Mapuche: Campaign In Support Of Political Prisoners
A campaign declaring solidarity with 33 detained Mapuche hunger strikers has
attracted substantial local and international attention to the Mapuche
Press release issued by the Mapuche Solidarity Collective – Unceded Coast
In a declaration of solidarity with 33 detained Mapuche hunger strikers
whose current medical status is of grave concern, the Mapuche Solidarity
Collective – Unceded Coast Salish Territory has joined the International
Campaign in Support of Mapuche Political Prisoners and, we are inviting
community activist from the Vancouver and surrounding areas of the Lower
Mainland and all those concerned with the rights of indigenous people , to
attend a demonstration in front of the Chilean Consulate (located at 1185
West Georgia St., Suite 1610 – Vancouver, BC) to formally declare our
opposition to the Chilean government's continued application of Pinochet-era
anti-terrorism legislation against Mapuche democratic protest. The event,
which will involve the presentation of a letter to the Chilean Consul in
Vancouver, will take place on Thursday, September the 2nd at 12:00 (Noon).
The demonstration will denounce the deteriorating health of the political
prisoners, some of whom have been on hunger strike since July 12th, 2010.
Originally, the Mapuche protest broke out in response to the refusal of the
Chilean authorities to recognize both the human rights of the detainees and
the essentially political nature of their indictment and detention. Although
news coverage of the action has been severely curtailed by a government
‘blackout’, the hunger strike has already inspired Mapuche communities in
cities across Chile to take to the streets to declare their support.
There has also been a growing interest in the international campaign which
has undoubtedly been encouraged by the open criticism of the Chilean
authorities by international bodies. The widespread and inappropriate use of
anti-terrorist law 18.314 has therefore been highlighted by both the Ethical
Committee against Torture and the UN Human Rights Council.
In this sense, the neat demarcation which could be drawn between the
Pinochet regime and its civilian successors is misleading, precisely
because, under this law – which was first enacted by the dictatorship -
defendants are subject to dual trial by military tribunals and civilian
courts – for this reason, amongst others, the distinction between ‘military’
and ‘civilian’ rule is nowhere as clear as it should be, a conclusion which
is further reinforced by a petition addressed to Sebastián Piñera, the
current President of Chile, demanding that the ‘use of militarized violence
against communities, young people and the elderly must stop’.
The Mapuche struggle – of which the prisoners’ strike is only the most
recent manifestation – is the latest chapter in a story which began with the
campaign of genocide which was launched against the indigenous population in
1863-1883 (in the form of the Araucanian Pacification). The Mapuche have
since struggled against the results of a ‘settlement’ which was imposed upon
them by force.
We call upon both the Chilean government and the international community to
instead work towards a settlement founded upon respect for basic and
fundamental rights, whether human, political or cultural. For this reason we
call upon the Chilean government to:
* Repeal the anti-terrorism law.
* End the institutionalized violence.
* Ensure guarantees of due process for Mapuche political prisoners who
are currently incarcerated.
* Repeal the method of ‘double simultaneous trial’ before a military
tribunal and civilian court.
* Implement political and territorial rights of autonomy and
The Mapuche are an indigenous nation which straddles Southern/Central Chile
and Argentina. Their population is estimated at two million. They are the
only indigenous nation from South America whose sovereignty and autonomy
were formally recognized during the Spanish conquest of the continent. To
this day, the Mapuche continue to struggle against the repression of their
legitimate cultural and territorial rights by the Argentinean and Chilean
Mapuche Solidarity Collective – Unceded Coast Salish Territory
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