Centro de Documentación Mapuche Documentation Center

Resounding denunciation of Secret Shame of Mapuche persecution by the Chilean State at UN Human Rights Council

By Nina Dean* - 29th September 2009

A delegation of both Mapuche and European human rights campaigners this week delivered five consecutive addresses to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland in order to highlight the current territorial and human rights abuses of the indigenous Mapuche people residing in Chile. Though each respective NGO is allocate only two minutes respectively to speak in the forum, the delegation coordinated their message with maximum impact. Their statements were reinforced by that of Dannielle Mitterrand, wife of former French President Francois Mitterrand and President of the Mitterrand Foundation ‘France Liberte’.

The delegation included Mapuche community spokesperson (Werken) for Choin Lafkenche of Collipulli, IX Region, Victor Ancalaf Llaupe, himself a former Mapuche political prisoner, Andrea Marifil, (niece of currently detained Chief (Lonko) Juana Calfunao) currently living in exile in Switzerland, Werken Reynaldo Mariqueo of Mapuche Human Rights Committee, Nina Dean of Mapuche International Link and Ronald Barnes on behalf of the South American Indian Council.

Dannielle Mitterand vehemently denounced the brutal human rights violations issued by the Chilean State against the Mapuche people in order to criminalise their democratic rights using the cruel application of anti terrorist law condemned by the international fraternity solely against peaceful democratic Mapuche protest. She stated that she herself had visited Chile and had witnessed at first hand the human rights abuses which were systematically denied by the official Chilean delegation during the course of the Council’s 12th session.

For Werken Victor Ancalaf Llaupe, this was a long awaited opportunity to expose his experiences on the world stage, in the presence of the international community in order to bear testimony to the gross and inhumane treatment which he underwent at the hands of the Chilean State. Victor Ancalaf was tried and incarcerated under Chilean anti terrorist law between 2002-2007, for which he served a sentence of five years and one day; reduced following his initial sentence of ten years and one day, for a crime that he did not commit. Of primary significance in this case is the fact that Victor Ancalaf continues to live under the threat of death following public death threats announced to the Chilean media by right wing paramilitary extremists affiliated to local Chilean landowners. Mr Ancalaf and his family continue to be monitored and intimidated by the Chilean State despite serving the full extent of his sentence. This in contrast to the protections enjoyed by Chilean landowners who when under threat of attack enjoy the full protection of the Chilean police service, including a round the clock residential police guard.

Whilst the Chilean State maintained a policy of silence in the wake of the condemnations of the international fraternity during the section reserved for the right of government to reply, they did however comment at a later date on the general situation of the Mapuche. However their overall summary in response to the serious allegations made against them was characteristically non respectful and dismissive, denying all evidence of any wrongdoing or injustice. In this respect the government send a very clear message to the Mapuche Nation and all Mapuche who have been and continue to be violated by its cruel and repressive policies, that it intends to persist in its disregard for their people, their human rights and fundamental freedoms and their right to future self development enshrined in international law.

Whilst today in the Wallmapu (Mapuche ancestral territory) currently illegally annexed by the Chilean and Argentinean States, the Mapuche Land rights crisis intensifies. The Chilean state continued refusal to respect the rights of the Mapuche people and their claim to ancestral territories should lead to further bloodshed, suffering and loss of life is an alarming reality that requires urgent attention. The stark polar contrast between the government’s whimsical commitment to valuing the Mapuche people their culture and identity cannot be further from the reality at this moment in history.

(*) Vice Secretary, Mapuche International Link