Wednesday, July 01, 2009

An open letter to the President of Peru

S.E. Alan Garcia
Presidente de la Republica del Peru
Palacio de Armas
Lima 1

1st July 2009

Dear President Garcia,

I am the director of the Origins Festival of First Nations: a cultural event in London which seeks to validate the marginalised cultures of indigenous peoples around the world. My colleagues and I are deeply disturbed at the recent violence in northern Peru that has resulted in so many deaths.

As I am sure you are aware, the indigenous communities of the Peruvian Amazon have been protesting peacefully for months at the way their lands have been opened up to oil and gas companies without their consent.

Under both Peruvian and international law, these peoples have the right to the ownership of their traditional lands, and development should not take place there without their consent.

The recent actions of your government have been in clear violation of this right.

I urge you to suspend the activities of oil and gas companies in the Amazon pending peaceful negotiations between your government and the representatives of the indigenous people. These representatives, for example AIDESEP and its leader, are well-respected internationally, and to describe them as 'barbaric', 'ignorant' and 'savages', is counter-productive and will surely simply exacerbate an already inflamed situation. I would also call upon you to set up an independent and impartial enquiry into the tragic events of June 5th.

Yours sincerely

Michael Walling - Artistic Director

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