Published on War on Want
Today, human rights defenders from War on Want’s partner the Interinstitutional Platform of Celendin in Peru are facing court charges after opposing the large mining “Conga Project”. The World Bank and the mining company Newmont Plc are pushing to open new mining sites which will destroy four lakes, despite strong opposition from local communities.
Milton Sanchez, one of the community leaders accused, said: “The governors of Celendin and Sorochuco accuse us of entering their reunion and kidnapping them with knives, sticks and stones. This is completely untrue and they have absolutely no proof of it happening.”
Despite lack of evidence the Public Prosecution is still pressing charges. The 16 human rights defenders are facing three judges with high risk of being sentence for 30 to 35 years of prison.
The human rights lawyer, Mirtha Vaquez from GRUFIDES a Peruvian environmentalist organisation exposing large corporations destroying the environment and communities’ livelihoods, said: “16 people have been accused for participating in a public assembly to express their discontent against the mining project. They have been accused without any evidence. The Public Prosecution has delayed the process in three occasions. This has meant that the 16 people, including six women, have lost days of work and expenses but most importantly are under constant psychological pressure.”
“Some of the women who are still breastfeeding their babies are not allowed to enter the court room with their children, which means having to leave them behind when they travel to the hearings. The accused consider that this is criminalisation for their role in defending the environment.”
The human right defenders are asking people to monitor the ongoing proceedings and to call the Public Prosecutor to ensure that the process is fair.
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