Thursday, July 2, 2009

Violence in Peru - Jesuit Perspective

Thanks to the Social Justice Secretariat for the Jesuits in Rome for this quick headline and information!

* Hotspots: Jesuits "cannot stay on the sidelines of events" in Peru

Violent clashes between police and indigenous people in northern Peru on 5 June left, according to official sources, 23 police officers and 10 protesters dead. Two hundred indigenous were injured, 61 are said to have disappeared and 83 have been arrested, of whom 61 are now on trial. Those who have been released from prison said they had been subjected to physical and psychological abuse.

The indigenous had been peacefully blocking a road for weeks to protect their land from the effects of a law passed in 2008 allowing its exploitation through the growth of biofuels, mining and oil drilling The violence was unleashed when police officers, who were given the word from the capital Lima to remove the protesters, moved in with tear gas and automatic weapons. The protesters were armed largely with spears. The law was subsequently revoked on 18 June.

A number of Jesuits are closely involved with the indigenous tribes of Awajun and Wampis in the area and are supporting the affected communities by reporting events, helping the wounded, visiting those in prison, advocating for detainees and facilitating the return of the displaced. César Torres SJ, coordinator of the social apostolate in Peru, said in a statement issued on 10 June: "It is our vocation to protect the life of all people and we feel sadness and outrage about any act to the contrary. Our presence in the area (Vicariato de Jaén) responds to a mission that the Society of Jesus has been entrusted with by the Holy Father; therefore we cannot stay on the sidelines of events."

For more information, links and videos, go to the SJS webpage that we have created here:

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