ESCR-Net members demand protection for woman human rights defender in Peru

Publish Date: 
Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Several members of ESCR-Net including Asociación Pro –Derechos Humanos del Perú (APRODEH), the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (comprised of FIDH y OMCT) and Amnesty International, among others, have denounced recent acts of harassment and intimidation against the human Rights defender, Máxima Acuña de Chaupe  and her family. Prior urgent appeals have also been issued by Front Line Defenders, Association of Women in Development (AWID), AIDA and several others. 

Mrs. Chaupe’s family lives in Peru, in Sorochuco, Department of Cajamarca, Peru, within the Conga mining project. Máxima Acuña, member of the Asociación de Mujeres en Defensa de la Vida (Association of Women Defending Life) serves as an emblematic representative of the struggle of communities affected by mining to defend their rights in the face of mining megaprojects such as Yanacocha and Conga, whose primary investor is US-based Newmont Mining Corporation, together with Peruvian company, Minas Buenaventura and the World Bank.

According to reports received, at 9:30am on February 2nd, armed security personnel from the Yanacocha mining company entered onto the lands (currently under litigation) of the family of Máxima Acuña de Chaupe and destroyed their potato crops which they produce for their own consumption. The family filed a complaint with the Public Ministry. Two days prior, on January 30, the family’s dog was wounded by a knife wound in its neck.    

ESCR-Net members maintain that these incidents are only the most recent in a series of earlier times when Máxima Chaupe has been subjected to intimidation. Aggression against her and her family becan on November of 2011 when the Conga mining company decided to enter their lands with machinery and attempt to destroy their home, claiming that they are the owners of the land. In that situation, it is reported that the family’s youngest daughter, Jhilda Chaupe, had to throw herself to the floor to avoid being struck by a steam shovel. She was allegedly hit on the head by a gun by a police agent and fainted for several hours. During efforts to defend her daughter, Máxima de Chaupe claims she was beaten on her arms and legs. Since this incident, harassment against the family has continued, unabated. In early January, 2015, more than 15 police agents reportedly entered their lands and proceeded to take photographs of the family’s house, while refusing to show legal documents that would have allowed this action. On February 3, 2015, at least 200 police people entered their lands to destroy an extension that they were building onto their house. Throughout 2014, Máxima de Chaupe reports receiving death threats over the phone, if she did not leave her lands.

The Chaupe family is currently involved in a legal dispute with the mining company regarding the ownership of the lands on which they have lived for more than 20 years. In recognition of the seriousness of the situation, on May 5, 2014, the Interamerican Human Rights Commission requested that the Peruvian state adopt precautionary measures to safeguard the life and physical integrity of members of the Chaupe Acuña family, which apparently has not been complied with.

The above-mentioned members of ESCR-Net urge the Government of Peru to carry out an inmediate, independente, exhaustive, effective and impartial investigation in to the recent incidents in order to guarantee that the responsible parties will be brought before justice and to take all necessary measures to guarantee the security and physical and psychological integrity of Mrs. Chaupe, her family and all human rights defenders in Peru. 

To sign a petition circulated by Amnesty International on the case, click here (in Spanish).

Photo credit: FIDH and