Peru tells British activist he can stay
A Peruvian judge Wednesday ruled that British activist Paul McAuley can stay in the country, one week after the government ordered him to leave for stirring unrest, a court official told AFP.
McAuley, 65, who has been living in Peru for 20 years defending environmental and indigenous people's rights in the Amazon region, told AFP he felt "greatly relieved" by the judge's decision.
The member of La Salle Christian Brothers appealed an interior ministry expulsion order that gave him one week to leave the country -- with a July 8 deadline -- for engaging in "activities of a political nature."
The director of an Iquitos-based non governmental group dedicated to upholding the right of indigenous people, McAuley also anchors a radio program in the Loreto region. He has led many demonstrations against mining and lumber concerns in the region.
He told AFP by telephone he did not understand the government's expulsion order "after so many years of transparent work in Loreto."
"I feel I've committed my whole life in Loreto and I would like to stay here until the end. We've got to continue defending the rights of the jungle and its inhabitants. I'm grateful for the support I've received."
On Tuesday, thousands of people marched in Iquitos against McAuley's expulsion, including several human rights groups.
McAuley's lawyer Constante Diaz said the courts now have two months to respond to his client's complaint against the government, saying that it violated his constitutional rights.
The government accuses McAuley of "participating in different activities of a political nature, such as protest marches against environmental pollution in Iquitos and against the Peruvian state, as well as other activities disrupting public order."
McAuley insists his protests are not directed against the Peruvian state, but only "to defend indigenous people and natural resources against illegal concessions" granted mining and lumber companies in Peru's jungle region.
© 2010 AFP