IACHR CONDEMNS VIOLENCE IN BOLIVIA
Washington, D.C., September 15, 2008 — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States (OAS) emphatically condemns the serious acts of violence reported in some areas of eastern and southern Bolivia in recent days, which have caused deaths and injuries and placed democracy and the human rights of all Bolivians at risk.
The Commission learned that on September 11, 2008, groups of individuals, with the apparent encouragement of the Prefecture of the department of Pando used violence to try to block a meeting of indigenous people and campesinos, reportedly leading to the death of at least 30 individuals. These events were preceded by other acts of violence in Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni, and Chuquisaca which, according to the information received, reportedly were encouraged and spurred on by the Departmental Prefectures and Civic Committees in these areas. These events led to the sacking and takeover of various national public institutions, such as the office representing the Presidency in Santa Cruz, the National Tax Service, the National Institute for Agrarian Reform, State-run Channel 7, and the National Telecommunications Company. Sacking was also reported with respect to some civil society organizations that work on behalf of the rights of indigenous peoples and campesino communities in the department of Santa Cruz, such as the Center for Legal Studies and Social Research, the Center for Campesino Research and Promotion, and the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia.
The IACHR urges the State of Bolivia to adopt the necessary measures to guarantee the rights of persons under its jurisdiction, through effective and reasonable prevention mechanisms. It also urges the State to undertake a diligent investigation of the facts and to punish, in accordance with the law, those responsible for the murders and acts of violence against individuals and public and private property. The Commission also urges the departmental authorities to adopt immediate measures to bring about an end to the violence. The IACHR issues a vigorous call to respect the rule of law and democracy and to facilitate the necessary mechanisms to investigate and punish those responsible.
The IACHR also expresses its concern over the possibility that the sacking and takeover of the National Institute for Agrarian Reform could hamper implementation of programs designed to end the state of bondage analogous to slavery suffered by some captive Guaraní families in the Bolivian Chaco, a situation verified by the Commission during a visit from June 9-13 of this year.
The IACHR applauds the progress in the dialogue begun between the government and the National Democratic Council, which brings together representatives of some of the regions in conflict. The Commission supports this initiative and calls on all of the actors to become involved in seeking a peaceful solution.
To suscribe to the IACHR press release mailing list, please type your e-mail address in this form.