Monday, 12 January 2009

Peru: More on Torture at Majaz

Following from Otto's post on the abuses against locals at the British-owned mining development at Majaz, here's my translation of an article on the subject by Carlos Castro from La Republica.

On the 28th July 2005, while the then-President Alejandro Toledo led the country and made new promises to the poor, police officers in the service of mining company Majaz repressed, captured and tortured inhabitants from Yanta and Segunda and Cajas, in Ayabaca and Huancabamba (Piura), causing the death of one of them. Photographs submitted to the population some days ago and published by this newspaper reveal the magnitude of the barbarous treatment which until now, more than 3 years later, continues to enjoy impunity.

The images show the villagers in the mining company's camp, cornered, with bloody faces, enmarrocados*, barefoot, with bruises on their bodies, their heads covered with bags which, according to their testimony, contained irritant powder which impeded their breathing. If these photos remind us of the prisoners of Guantanamo, the testimonies of the villagers, victims of abduction and torture, lead us to ask ourselves: how could this happen in a democracy? We have gathered some of the testimonies given in press conferences this week in Piura, and others which appear in the complaint [denuncia] presented by the National Coordinator of Human Rights and the Ecumenical Foundation for Development and Peace to the fifth provincial prosecutor's office in Piura. The testimonies and graphic documents demonstrate the power of a group of police and the privilege which some mining companies enjoy.

Mario Tabra Guerrero, President of the Ayabaca Defence Front and one of the 28 detained, says:

"We were taken to a bathroom where they tortured us for three days, accusing us of being terrorists: 'sons of bitches, you're going to die, why don't you let the company work, ignorant shitty indians'.

When the prisoners called to God, they said 'Dinoes [Peruvian special operations police] is God'. When they changed shift the relevant people approached me and asked 'which is the teacher?'. They approached me, took off my jacket, they sprayed me with irritant powder, dressed me again and beat me. The same thing happened to the detainees."

The detainee Cleofé Neyra was asked about Ramiro Ibáñez, Benito Guarnizo and Josefa Adrianzén (leaders of local defense patrols): "Why didn't those terrorists come to the march? We are going to kill you. Why didn't you stay and shag your husband? You're whores (the police said this while putting their hands between her legs) Why did you come here? This (the land) is private property."

Elizabeth Cunya complained of the cold and they told her: "You're not going to need clothes in the next life where you're going". A policeman took off Cleofé Neyra's costal* and said to her: "You, old woman, you're not going to pay. She (Elizabeth) will pay. Tell me if you're a terrorist. If you tell me, nothing will happen to you. If you don't say, we're going to rape her."

While Yony Carrión Febres was restrained [?enmarrocado] face down, they hit him with a macana [wooden weapon or truncheon]; they smashed Sinesio Jiménez's head against the floor; a police officer walked on the back of Samuel Mezones; they stuffed rotten meat into the mouth of Ricardo Ruiz and forced him to eat it.

Melanio García was killed by a shot after being tortured. "It was as if we were in a concentration camp," said one of the detainees. What do the villagers want: respect for their model of development based on agriculture, livestock and ecotourism. On the other side, the mining company breaks the law and operates without the consent of 2/3 of the community assemblies. And with all this, there are some politicians who protest when the villages make their claim.

Un crimen impune (La Republica)

* Enmarrocar, costal - Yes, a couple of words here where I wasn't completely sure of the definition, particularly in the Peruvian context. The general gist is obvious from context, but anyone who wants to help out with these bits is very welcome to do so.


otto said...

enmarrocar = bound
costal = sack or bag (eg potato sack)

otto said...'s the infinitive "to bind" (but you've got it by now I'm sure)

Lillie Langtry said...

thanks Otto... yes I found that meaning for costal, but from context I was expecting it to mean some kind of clothing. Oh well.