Amnesty International (AI) and relatives of the victims of the anti-government protests in Peru on Thursday accused the President Dina Boluarte of stigmatizing the demonstrators in their speeches, which, according to the organization, does not, the social legitimization of the 49 deaths in clashes with the forces of order.
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«Peru’s executive branch, including the president and the president Council of Ministers, stigmatized the protesters as violent radicals and have never publicly held the police and the army to account,» AI Secretary General Agnès Callamard said in a statement. Press conference in Lima.
The organization presented its report «Lethal Racism: Extrajudicial executions and illegitimate use of force by the security forces of Peru», which analyzes 52 cases of people killed or injured during the protests that have taken place since December.
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The president deliberately spread misinformation without evidence, and instead of condemning police action, she praised law enforcement as ‘impeccable’.
«Although many protests were peaceful, the president deliberately spread disinformation without evidence, and instead of condemning police action, praised law enforcement by calling it ‘impeccable,’ causing significant suffering to victims and family members (…) which created the conditions in which the attacks were legitimized in the eyes of society».
The presentation of the report was also attended by relatives of victims who died in clashes with law enforcement.
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«On repeated occasions we have heard the president mention that Puno (the southern region) is not Peru, she has branded us as red ponchos (supposedly Bolivian radical group), drug traffickers and smugglers. A series of terms that, after death of our loved ones has deepened our pain,» Raúl Samillán told EFE with tears in his eyes.
Samillán is the brother of one of the 49 deceased and the president of the association of martyrs and victims of Juliaca’s January 9, date and city in which 18 people lost their lives in clashes with the Police.
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He expressed that the stigmatization towards his people can be clearly seen, because the forces of order killed people living in extreme poverty and living in the Andes, something they have not done in Lima. «So, why this difference of taking the lives of those of us who are not in the capital and who value the lives of those who live in Lima more?» He asked himself.
«The narrative of high authorities, including the president, that protesters were violent terrorist groups and eluding armed groups in the history of Peru not only came into a context to legitimize these arbitrary killings and extrajudicial executions, but has also generated a stigma collective of these communities”, affirmed the director for the Americas of Amnesty International, Erika Guevara.
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In this sense, Callamard expressed that Peruvian security forces «only used lethal force outside of Lima, in areas where there are mostly poor, indigenous and peasant populations»even when the protests were less violent than in the capital or other regions, and this is the reason for the name of the report.
«We believe that the repression and the murders are part of the systemic racism against these populations,» he said.