Open Letter to Peruvian President on Conga Shootings

Open Letter to Peruvian President on Conga Shootings

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December 11, 2011

The Latin America Mining Monitoring Programme is organizing an Open Letter to Peruvian President Ollanta Humala regarding the recent shootings of protesters in the region of Cajamarca, Peru.

As documented in the following video by LAMMP, some 10,000 people had been gathered near the proposed Conga gold mine when police opened fire on the unarmed crowd, injuring up to 18 people.

Following the attack, the government of Peru denied that any bullets were fired. Then, on December 4, it declared sixty days of martial law in the region, suspending basic civil liberties and allowing security forces to break up meetings and arrest protesters at will.

Watch this on Vimeo: Conga Shootings

Despite the aggressive measures by Peru, the mostly Indigenous protesters have vowed to continue pursuing their non-violent opposition to the mine.

Please take action now by joining the Open Letter to President Humala of Peru pasted below. Please write to to add you name to the current list of signatories:

Open Letter to President Humala

President Ollanta Humala Tasso
Despacho Presidential
Jiron de la Union s/n 1 cdra

We, the undersigned individuals and institutions of several continents, committed to the movements for world justice, environmental protection and sustainable development, write to express to our deepest concern regarding events currently unfolding at the Yanacocha mine in Peru, owned by US company Newmont, with participation of the World Bank.

On 24 November tens of thousands of Peruvian citizens initiated a protest against the development of the Yanacocha mine at the Conga site. The protesters claim current plans for the mine will destroy the surrounding environment and fresh water supplies affecting a population of approximately 100 000.

On 27 November a report produced by the environment minister Mr Ricardo Giesecke identified severe failings in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approved by the previous administration in relation to the Conga site. We understand Mr Ramiro del Pino, responsible for the government department which approved the EIA, was a former executive of the Yanacocha mining company. Despite these shortcomings and appearance of impropriety, the government of Mr Humala has not sought to review the mine plans and has dispatched security forces to the Conga site.

On 29 November the security forces opened fire on unarmed protesters approaching mine installations. Up to 18 protesters reportedly received gun shot wounds. Between 8 and 30 policemen were injured. The government has so far failed to admit the extent of the civilian casualties and the use of live ammunition. Following the shooting the Yanacocha mine announced it would suspend its operations.

On 4 December the government declared sixty days of martial law or “state of emergency” in the region of Cajamarca. This measure suspends civil liberties and allows security forces to break up meetings and arrest protesters at will. On 6 December Mr Wilfredo Saavedra and five other protest leaders were detained without warrant or charges being laid. Protesters have vowed to pursue peaceful opposition to the mine.

The above situation has created an imminent risk of large scale violence. The circumstances bear a distressing resemblance to the string of recent incidents surrounding extractive industry protests, including the Bagua shootings of June 2006 in which at least 34 protesters and police officers were killed. Such conflicts ultimately entrench antagonisms and frustrate the interests of all concerned.

As the world follows the events at the Yanacocha mine in the following days, we respectfully urge you Mr Humala to consider the following measures: 1) to honor Peru’s commitments to the rule of law and human rights by recognizing and compensating the victims of the 29 November shootings 2) to guarantee the ongoing physical safety of protesters in the Cajamarca region including the right to justice and humane treatment upon detention 3) to properly address environmental concerns raised by the Conga mine and enforce corresponding requirements on the Yanacocha company.

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