Amnesty accuses Peruvian authorities of 'marked racist bias' in protest crackdown

Relatives and friends of victims of recent clashes with the Peruvian police -- within protests against President Dina Boluarte -- carry pictures of their loved ones during a march commemorating one month of their death on February 9, 2023, in Juliaca, Puno region.

(CNN)Amnesty International has accused Peruvian authorities of acting with "a marked racist bias" in its crackdown on protests that have roiled the country since December, saying "populations that have historically been discriminated against" are being targeted, according to a report released on Thursday.

Drawing on data from the Peruvian Ombudsman's Office, Amnesty says it "found that the number of possible arbitrary deaths due to state repression" were "disproportionately concentrated in regions with largely Indigenous populations."
Amnesty also says that areas with majority indigenous populations have accounted for the majority of deaths since the protests began. "While the regions with majority Indigenous populations represent only 13% of Peru's total population, they account for 80% of the total deaths registered since the crisis began," Amnesty wrote.
    The Ministry of Defense declined to comment on the report, telling CNN that there is an ongoing investigation being carried out by the country's public prosecutor office, with which they are collaborating.
      "Not only have we delivered all the requested information, but we have supported the transfer of (the public prosecutor's) personnel (experts and prosecutors) to the area so that they can carry out their work. The Ministry of Defense is awaiting the results of the investigations," the ministry's spokesperson added.
        CNN also reached out to the Interior Ministry, which oversees the police, for comment.
        The Andean country's weeks-long protest movement, which seeks a complete reset of the government, was sparked by the impeachment and arrest of former President Pedro Castillo in December and fueled by deep dissatisfaction over living conditions and inequality in the country.
          While protests have occurred throughout the nation, the worst violence has been in the rural and indigenous south, which saw Castillo's ouster as another attempt by Peru's coastal elites to discount them.
          "In a context of great political uncertainty, the first expressions of social unrest emerged from several of Peru's most marginalized regions, such as Apurímac, Ayacucho and Puno, whose mostly Indigenous populations have historically suffered from discrimination, unequal access to political participation and an ongoing struggle to access basic rights to health, housing and education," Amnesty wrote.
          Protests have spread to other parts of the country and demonstrators' fury has also grown with the rising death toll: As of Tuesday, at least 60 people have died in the violence, according to Peru's Ombudsman's Office, including one police officer.
          Castillo's successor, President Dina Boluarte, has so far refused to resign, while Peru's Congress has rejected motions for early elections this year -- one of the protesters' main demands.