Peru plans to disband national indigenous organisation

"Armed police attack indigenous protesters at Bagua, northern Peru."
"Armed police attack indigenous protesters at Bagua, northern Peru."
© Thomas Quirynen and Marijke Deleu

The Peruvian government is planning to disband Peru’s national organisation representing indigenous people in the Amazon, known by its Spanish acronym AIDESEP.

The unprecedented proposal for AIDESEP’s dissolution was made by Peru’s Ministry of Justice. It is based on the claim that AIDESEP is ‘flagrantly violating’ its charter and undermining ‘public order’.

In an interview on Peruvian radio on 24 October AIDESEP’s acting president, Daysi Zapata, said indigenous communities would march to the capital city, Lima, if the government did not back down within twenty days.

AIDESEP’s president, Alberto Pizango, currently in political asylum in Nicaragua, said, ‘The government is showing that it is against indigenous people, who are only claiming the right to live with dignity. The government can’t silence indigenous people by dissolving AIDESEP. We are very angry about this. If the government really wanted to solve its problems, it would not be persecuting indigenous leaders nor trying to dissolve an organisation that was founded in 1980 and which is the legitimate voice of Peru’s indigenous movement and deserves enormous respect.’

The proposal to disband AIDESEP was made just three days after armed police attacked a peaceful indigenous protest in Bagua, northern Peru, which formed part of Amazon-wide protests coordinated by AIDESEP. The attack led to more than thirty deaths and two hundred people injured.

The proposed dissolution has been condemned by one of Peru’s leading human rights organisations which described it as ‘arbitrary’, ‘outrageous’, and ‘heightening’ social conflict in the Amazon.

AIDESEP has been summoned by the Public Prosecutor’s office to a hearing on 5 November.

Survival Director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘No more proof is needed to see that Peru’s government is attempting to completely destroy Peru’s indigenous movement. We urge the Ministry of Justice to withdraw the proposed dissolution and get on with its real job – dispensing justice.’