Rubén Guevara is one of the young survivors of the police violence against the protests last Saturday in the center of Lima that rejected the transitional government of Manuel Merino for compromising the separation of powers in Peru. The protester, wounded in the cheekbone by the impact of the pellets and a detached retina from the splinters, said on Wednesday that the doctor from a public hospital who treated him wanted to make him sign a document in which he acknowledged that he had injured himself. "He told me to sign, sign: I will give it to the prosecutor," Guevara denounced at a press conference. He further stated that when he was injured – and he thought he was losing his sight – he asked the police for help to transfer him to a hospital, but they were denied. "I am a father of a family and I am scared of what may happen to me," he said.
Guevara's testimony about attempts to erase evidence or to accuse citizens of crimes coincides with that of other injured during a demonstration of tens of thousands of young people baptized as the Bicentennial Generation on Saturday in Lima, which left some 200 injured. This is what the lawyer Mar Pérez, from the National Human Rights Coordinator, a civil society organization assures: "They are not isolated events, the versions coincide."
Walter Matos, lawyer for Inti Sotelo, one of the two twenty-somethings who died from gunfire by the agents, requested the relief of the director of the National Police and the head of the Seventh Lima Region "so that the investigations are properly carried out." Pérez revealed that there is "a strategy for impunity" on the part of the National Police of Peru, since there are at least five cases of injuries caused by glass balls, a type of projectile not authorized in the forces of order.
“They are going to say that (the protesters) have shot each other or that they have been infiltrated, but there is too much evidence, they should recognize what they have done,” Pérez said. The lawyer for the human rights NGO alludes to the hundreds of videos recorded by the protesters themselves, some spread on social networks such as TikTok or Instagram, or sent to relatives via WhatsApp at the time of the attack on Saturday night.
In the recordings, police officers are seen firing their shotguns at close range at people who were carrying cardboard signs, water bottles or were wrapped with the Peruvian flag as if it were a cape. Elizabeth Rodríguez, the mother of 26-year-old Luis Alejandro Aguilar, injured by a projectile in one of the lungs on Saturday, told EL PAÍS that the doctors have told her that they extracted a marble from her son, but they showed him an image of a square shaped object. “I would like to see what was removed from my son's lung. Not even animals are treated like that, ”added Rodríguez.
Luis Alberto Suárez, brother of Lucio Suárez, another of those injured by several pellets in the skull and chest, said that he spoke for the first time on Tuesday with his hospitalized relative because he could not speak before. “He told me that if the police had wanted to reduce him, they could have shot him in the lower part of the body, but they did so above. What I ask for my family and everyone's families is justice ”, affirmed Suárez.
Adverse legal framework
The lawyers of the relatives of the deceased and the National Human Rights Coordinator warn that the investigations into the responsibility of the Peruvian police in these human rights violations are taking place in a favorable legal context promoted by the previous Parliament and endorsed by the current, in which several legislators are retired military personnel. The rule that Congress approved a year ago eliminated the principle of proportionality in the use of force by law enforcement officers. At that time, human rights organizations called for its repeal, but the current Congress promulgated it because the Executive did not examine the proposal.
In addition, Rocío Meza, Luis Araujo Enriquez's lawyer, who was kidnapped by police officers without uniform since Saturday night after participating in the protests, asked that the Terna Group of the police, which camouflaged itself in civilian clothes, be deactivated among young protesters to arbitrarily detain them.
“They identified themselves as Terna policemen (the Urban Operational Tactical Intelligence Unit of the Police), they detained him, covered his eyes, put him in a vehicle, and beat him. He was in an environment where there was a chair and a kind of bathroom, they had him for three days without water or food, they made him hear the voice of his mother (who was looking for him): that is torture ”, described Araujo's lawyer.