Peru judge overturns order kicking out British activist

14th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

A Peruvian judge on Tuesday overturned an expulsion order issued against British environmentalist Paul McAuley, who the government says is behind Indian protests in the Amazon region.

Judge Maria Chirinos Maruri in Maynas, in the northeastern Amazon jungle region of Loreto, ordered the government of President Alan Garcia to "halt the acts that create obstacles or disturb the ... right of free transit" of McAuley, 65.

Chirinos ruled that McAuley has the right "to not be kicked out of the country or prevented from entering national territory," court spokesman Aldo Atarama told AFP.

Last week Judge Alexander Rioja agreed to suspend McAuley's expulsion order, issued by the Interior Ministry, pending a resolution of a habeus corpus appeal.

McAuley, a member of La Salle Christian Brothers, has been living in Peru for 20 years defending environmental and indigenous people's rights in the Amazon region.

The government accused 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."

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.

Indigenous groups said that government measures threaten their way of life by opening the Amazon rainforest to foreign oil and mining companies and other commercial interests.

In an earlier interview with AFP, McAuley has said his protests were 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.

"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," he told AFP.

At least 34 people were killed in violent June 2009 Amazon Indian protest in the city of Bagua against decrees on land ownership in the Amazon river basin. McAuley was not directly involved in the protests.

© 2010 AFP

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