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July 12, 2009

Peru Massacre: A Poem of Commemoration ~ James Pliny.

James Pliny, a U.K. based poet, acknowledges the recent, tragic violence in northern Peru where policemen and an unknown number of indigenous people were killed following peaceful protests against the government.

The protests were centered around the repeal of the Law on Forestry and Wildlife and the Law on Water Resources, decrees 1090 and 1064. This illegally implemented government decision opens the Amazon to increased mineral, oil, gas and timber exploitation in areas where indigenous Peruvians rely on the natural resources to survive.

Under both Peruvian and U.N. laws of protection for Indigenous people, it is required that any regulation that could affect their communities must be negotiated first with those affected communities. [Peru’s] President Garcia imposed [the repeals] in order to satisfy the requirements of Peru’s Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. (www.workers.org)

Pliny’s poem, “They Came”, criticizes the failure of people to speak out against the genocide of indigenous peoples around the world. It is an acknowledgment of what has happened in the past, and offers a call to thought and action for preventing it from happening in the future.

“They came”

First they came for the tribes’ land,
said it was empty and stole it,
but we did not speak up because we were not tribesmen,
and our laws encouraged it.

Then they came for what was under the tribes’ land,
said it was rich and dug it up,
but we did not speak up because we were not tribesmen,
and our economy needed it.

Then they came for the tribes’ culture,
said it was primitive and destroyed it,
but we did not speak up because we were not tribesmen,
and our own culture confirmed it.

Finally, they came for the tribes themselves,
said they weren’t real people and killed them,
but still we did not speak up because we were not tribesmen,
and our science proved it.

There was no need to come for us
because we were on their side.

No longer!
Now we will speak up!

via the author:

I’m a UK-based poet. This poem commemorates the recent, tragic violence in northern Peru where policemen and an unknown number of indigenous people were killed following peaceful protests against the government.

The poem criticises the failure of people to speak out against the genocide of indigenous peoples around the world. I offer it as an acknowledgment of what has happened in the past, and as a call to thought and action for doing what we can to stop it from happening in the future.

The poem, ‘They came.’ is a re-working of a poem with the same title, attributed to the German pastor Martin Niemoller.

Kind regards,

James Pliny

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