BosNewsLife (01/20/06) – Members of an evangelical human rights group in Peru expressed worries about their safety Friday, January 20, after a European Parliament resolution demanding the extradition of former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori from Chile .
Fujimori has been accused of involvement in crimes against civilians, including massive killings and torture, charges he denies. He was arrested in Chile in November after he defied an international arrest warrant and flew from Japan to Chile , police said.
The evangelical organization Peace and Hope said it “welcomed” the EU resolution calling for his extradition, but also stressed it remained “concerned about a climate of increasing hostility” aimed at human rights defenders in that country.
“We welcome the European Parliament resolution and all efforts to bring Fujimori to justice but it is vitally important the EU continues to closely monitor the human rights situation in Peru and particularly pushes for the protection and welfare of legitimate human rights NGOs in that country,” added Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a partner of Peace and Hope.
Individual Christians are among those prosecuted on trumped charges of involvement in terrorism, human rights groups claim.
In addition “in the run-up to national elections in April 2006, a number of politicians have taken to publicly calling human rights [non governmental organizations] “supporters of terrorism”, and certain national newspapers have echoed those accusations,” said CSW.
“These accusations are extremely inflammatory in a country still recovering from 20 years of brutal acts of violence committed against civilians. These were carried out by both leftist guerrilla groups and the Peruvian state security forces,” CSW claimed. The remarks “caused a number of human rights workers” in Peru “to express fear for their safety and that of their family. A number have been the recipients of direct threats,” explained CSW, which is closely cooperating with Peace and Hope.
Evangelical groups like Peace and Hope as well as the secular organization Amnesty International are allegedly among those black listed by Peruvian media.
“We are extremely concerned for the safety of our partners in Peru as well as the many other organizations working to bring about justice and a respect for human rights in that country,” CSW Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas told BosNewsLife.
“We reiterate our staunch support for them and for their work. The work of these organizations plays an important role in ensuring that national reconciliation in Peru truly occurs and also in the establishment of a strong, functioning democracy.”
Mervyn stressed that it is “vital” for the international community to “send a strong message to all political candidates in Peru that this kind of rhetoric cannot be tolerated.”