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Father Marco Arana

Father Marco Arana of Peru, a human rights defender who was honored by Cinema for Peace in 2011, was beaten up and arrested by police officers while sitting peacefully on a bench in the Cajamarca's main square. Videos and photos taken on the scene show the police forcing Father Marco to the ground and dragging him off by the neck. He was then taken to the central police station where he was again beaten and refused communication with his lawyer.

Father Marco managed to send a Twitter message from inside the station, saying: "They detained me and they beat me a lot. Inside the station they continued to beat me, punches in my face, kidneys, insults."

Marco and other regional leaders have declared an indefinite state-wide strike against the proposed 'Minas Congas' gold mining-project, which would destroy four sacred lakes in the province of Celendin. The government of Peru declared a state of emergency in the region, suspending civil liberties, after 3 protesters were killed and at least 20 people wounded during a violent encounter with police.

Chief local prosecutor Johnny Diaz said Father Arana was arrested for organizing meetings, an activity prohibited under the state of emergency. Marco was released on the following day, under investigation for inducting criminal offense and not respecting the state of emergency in Cajamarca.

It was the second emergency declared in five weeks to suppress anti-mining protests. A 30-day emergency had just failed in Espinar, where two people were killed May 29 while protesting against a copper mine.

'Minas Congas' is a massive expansion project owned by Yanacocha, South America's largest gold mine, located in Cajamarca province. Yanacocha is owned by Newmont of Colorado and Peru's Buenaventura with minority shares held by the World Bank.

In 2004, Father Marco was awarded Peru's most prestigious human rights award and in 2009 he was declared an 'Environmental Hero' by TIME magazine. Nevertheless, Marco's defence of farming and indigenous communities has also earned him powerful enemies. In 2006, he and other Peruvian activists were victims of a spy-ring called 'The Devil Operation'. One of Marco's main farming allies was assassinated and Marco and other activists were harassed, photographed and videotaped.

Determined not to be victims, the activists launched a counter-espionage campaign, and captured two of the spies, along with photos, videos and detailed reports of the operation. This evidence became the basis for 'The Devil Operation', a documentary that has won several awards, including the 'International Human Rights Film Award'  by Amnesty International and  Cinema for Peace  in 2011. In solidarity with Marco, the director Stephanie Boyd has put the film “The Devil Operation” for free public viewing online.



"The Devil Operation", by Stephanie Boyd - Full Movie



"Choropampa, The Price of Gold", by Ernesto Cabellos and Stephanie Boyd - Trailer