Since 2003 the Majaz Mining Company, today called Rio Blanco, operates irregularly in the land of peasant communities of Segunda y Cajas and Yanta, in Peru’s northern border. The presence of the mining company is irregular for not having the consent of two thirds of the community assembly’s, according to Law 26505, in order with the People’s Ombudsman (Report 001-2006/ASPMAMA). During two years the affected communities tried to use the dialogue channels with the State to demand the respect of their territorial rights, without any result.
By the end of July 2005 the community members initiated a pacific march towards the mining camp, where according to the Ministry of Energy and Mining, there was going to be a high level multi sectorial commission. The community members have pointed out more than once that this was a sacrifice march, because it implied walking during several days through thick vegetation and in extreme climate conditions.
When they arrived to the mining camp on August 1st 2005, the community members were not received by the expected commission, but by a strong police contingent who repressed them brutally, firing tear gas from helicopters, firing against people, even when they ran away.
In these circumstances, 29 people, including two women and the journalist Julio Vázquez Calle, were intercepted and taken inside the mining camp. These they remained kidnapped during three days, besides being subjects of diverse forms of physical and psychological torture. As well as being wildly beaten, during those days, they were kept hooded with sacks sprayed with tear powder and blindfolded, with no warm clothes in spite of the low temperatures.
According to the community member’s testimony every now and then they were sprayed with a toxic powder in their faces, under the sacks and blindfolds, which made them vomit and did not let them breathe. The women were subject of diverse kinds of humiliation of sexual character. And all were threatened and humiliated verbally in many ways.
In October 2007 the North American Institution Physicians for Human Rights, (institution awarded with the 1997 Peace Nobel) carried out a specialized report to eight of the persons who had been tortured, corroborating the abuse suffered during their illegal detention.
The responsibility for these actions belongs to the diverse police officers from the National Police which took part directly in these criminal actions and against the security personnel of Majaz Mining Company which directly intervened in the facts. The tortures took place inside the mining camp.
In July 2008 the National Coordinator for Human Rights (CNDDHH) and the Ecumenical Foundation for Development and Peace (Fedepaz) presented a denunciation for these facts before the Fifth Criminal Provincial Attorney’s Office in Piura.
The denunciation considered the charges of kidnapping, torture and sexual crimes. Among the torture techniques included in the denunciation were aggression with tear gas, exposure to toxic products, subject to beatings, asphyxia, remain tied up and in forced positions during long periods of time, prolonged exposure to cold climate, deprivation to food and water and death threats among others.
Additionally the attorney that was present during the detention of the aggravated persons, Mr. Felix Toledo Leiva, has been denunciated for criminal complaint for omission of the exercise of criminal action, due to his complete knowledge of the abuse committed, and far from promoting a criminal action against the perpetrators, he denunciated the victims for their participation in the pacific march.
Also the doctor who examined the persons tortured has been denunciated for the crime of issuing a false medical certification; he did not leave proof of the torture signs presented.
The denunciation originated the investigation 214-2008 of the Fifth Criminal Provincial Attorney’s Office in Piura. To this day, the Public Ministry has been taking the statements to the aggravated persons.
Photographs of Horror
A few days ago, the National Coordinator of Human Rights had access to a set of photographs that, anonymously delivered, corroborates the alleged torture that in time was denunciated by the community members.
The photographs show diverse moments of the facts occurred in Majaz mining camp. In them you can see the things which were confiscated by the police from the demonstrators: clothes, food and kitchen utensils. By the way, there is not one single firearm, which credits the pacific character of the peasant march.
The images reveal, beyond any doubt, different signs of mistreatment in the community members that participated in the sacrifice march. Bloody bruised faces and with hematomas produced by the repressive action. Peasants with bare feet and unclothed torso, corned against each other, tied and blindfolded in the mining company’s slaughterhouse.
The images also show the peasants remained hooded in sacks which contained tear powder, which besides producing them severe burns did not allow them to breathe properly (according to the testimonies of the victims they where kept in these conditions during hours so they could not identify their captors nor their reclusion place). In these circumstances they were transferred to different places in the mining company facilities where they remained kidnapped.
The National Coordinator of Human Rights strongly condemns the action of torture and the acts of humiliation produced to the Ayabaca and Huancabamba peasants, which appear unquestionably accredited in the photographs we publish today. We call on the authorities to sanction with the full weight of the law those responsible of these abominable facts.
The death of Melanio
The sacrifice march against Majaz mining company also had the tragic result of the death of the peasant Melanio García.
The photographs published here exclusively, register Melanio Garcia, after the gun shot he received, still alive, on August 1st in broad daylight: in the photograph you can see the bandage covering the gun shot wound and the peasants expression of pain.
The circumstances of the death of this community member must be seriously investigated.
Above all, because from the post mortem examinations Melanio Garcia died… on August 2nd, of a hemorrhage caused by the gun shot wound. And because, besides, the photographs taken on August 2nd register the corpse of Melanio Garcia, who on that date was under police custody, in another scenario and in a different position (in the middle of the bush in dorsal decubite).