The internationalization of the Mapuche conflict

Violation of human rights in Chile

By Reynaldo Mariqueo * – October 24, 2009

The latest projects announced by the Government of Chile to create a Ministry for Indigenous Affairs, Indigenous Development Agency and a Council of Indigenous Peoples (initiative taken at the end of his presidential term) seems, on the one hand, be an attempt to bring Chile international standards concerning indigenous rights and thus show something concrete in line with the promises contained in the Council of the UN Human Rights. Furthermore, the Government promises to try to stop far from being concretized, the unstoppable process of mobilization of the Mapuche people for the recovery of their rights. It is unfortunate however, that such measures have been taken without consultation or partition of indigenous peoples and thereby breaching Article 6 of ILO Convention 169, an international instrument ratified by Chile recently.

Between 4 and 15 May this year, the Chilean government presented its National Report to the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review Human Rights Council of the UN, held in Geneva. In this Report the Government had to answer a series of questions or having to explain the expressions of concern from 51 countries, thirty of which referred specifically to the human rights situation of the Mapuche people.

The working group examined the performance of Chile’s international obligations and explanations issued in the government report did not convince the international community to rise to new questions that otherwise were again exposed by non-governmental organizations during the course of the session Human Rights Council was held in Geneva from 14 September to 2 October 2009.

The National Report was presented by José Antonio Viera Gallo, Minister Secretary General of the Presidency of Chile, who headed a delegation composed of 24 bulky members to support the version of the government report. The spokesman noted that since 1990, the country embarked on the "reconstruction of a democratic system based on respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights, including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights".

Image: Adriana Loncomilla Machi (Mapuche spiritual leader) was found on October 16, 2009 moored on the ground after being beaten by police during a raid on their community José Guiñon (region of Araucania). Beside her were her children crying bitterly. The father and Lonko Jose Cariqueo had been arrested along with his son Matthias, just 13 years old.


Photo: Courtesy Eugene Carinae Reiman
Caravan for Life Blog

Of the thirty countries that had expressed concern to the Chilean government and even puzzled by the violation of human rights of the Mapuche people, we can highlight, among others, Sweden whose question could not be clearer: Could the Government of India to give details on its position on the legal protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms of members of indigenous groups? For its part Germany, expressing his dismay at finding that the "ancestral lands" are still threatened by forestry expansion and megaprojects in infrastructure and energy "and advised the government to" streamline procedures for the recognition of their ancestral lands. While the United Kingdom of Great Britain asked: What is Canada doing to improve living standards among the indigenous community and people living in rural areas?

This demonstrates the international significance that awakens the ongoing conflict in the Wallmapu, that despite the sympathy that exists in the world by the advent of democracy in Chile, not stop them from criticizing human rights violations. It is also indicative that the continued reporting of Mapuche communities and organizations located in the Wallmapu and abroad, has not been in vain. It also demonstrates the effectiveness of NGOs such as the UNPO, OMCT, FIDH, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Citizens’ Observatory, among many others, continually echoed the plight of repression that affects the Mapuche people.

Mapuche Committee members based Human Rights in Europe and the Mapuche International Organization of England managed to coordinate their interventions with the Human Rights Council to try to cover as many matters which now forms the Mapuche people’s concerns and that contradicts the report of the Chilean Government ridiculously optimistic.

Nina Dean of Mapuche International Link focused his speech to economic development and in the Mapuche political prisoners, noting that his status is not recognized by the state that "in order to achieve its objectives [the State] perpetuates a strategy of violent repression against the Mapuche denying them their human rights, civil, political and land rights "and added that" at present there are 37 Mapuche political prisoners, many prisoners accused of violating anti-terrorism law for protesting the illegal occupation their ancestral territory. "The latest bout of violence of state, was the recent death of an unarmed Mapuche, Jaime Mendoza, who was shot in the back while fleeing police during one such protest.

About Nina Dean economic development, said: "The State of Chile supports the large-scale commercial activities within the Mapuche territory in the area of mining, forestry and agriculture without consultation with the Mapuche communities" ended his speech saying: "that the Mapuche nation, not opposed to development, by contrast, the Mapuche strongly advocate sustainable development as a cultural ethic that have successfully practiced for hundreds of years."

