The recent incidents of violence in Bagua, Peru are "but one instance of a series of government actions to abrogate the rights of the indigenous peoples of the Peruvian Amazon over land and resources", said the World Council of Churches (WCC) General Secretary, the Rev Dr Samuel Kobia in a 9 June 2009 letter to President Alan García Pérez.
Expressing "deepest concern over the loss of life and violent displacement of the indigenous Awajun and Wambis peoples in Bagua", Dr Kobia urged the Peruvian government to order the "immediate cessation of violent repression against indigenous people" and the launch of a "meaningful dialogue" in order to "peacefully and justly resolve the conflict".
After several weeks of protests by indigenous peoples in the Amazonian region over government plans for gas and oil exploration on what they consider to be their ancestral lands, clashes between protesters and police took place in the town of Bagua Grande on 5 June. Some 30 protesters as well as about 24 police officers have been killed, according to reports.
In his letter to García, Kobia deplored the "government's inability to resolve the conflict" by peaceful means. He also repudiated the violence and called for "an independent internationally led investigation" and expressed alarm about "reports of attempts to dispose of the bodies and cover up the true extent of the loss of life".
According to the WCC General Secretary, the "attacks in Bagua contravene the spirit and letter of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the provisions of international law".
The full text of the WCC General Secretary's letter to the President of Peru can be read here: http://www.oikoumene.org/?id=6852