Peru uses emergency rules to end violent protests at Xstrata mine
Protesters in the Peruvian province of Espinar have accused Xstrata’s Tintaya mine of causing pollution, and demanded an increase in donations that the company makes towards local development projects. As the protests grew last week, police moved in: two people were reported killed, with fifty others injured. In a typical “knee jerk” reaction, the purportedly leftwing government of Ollanta Humala suspended freedom of assembly and imposed emergency rules.
Peru declares state of emergency after two killed in mining protests
NB This Guardian article mentions ‘Tinaya’ but the name of the mine is ‘Tintaya’. Xstrata is based in Switzerland but listed on the London Stock Exchange.
Police protect themselves from stones during a rally protesting against Swiss-owned mining company Xstrata, in Cuzco. Photograph: AFP/Getty Peru’s government has declared a 30-day state of emergency in a highland province after it said two people were killed and dozens of police officers injured in violent anti-mining protests.
Interior minister Wilver Calle told a news conference that 30 police officers were hurt in clashes near Cuzco when protesters hit police with rocks and set fire to pasture.
The protesters claim the Tinaya copper mine owned by Swiss-based Xstrata plc is contaminating local water supplies and sickening farm animals.
Peru anti-mining protest leader arrested near Cusco
For more information on Xstrata
Statement of Concern and Solidarity with the Espinar Community 29 May 2012
Statement of Concern and Solidarity with the Espinar Community in view of the declaration of the state of emergency and illegal detention of 22 civilians
We are international development organisations with links to the Catholic Church, who represent four European countries, Belgium, UK, Germany and Switzerland.
Bethlhem Mission Immensee, Switzerland
Broederlijk Delen, Belgium
CAFOD, England and Wales
Through this statement, we would like to express our great concern at the increasing conflict in Espinar in recent days and the declaration of a state of emergency in the province. According to local reports, there are about 1,500 police officers present in the region.
We are alarmed about the police violence aimed at people protesting against the Xstrata mining company, which has already resulted in the death of at least two people and a high number of police and civilians wounded, including the Mayor of the provincial municipality of Espinar.
In addition, we have received alarming information about the torture by public security forces of at least three young people from Espinar and the illegal detention and mistreatment of 22 civilians in the Tintaya Marquiri mine site. Off the 22 civilians being detained, three of them are women, one is a minor, and two are staff members of the Vicariate of Solidarity of Sicuani. The Vicariate has always been recognised for its constructive and impartial work in favour of human rights defence, respecting the legal framework and seeking coordination with the state authorities.
As international organisations, committed to the principles of social and environmental responsibility of mining companies, we make an appeal to the parties involved.
With urgency we ask that:
· The authorities guarantee the physical welfare of the detainees, their transfer to a medical centre or place of legal detention, and that the public security forces who have committed acts of violence are duly investigated.
· Xstrata does not allow its mine site to be used for the illegal detention of civilians.
· The delegation of the European Union and the European embassies in Peru give follow up to the accusations, harassment and criminalisation of the Vicariate staff and community leaders of Espinar who are seeking to defend the people’s human rights, in accordance with the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders.
· Care is given to ensure the respect for the human rights of the people participating in the protests, and that a peaceful resolution to the conflict is sought with the opening of a meaningful dialogue, facilitated through external and independent mediation.
We also respectfully ask the government authorities that:
· The dialogue is carried out with the presence of the most senior Xstrata representatives who have not been involved directly in the negotiations to date;
· The dialogue also includes representatives of the Ministries of Mining and Energy, Health and the Environment;
· The dialogue takes place in Espinar, and not in Cusco, so that the Espinar Community can know about it and feel part of the process;
· The concerns of the population regarding the high levels of heavy metals found in the soil, water, blood and urine of people living near the mining operations are taken seriously;
· The issue of water quality and scarcity is given consideration, taking into account that it affects a large number of the population and is their central concern with respect to the different mining projects that are being developed in the region;
· New studies and participatory environmental research is taken forward in an objective and scientific way, validated by all of the parties involved in the conflict.
Finally, we express our solidarity with the Vicariate of Sicuani, other social organisations and the municipal authorities, who have been striving for several months for a constructive way of making their concerns heard, regarding Xtrata’s social and environmental mining operations in the region.
Bethlhem Mission Immensee, Switzerland
Broederlijk Delen, Belgium
CAFOD, England and Wales
Public declaration, 29 May 2012
DECLARATION DENOUNCING AND CONDEMNING THE FLAGRANT HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
IN ESPINAR, PERU
By means of this declaration, the organizations making up the support network for communities affected by the perverse and predatory actions of the Swiss-based transnational company Xstrata plc wish to express our emphatic condemnation of the grave human rights violations affecting communities in the province of Espinar, where the Tintaya mine operates. We understand that this action could not have occurred without the complicity of the Peruvian authorities.
Once again, destruction of a public benefit – the environment – and the occupation of territory by large transational corporations has led to acts of repression, violence and the criminalisation of social resistance. This has happened in many other cases which, unfortunately, are occurring repeatedly throughout Latin America in areas affected by mega-projects undertaken by extractives industries.
In the case of Xstrata’s operations in the province of Espinar, after four days of strike action by local communities, the company and the Peruvian State have unleashed violent and indiscriminate oppression against demonstrators. Through the use of private security outfits and with the presence of more than 1500 police officers, they triggered massive repression against men, women, young people, children and the elderly, which ended in the sad and incomprehensible assassination of at least two people, the wounding of many others, including the Mayor of Espinar, and a great and as yet uncertain number of people illegally detained and subjected to torture.
From information from our colleagues in the region, we denounce in particular the toruture of at least three young people from espinar by the police and the illegal detention and ill treatment of 22 civilians in the Tintaya Marquiri camp, including three women, a minor and two workers from the Vicariate of Solidarity of Sicuani.
Through the violent repression, the territory of Cusco is now more or less militarised, and with the declaration of a State of Emergency, the most basic guarantees and rights of the population have been suspended.
With indignation we express our energetic condemnation of this kind of abuse, and we express our profound solidarity with the families of the victims, colleagues from the Vicariate of Solidarity of Sicuani and all the social organisations and local authorities united in the defence of their livelihoods.
As members of the same Latin American people, brothers and sisters in the struggle for the defence of land as the basis of our common life, we declare once more that mineral extraction signifies, in present conditions, the perverse combination of destruction with repression.
We demand of the authorities of the Republic of Peru a full and exact clarification of the facts about the violence, the immediate liberation of those illegally detained, the full restoration of the rule of law and the administration of justice for those politicians, police officers, quasi-police personnel and company staff responsible for the grave violations of human rights which have been committed.
We demand that the governments of the Americas immediately suspend and revise the policies which favour the extractive industries, which threaten the most basic human rights and the related rights of Mother Nature, without which they lose their sustenance.
Asociación Civil Bienaventurados los Pobres. Catamarca. Argentina