Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Peru: Majaz Timeline

Heard about the Majaz torture case but don't have it quite clear in your mind? The blog of the Peruvian Coordinator of Human Rights has a handy timeline - Spanish speakers can read it right here. For English speakers, here's a summarised translation in note form:

2002-2003 - Majaz begins exploratory activities without authorisation from local community assemblies - local people protest

2004, April - large march against Majaz - police violence, leading to death of Reemberto Herrera - some say he was hit in face by tear gas canister, others claim he was shot - little public attention - mining company claims protesters, priests and local authorities are terrorists

May - local bishops call for cease to mining activities in their diocese

November - environmentalist radio station La Poderosa, led by journalist Federico Ibáñez, destroyed by mob linked to company

December - mob beats and harasses Ibáñez and community leader Josefa Adrianzén, who are later detained by police for two months - lack of response from organisations supposed to defend freedom of press

2004-2007 - sustained campaign against mining opponents from the newspaper Correo de Piura - linked with terrorist group in television programme Panorama (Panamericana Television)

2005, August - march against Majaz - police detain many villagers - 28 are tortured, including journalist Julio Vásquez - death of Melanio García- employees of Forza, Majaz's security company, also participate in torture

2006, March - water and mining forum violently disrupted by crowd transported by Majaz representatives - beatings

2006 - Richard Ralph, the British ambassador, leaves his post - shortly after becomes Executive President of Majaz

2007 - Chinese consortium Zijin takes over Monterrico Metals and the project is renamed Río Blanco

2007, Sept - local assemblies reject presence of Majaz - company, government and some sectors of the media launch campaign against organisers, accusing them of being terrorists linked to Hugo Chávez and Al Qaeda

2008, March - organisers of local consultation, including Javier Jahncke (Fedepaz) and Julia Cuadros (Cooperacción) again accused of terrorism - Peruvian press association finds against Correo de Piura for its reporting and Panorama reporters are convicted of slander

2008, Dec - terrorism case against opponents re-opened - Ministry of Defence produces Supreme Decree which declares necessity of Majaz's intervention in the border zone

2009, Jan - photographic evidence of atrocities committed in 2005 surfaces

What do we see here? We see, again, that being interested in human rights, being involved in indigenous politics, and opposing current government policy are the kind of things that will get you called out as a terrorist. We see that calling 'terrorist' is often a way of stifling debate and crushing opposition. And we see that the atrocities of August 2005 were not isolated incidents, but were part of a concerted campaign to prevent protests against mining development in the area.

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