Bolivia: Peaceful Indigenous Protestors Deserve Diplomacy, Not Violence

Target: Bolivian government

Goal: End violence and engage peaceful indigenous protestors with respectful diplomacy.

Recently, a group of peaceful indigenous protestors in La Paz, Bolivia were met with an unprovoked brutal show of force by Bolivian police. These unarmed citizens suffered powerful blasts from water cannons mounted on armored vehicles, agonizing eyefuls of pepper spray and suffocating explosions of tear gas.

This is an egregious violation of human rights and cannot be allowed to continue. Camped out to protest a proposed highway construction project through indigenous territory, these native Bolivians must be given an equal opportunity for mutual dialogue and a relevant voice in the fate of their land.

A group called the Ninth Indigenous March established the protest, a march from the Amazonian lowlands to the capital. After more than two months and 360 miles (580 km), the protestors arrived in La Paz, a solid 1,500 people hoping to persuade Bolivia’s president to put an end to construction plans.

Shortly after their arrival, a glimmer of hope surfaced as representatives from both sides reached an agreement to initiate a consultation process before moving forward. However, later actions by Bolivian police demonstrate what may actually have been an empty reconciliation simply meant to assuage the emotional indigenous parties momentarily.

One-sided brutality towards a group already marginalized, and largely voiceless, is a stark breach of human rights and an excessive use of sovereign power. The Bolivian government and the security forces it employs must immediately stop inflicting any such pain on peaceful indigenous peoples protesting in the capital. Sign this petition and urge Bolivia to instead carry out cooperative, peaceful dialogue, and reach mutual understanding before continuing development on indigenous land.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Government of Bolivia,

I am writing to insist that Bolivia’s government acts with dignity and appropriate diplomatic decorum when addressing peaceful indigenous protestors. The Ninth Indigenous March recently arrived in your capital city after a two-month-long trek and were ultimately subjected to a barrage of brutal dispersal measures.

Initially, they were welcomed and a breakthrough was made in an agreement for consultation between your government and indigenous coalitions in regards to the highway project through Isiboro-Sécure Indigenous Territory. Sadly, violent actions by police forces just several days later have destroyed much of the hope garnered from the fresh covenant.

Bolivia must afford these innocent individuals with an equal right to expression and assembly. They deserve nothing less than mutual cooperation and a genuine voice in the discourse that will profoundly affect their homes and their environment. Stop the unnecessary violence and embrace the indigenous protestors in meaningful, purposeful and mutually respectful dialogue before cutting through their native land.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

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