Preparation for the seizure of timber and of the sawmill in our community began at approximately 3.30am on 19th February 1999, when we began to observe movement of vehicles. The carabineros arrived at the Santa Rosa Estate at 6.00 am in order to protect the guards employed by the Miminco Forestry Company. A total of 300 police personnel took part in this action. They entered our community where they found the timber and sawmill, surprising three children and four adults who were guarding the sawmill located inside a small cabin. Straightaway the police forcefully arrested them without giving any reason for their detention. At the same time they confiscated various objects which they found inside the cabin including cushions, blankets and foodstuffs valued at 50.000 pesos. At the same time they also arrested Arnold Fuentes, a French citizen who had arrived two days previously. An alarming detail is that the children were shut inside a police vehicle and a tear gas bomb was detonated.
At the same time a group of 100 police broke into a house adjacent to the sawmill which belonged to a married couple, Germán and Adelaida Tranamil, who were with their three children aged 15, 14 and 8 years old. The police arrived at the house, breaking doors and windows without presenting an order authorizing their entry. We consider this a case of assault. The police destroyed everything which they encountered in their way including windows, doors, tables, lamps, and furniture. They confiscated a sum of money, totalling 500.000 pesos, which the couple had saved to pay for the education of the children. This money had been obtained a few days previously from the sale of a pair of oxen. The total amount lost, which will include the destruction of the home and its contents, is yet to be evaluated.
During this forced entry the police brutally beat the married couple and other persons present and with so many police involved it was impossible to prevent them breaking in. A number of neighbours, including Pascual Pinchun, Marina Pichun, Merejilda Pinchun, Aurelia Coilla and Maria Hueñir were violently assaulted for attempting to defend the couple and prevent destruction of their home.
At about 7.00 am the rest of the community became aware of what was happening because of the wild screams of those who were being arrested and beaten by the police. At this time the rest of the community joined forces and went to the scene with the intention of defending their neighbours and protecting the sawmill.
The villagers asked the police the reasons for the raid but instead of a reply they in turn were attacked and no official documents were presented as authorisation for the acts. While this was going, the guards employed by the forestry company, together with police personnel, seized the stocks of timber and the sawmill equipment using four heavy dumper trucks and JCBs.
In all these actions, the seizure of property and the attack on the community, the police acted in collaboration with the private guards employed by the forestry company. These latter carried firearms, sticks, stones and they had dogs. The combined forces of police and guards numbered 400 against total of 25 villagers. Official figures which give a total of 80 villagers are incorrect. Amongst the 25 Mapuche villagers were children, old people and grown men and women. None escaped the attack.
The people went on resisting in order to protect the sawmill equipment but the police and guards showed no hesitation in continuing their brutal attacks, using dogs and tear gas. The people had no option but to flee from the scene. They were pursued as they tried to seek refuge in the surrounding fields but since the aggressors were in the majority they continued their attack with bullets, tear gas and death threats. At 10.30am approximately the police and guards set the sawmill equipment alight but started two fires in the forest. The purpose of this was to put the blame on the villagers and so justify their action against the Mapuche community.
Sometime after 11.30am four helicopters and six light aircraft arrived to put out the fires and maintain observation. While they were extinguishing the fires they passed very near to where the villagers were still protecting the sawmill equipment. Our people were terrified, believing that they were about to open fire, spray us with toxic gases or drag us off for further beatings.
Despite this, many people continued to observe the actions of the police from a distance and saw the whole of the action in which those arrested were taken from the house which had been destroyed, namely Marina and Pascual Pichun, Merejilda Pichun, Aurelia Coilla, Maria Hueñir, Germán and Adelaida Tranamil.
Afterwards, those arrested were transferred to the hospital at Traiguen where their wounds were examined. They were treated in a racist and discriminatory way by the medical staff in contrast to the way in which police personnel were treated. At 1.00pm those arrested were transferred to the Third Police Station of Traiguen where they were again treated en a racist fashion by the Carabineros and called 'indian' together with similar insulting remarks. No reason for their detention was given and their rights as prisoners were not explained.
With respect to raids on the supposition of possession of firearms, we must make it clear that Mapuche communities have never possessed such weapons. This raid and all the repression directed against our people is directly related to the complete support which the government affords to large industries, in this case Miminco, to continue exploiting lands whose ownership is in dispute and to which our community has complete documentation over title deeds.
The purpose of this violent repression is to deny our communities their legitimate rights to recover the lands which belong to them. The forestry company is given every support to seize the timber and provide an opportunity for their guards to occupy the land. It must be remembered that these private guards carry firearms and that they attack the villagers with a variety of weapons. They demonstrate a racist attitude and they override the powers and functions of the Carabineros of Chile.
We also make it clear that the timber which was seized, a 200 metre stack, belongs to the community. It corresponds to the exploitation of a natural resource which, according to our official documentation, was awarded to us in 1930 by the Indian Court and which now the Mininco Forestry Company has seized illegally. Regarding the sawmill equipment which was seized, this is also belongs to the community. This is not illicit equipment since every citizen of this country has a right to access to a sawmill without need for special permission. It's only purpose is for small scale use of the type which is practised in our community.
NAMES OF THOSE ARRESTED: 14 MAPUCHES and 1 FRENCHMAN