Thursday, May 27, 2010

Peruvian indigenous leader arrested

While Lori Berenson was paroled from a Peruvian jail human rights and indigenous groups denounced the brief imprisonment of a prominent Amerindian activist.

Just a few minutes ago Alberto Pizango was given a conditional release by a Peruvian judge who “changed the arrest warrant issued against him for a judicial summon.” He had been jailed on Wednesday after returning to Peru from Nicaragua. Authorities accused Pizango of sedition and rebellion connected to last June’s violent protests over proposed oil and gas exploration plans in the Amazon. Though he was granted political asylum in Nicaragua, Pizango said that his return was necessary due to the “enormous sacrifice that has cost me and is costing me so much.”

Pizango was met by about twenty supporters at Lima’s airport where he would eventually was detained and was accompanied by actress Q'orianka Kilcher. "My indigenous brothers and sisters only defended themselves against the exploitation of their lands," Kilcher said in defense of Pizango’s efforts.

The Peruvian government blamed Pizango for incited violence in the 2009 clashes that officially killed over thirty people and President Alan Garcia claimed last October that Pizango wanted to head an armed rebellion. For one human rights group Peruvian officials have unfairly targeted the indigenous leader:

Amnesty International believes that the charges against Alberto Pizango seem to be based purely on the government’s interpretation of events, which is not based on genuine evidence. Consequently, Amnesty International is deeply concerned that Alberto Pizango will not face a fair trial now that he has been arrested upon his return to Peru.
Image- BBC News
Online Sources- Living in Peru, The Latin Americanist, The Guardian, AFP, Reuters, Amnesty International

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