Poor women and indigenous discriminated against in Peru, says Amnesty


By Mario Sandoval

High mother and child mortality in rural areas.
(Photo: El Comercio)

Yesterday, Salil Shetty, secretary general of Amnesty International, alleged discrimination against indigenous peoples and poor women in Peru, says El Comercio.

"Although there are figures of declining mother and child mortality, these remain high for poor mothers and children in rural areas and also for pregnant teens," Shetty said during his first day in Peru. He is leading an Amnesty International delegation which will stay in Lima from Oct. 26 to 28.

"There is discrimination against indigenous peoples because the Amazonian indigenous peoples are not consulted when concessions in their territories are granted to oil and gas companies," Shetty said.

The activist also called for the cessation of police and judiciary persecution of indigenous leaders following last year’s violence in the city of Bagua, Amazonas region (northeastern Peru).

On June 5 and 6 2009, clashes in Bagua left 24 policemen and 10 indigenous people killed at the end of a two months strike of thousands of native Amazonians. The indigenous peoples were demanding the repeal of a series of legislative decrees that allow large mining and oil companies access to their lands. They considered them as harmful to their rights and intrusive to their ancestral lands.

Fifty indigenous leaders have been accused of killing the policemen and inciting violence, and the judiciary has called for their arrest.

Shetty said that as part of this visit, Amnesty International will also deliver to the Ministry of Health thousands of signatures calling for greater action to fight child mortality, "which remains high among the poorest."