Police Charged for Role in Bagua Massacre in Peru

Three senior police and army officers have been charged in connection with the deaths of 33 Peruvians during clashes between Amazon Indians and police in June 2009.

Violence erupted in the northern Amazonian town of Bagua, Peru, after months of unrest over the government’s failure to consult indigenous peoples about new legislation.

Indians feared the new laws would undermine their rights and make it easier for companies to take control of their territories.

Twenty-three police officers, five Indians and five civilians were killed and more than 200 injured during the protests, according to a report by Peru’s Ombudsman. Unofficial reports have claimed the death toll was much higher.

President Alan García, whose term ends later this year, has been heavily criticised for pushing ahead with controversial development projects despite opposition from Peruvian Indians.

More than 70% of the Peruvian Amazon has now been allocated to oil companies, and a series of hydroelectric dams threaten to displace tens of thousands of indigenous people from their homes.