LIMA, March 11 Anti-mining activists have filed
a complaint with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
accusing Peru's government of rights abuses during protests
against one of Latin America's biggest mining projects, a
protest leader said on Monday.
The legal move could further stall efforts to revive
U.S.-based Newmont Mining Corp's $5 billion Minas Conga
project, which President Ollanta Humala's administration put on
hold last August following months of protests in the northern
highland region of Cajamarca.
Ydelso Hernandez, who leads a group of peasant farmers
opposed to the mine, said a group of lawyers would travel to
Washington next week to address the human rights body about the
suit, which was filed last year.
"We filed the lawsuit because the state -- in using
repression and abuse to put down the protests against the Conga
megaproject -- violated the rights of peasant and indigenous
groups," Hernandez said on Monday.
Five protesters were killed in Cajamarca in clashes with
police last July. [ID: nL2E8I5DV4]
Humala's administration has blamed "extremists" for stirring
up unrest and inciting violence for political gain.
It is unclear when the commission, which is part of the
35-member Organization of American States (OAS), could decide on
whether it would consider the case.
The regional government of Cajamarca, which has been active
in leading protests, would also join the lawsuit, said Segundo
Matta, an adviser with the Cajamarca government.
Farmers say they fear the project will cause contamination
and ruin water sources essential to their agricultural
Newmont has said it is building water reservoirs for the
community and that the mining project itself -- essentially an
expansion of the Yanacocha mine in Cajamarca -- won't go forward
without local support.
Mining Minister Jorge Merino said late last year the project
"must go forward." [ID: nL1E8NKASG]
While Humala has been in power, at least 24 people have died
in social conflicts. Human rights groups have pressured him to
stop security forces killing protesters.
Newmont could not be reached for comment on the filing on