Peru: irregularities seen in Bagua massacre case

Peru's Amazonian indigenous alliance AIDESEP released a statement March 20 protesting what they charged are irregularities in the criminal case over the June 2009 violence at Bagua. Days earlier, the local court that had been hearing the case, the Transitory Liquidative Penal Chamber of Bagua, adbicated its authority in the case against several indigenous leaders and turned it over to the National Penal Chamber, based in Lima. The National Penal Chamber officially only hears cases involving terrorism or arms and drug trafficking. AIDESEP said the transfer of the case is intended to imply that "the just struggles of indigenous peoples for the survival of their communities and humanity, as ocurred in the indigenous mobilization of 2008-2009, are acts of terrorism, and this we will not allow." (AIDESEP, March 20)

In the massacre popularly known as the "Baguazo," National Police troops fired on a road blockade established by indigenous protesters at a place called Devil's Curve, leaving at least 34 dead. In the ensuing clash, and others in the following days, 12 police troops were killed, along with some 10 civilians. Now, 54 indigenous activists are facing life terms if convicted in the Bagua violence—while only one member of the National Police is behind bars in the affair, with another two already released.