Solidarity and Support for political prisoners from the Mapuche Nation
Europe, December 2003
Recently, the "Chilean Commission on Truth and New Deal" released a report in which it acknowledges the extinction of Indigenous Peoples by ethnocide. The Report also notes the risk of extinction of the Kawesqar and Yagan people which proves that the threat of extinction of the entire Indigenous population of Chile is still feasible.
A decade has gone by since the promulgation of law number 19.253 of 5 October 1993 on the Protection, Promotion and Development of the Indigenous people of Chile, following the Pact of the New Imperial (1/11/89). We can, however, note that the Indigenous Population of Chile is and will be subject to the interests of transnational capital. According to the report by the "Chilean Commission on Truth and New Deal", the interpretation of the Law on Indigenous People by the representatives of the Chilean State shows that the priority and interest given to the demands of Indigenous People is determined by the transnational companies that are active in Chile. This commission places the system of Indigenous reservations and the division of territory before any Mapuche demands. Imposing these juridical and territorial conditions is a colonialist tactic, and as such, is not a feasible solution.
After nearly three decades of successful economic growth in Chile, it is possible to conclude that the social project and in particular the so-called "progress" proclaimed by the economic and political elite produces neither social welfare nor democracy. The free market and democratisation it seems are incompatible. Neoliberal structural adjustment has given new life to the uneven distribution of income and wealth, and indigenous people fare worst of all.
Hydro-electric dams, landfill sites and roads have been built across sacred areas of Mapuche land, logging rights to native forests have been granted, and Mapuche land has been given away to forestry companies and salmon farms, all of which proves that the Chilean state does not intend to guarantee the integrity of Mapuche ancestral lands nor the defence of Indigenous people's rights.
The pillaging of natural resources which transnational companies are carrying out with the blessing of the Chilean state is creating misery and substantial deterioration of the environment in Mapuche areas. Any attempt by residents to overcome the misery that they have been subjected to is met with political repression. The repression and persecution of anyone actively demanding better living conditions, justice and freedom for our people, is evident.
Hundreds of Mapuche go through Chile's civil and military courts for cases related to the recovery of ancestral lands, and more than ten Mapuche political leaders are currently in prison. In all these cases the Chilean courts of justice selectively apply the political-juridical body handed down from the military dictatorship - the national security law and the anti-terrorism law.
A year ago, our brother Edmundo Lemun - a 17-year-old young man - was murdered by a Chilean police officer. The Chilean Court Martial threw out the case, considering shooting an unarmed young man as an act of self-defence. Once again the Chilean courts are guaranteeing impunity of the military and the police.
In the last few months, hundreds of Mapuche have been tried and sentenced to long prison terms. There are currently several political prisoners on hunger strike.
Pascual Pichun and Aniceto Norin, Mapuche Lonkos (Mapuche Chiefs) were condemned to a 5 year gaol sentence for the crime of "terrorist threats". Because of this flagrant legal abuse, on 7 October they began an indefinite hunger strike.
Since 3 November another Mapuche Lonko, Jose Cariqueo, has also been on an indefinite hunger strike. He is on trial for "illicit terrorist association".
Since the advent of "democracy" the National Security and Anti-terrorist laws have only been applied to Mapuche people. The representatives of the Chilean state are trying to use political repression and mistrust of the legal system to sow the seeds of fear, throwing our leaders and traditional authorities in gaol. It is their intention to imprison a people, a culture and an identity. In the El Manzano high security prison in the city of Concepcion, two of our most prominent Mapuche political leaders, Jose Huenchunao Mariñan and Victor Ancalaf Llaupe, are serving a sentence for "illicit terrorist association".
As Mapuche people living in Europe, we are calling on human rights organisations, on any organisation that gives solidarity to indigenous people, on political organisations and on civil society, to speak out in defence of Mapuche political prisoners and support our people's struggle for justice and freedom.
We would like you to contact the Chilean authorities listed below and demand that they respect the status of their political prisoners in accordance with international guidelines, in particular those laid down in the Interamerican Convention to Prevent and Sanction Torture, and the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Please stress that you are demanding unconditional respect for international human rights obligations, and that the demands of the political prisoners on hunger strike are heard.
For further information please contact: