A mission from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights will evaluate as of this Wednesday the impact on human rights of the political crisis in Peru. As explained by the UN human rights unit in South America to EL PAÍS, the team seeks to offer “concrete recommendations to the authorities to prevent future violations” during peaceful demonstrations such as those that the country has appealed since the removal of President Martín Vizcarra and avoid police abuse. On Saturday night, the repression of the security forces in the center of Lima against a protest left two protesters dead, 63 wounded that required hospitalization, a young man missing and a case of sexual violence. On Monday, the Ministry of Health reported that health personnel treated more than 200 injured people since that day.
The mission, headed by Jan Jarab, representative for South America of UN Human Rights, will arrive in Lima “as a result of the worrying situation in Peru” and after an invitation from the interim government of that country. The massive citizen protests began last Monday night, after Congress removed Vizcarra using the figure of the “presidential vacancy due to permanent moral incapacity” and based on an investigation for allegedly having received bribes – of more than $ 634,000 – when He was regional governor of the southern department of Moquegua in 2014.
The politician may have concluded his term in July while the investigation continued, but an alliance of parliamentarians has sought to remove him since September, when in the first attempt they did not get enough votes for it. One of the promoters of Vizcarra’s departure, Manuel Merino, the then president of Parliament, became interim ruler for six days. The protests against Congress were not carried out in support of the dismissed president, but against the questioned use of the motion to undermine the independence of the powers of the State and against the quality of education in the universities.
From the first day of youth demonstrations against Congress, the police harshly repressed people who carried placards, banners and the plastic horns. On the fourth day of the protests, the agents arrested 17 people and wounded the protesters and four journalists in the body and face with pellets in Lima. In a similar protest in Puerto Maldonado, in the Amazon region of Madre de Dios, another journalist was injured by law enforcement.
However, the worst bloodbath occurred on Saturday night. There were ambushes and attacks from a helicopter, in addition to pellets and tear gas. The UN Human Rights Office indicated to EL PAÍS that the observation mission “will meet with a variety of actors to gather first-hand information on the situation in the country, with an emphasis on human rights violations reported in the framework of protests. occurred in the last days ”. It also said that it will provide recommendations to the authorities “including the most recent international human rights standards on the right to peaceful assembly and use of police force.”
Denial of responsibilities
In the first appearance before the press since the police violence on Saturday, a spokesman for the National Police denied that there had been excesses in the actions of the agents. “It has been said that there has been police brutality, and we have already shown that there are no arbitrary arrests or disappearances,” said General Víctor Sanabria. However, the relatives of Gabriel Rodríguez Medrano, who participated in the demonstrations in downtown Lima, are still looking for him. While Francisco Sagasti took office as the new interim president on Tuesday, Luis Fernando Araujo, who had been kidnapped during the protests, was found alive. Araujo said that he was detained by a police group called Grupo Terna, which acted in disguise during the protests.
Regarding the excessive use of pellets, eye injuries, and the illegality of shooting glass bullets against the body, Sanabria pointed out that the responsibilities are “individual and very personal” and that they could not attribute to all the police “a possible isolated event ”. The press asked about the recognition of errors in the repression against the peaceful protest on Saturday, but the spokesman did not see it necessary, at least until the investigations of the Prosecutor’s Office are concluded. The excessive violence against the protests in Lima was not repeated in other regions of the country, where citizens had also demonstrated against Congress and the interim government of Merino.
Given that the protesters in Lima faced strong repression from the agents from the first day of the protests, they set up volunteer medical brigades to assist the wounded, who since Thursday have treated those injured or suffocated by gas, and transport the most serious to hospitals. Other youths obtained gloves to defuse tear gas bombs thrown by the police.
“I volunteered for a brigade because I am a front-line nurse and my husband has medical training. The politicians who took office in the interim government [de Merino] They do not know the needs of health workers and that worries me due to the pandemic. In addition, we feel that the requests made by the young people who protest are totally legitimate and the police repression is totally disproportionate, ”Heydi, 40, told this newspaper.