Dozens of police officers raided a university in Lima on Saturday, smashing down gates with armored vehicles, firing tear gas and detaining more than 200 people who had come to participate in anti-government protests in the Peruvian capital.
Images showed dozens of people lying face down at San Marcos University after the police raid. Students said they were shoved, kicked and beaten with batons when they were forced to leave their dorms.
The police raid on San Marcos University — the oldest university in the Americas — is the latest in a string of insults that have sparked growing protests against President Dina Boluarte in six weeks The riots claimed 60 lives and then stepped down, leaving at least 580 injured and more than 500 arrested.
Peruvian authorities on Saturday ordered the closure of the Inca citadel at Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail leading to the World Heritage archaeological site “until further notice” amid demonstrations and roadblocks that paralyzed much of the country. There are more than one million visitors every year.
Rescue teams evacuated more than 400 tourists stranded at the iconic site on Saturday, Peru’s tourism ministry said.
“This afternoon, 418 domestic and foreign tourists were transferred from the town of Machu Picchu to … Cusco,” the ministry’s Twitter account posted, along with photos of the train and passengers.
The demonstrations, which began in early December in support of ousted former president Pedro Castillo, have turned overwhelmingly into calls for Boluarte’s resignation, a shutdown of Congress and fresh elections. Boluarte was Castillo’s vice president and replaced him after he tried to close Congress and rule by decree on Dec. 7.
Many of those arrested in Saturday’s raid traveled from southern Peru to the capital to take part in a demonstration last Thursday dubbed “Takeover Lima,” which began peacefully but was met with stone-throwing and chaotic crowds Engaged in ongoing fighting between protesters and riot police. tear gas.
in the statement Twitterthe Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called on the Peruvian authorities to “ensure [police] Due Process Intervention and Safeguards”. It underscores the importance of the presence of prosecutors, who were not present during the first hours of the raid.
Students living in dormitory buildings said they were forcibly evicted from their rooms by armed police who broke into the door and kicked and punched them out.
Esteban Godofredo, a 20-year-old political science student, was treated for a leg injury. “He hit me with a stick, then threw me on the ground and started kicking me,” Godofredo said, sitting on the grass outside his home with a badly bruised and bandaged right calf.
Video seen by the Guardian showed confused and terrified students, some in pajamas, gathered outside their halls as riot police yelled orders and insults. Young men were forced to stand against a wall or kneel in a row.
“They pointed guns at us and yelled, ‘Get out.’ We didn’t even have time to get our ID cards,” said Jenny Fuentes, a 20-year-old trainee teacher. “They forced us to kneel. Many girls were crying but they told us to shut up.”
“They didn’t tell us why we were kicked out of the room,” she said. About 90 students who remained on campus to work and study during the summer were then taken to the main courtyard, a 10-minute walk away, where others were detained.
Hours after the attack, they were still not allowed to return to the room searched by police.
“I was a student at San Marcos [University] We haven’t experienced anger like this since the 1980s,” said Congresswoman Susel Paredes, who was blocked from entering campus by a police cordon.
“The police entered the university dorms, the rooms of female students who had nothing to do with the demonstrators. They threatened them and took them out of the room while they were sleeping.”
Paredes said it was reminiscent of routine police and armed force raids on public universities in the 1980s and 1990s, when campuses were seen as hotbeds of subversion during the state’s conflict with Mao-inspired Shining Path rebels .
“We are not in that era, we should be under a democratic government that should respect fundamental rights,” Paredes said.
AFP contributed to this report