site, Julio Vasquez and 28 farmers were intercepted by police and taken to the Majaz Rio Blanco camp, where the police and security guards working for the mining company kept and tortured them for three days. The victims assure that were kept blindfolded and their heads were covered with plastic sacks that contained a chemical powder that made them vomit and have difficulty breathing, and also they were beaten. Two women in the groups have complained of being sexually assaulted.
Both Amnesty International Peru and the Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos are requesting everyone to take action, especially Peruvians everywhere.
You can send letters by mail or by fax to Peru’s Minister of the Interior and the Attorney General to express your concern about the safety of Julio Vasquez and the 28 Peruvian farmers.
Ask them to order an independent and impartial investigation into allegations against the police and security guards, and to bring those responsible to justice. Finally, urge them to ensure the right of local communities affected by mining projects to openly receive information and to participate in a public consultation, transparent and fair process before any mining activity in their communities.
Go to this link –for a letter template in Spanish- and follow instructions.
From the AI press release and videos by Guarango.
Minera Majaz is a subsidiary of the British company Monterrico Metals. Minera Majaz was the management responsible for Rio Blanco copper mine until February 2007 when it was acquired by Chinese consortium Zijin, a company that now owns 89 percent of the shares of Monterrico.
Minera Majaz has been extracted copper since 2003, from the lands of rural communities Segunda y Cajas, and Yanta. According to those communities, a popular vote has not been reached the two thirds majority required by law to allow the mining activity. They opposed because mining pollutes their fields and water supplies, causing a negative impact on wildlife. Locals state that they were not adequately informed or consulted before the extraction activity started.
Since 2006, Amnesty International Peru has documented several cases of activists working to protect the rights of communities affected by mining projects. They have been accused unfairly of crimes such as terrorism and have received death threats. None of the threats has been adequately investigated, and no one has been brought to justice.
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