The personal testimony of Victor Ancalaf, former political prisoner Mapuche let it clear that the implementation of the antiterrorism law is not respected due process and constitutional guarantees, a motif that sentenced him to five years and one day the presumption of a crime he did not commit and declare that: "Despite having served a wrongful conviction in January 2007, still under surveillance by law enforcement of the Chilean state and threatened with death by paramilitary commando Trizano, meaning in fact a continuous intimidation for myself and family. Even my minor children have been threatened recently, in our own homes ".

Ancalaf also noted that: "The application of repressive laws, particularly those introduced during the military dictatorship, widely questioned by the international community, gives free rein to arrest, property searches and irregular processes that have repeatedly been condemned in this forum. The repression has led to the militarization of Araucania whose outcome has occurred in the past six years, six Mapuche killed. "

Meanwhile Ronald Barnes of CISA (Consejo Indio de Sud America) referred to international treaties concluded by the Mapuche nation with Spain and the republic of Chile. "These treaties are the root of disputes and conflicts that converge in the arrest and detention although [the Mapuche] raise their demands for a nonviolent manner, "he concluded his speech" calling on Chilean government to consider fully their dealings with indigenous peoples, in particular its commitment to treaties with the Mapuche people. "

Marifil Andrea highlighted the police brutality, concern expressed by a number of countries calling upon the Chilean government to investigate cases of torture and punish those responsible "are common during raids of indigenous communities, many of which are performed without a warrant, the Chilean police committed all sorts of harassment and intimidation against the villagers. It is and has been the norm for the police to inflict cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees and whether it committed during the dictatorship or democracy. "

Considering that the Chilean government will continue applying the Terrorism Act and the military courts against defendants Mapuche Marifil Andrea, said "it is essential to consider the recommendation of the Czech Republic and practice specific education on human rights officials gendarmerie, including public safety. "

Reynaldo Mariqueo exposed the genocidal policy of the Chilean government declared as a united country, is basically denying the existence of peoples as the Mapuche, who have their own peculiarities. By promoting cultural uniformity based on a European ethnocentric view, the government seeks to perpetuate a policy, exclusionary and genocide, aimed at exterminating the existence of the Mapuche people through the process of assimilation and, therefore added, "The state Chile is committed to strip the Mapuche cultural identity and ways of life, by denying the right to the source of their existence-their ancestral lands-source from which it emerges and feeds on their culture, identity and spirituality. "

Referring to the various policies and development projects in Mapuche territory, Mariqueo commented that, "Indigenous peoples, particularly the Mapuche people are rarely consulted on matters that concern them, whether this in development projects or infrastructure. There in the province of Arauco without completed 650 projects promoted by the government institution Origen, because these projects are unfunded. "It should be noted queel Origins Program was created by the Government through an agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in order to improve living conditions and promoting development with identity of indigenous peoples in the rural area ", as indicated in the aforesaid Government National Report to the HRC.

Daily raids in Gulumapu
Child Felipe Marilla (ten years old) injured during the police raid Mapuche community Temucuicui October 1, 2009 (region of Araucania).

In summarizing the content of the National Report as recommended by the HRC should be "based on objective and reliable information," left much to be desired. During the closing remarks and after hearing the interventions of governments and NGOs Chilean Ambassador Carlos Portales had to spend almost half their time to indigenous issues, in an attempt to clean up the government. For human rights NGOs who have been monitoring the situation of Mapuche, many of which have sent delegations to verify in situ the complaints received, the ambassador’s statements could not prove them, most shameless, who tried to deny the undeniable, the state that from 1999 to 2009, was applied only twice the Terrorism Act "to persons of indigenous origin".

For the Mapuche is clear that the Democratic Government pursues a repressive policy dictated by the landowners and the benefit of powerful companies based in the Araucanía, which together have a strong media campaign designed to demonize the Mapuche people’s just struggle for their rights . As a result of continuous raids communities there, killed and tortured in militarized regions, there are now hundreds of Mapuche detained or prosecuted, thirty of them convicted or charged with contravening the Terrorism Act, and those from non-Mapuche were implementing that law, was or is to support the Mapuche struggle.

The fact that today exist in a democracy political prisoners, prisoners relegated (notorious practice in time of military dictatorship) and Mapuche have requested political asylum is a clear demonstration of the effects of the government’s repressive policies. This is compounded by the lack of credibility in the rule of law Chilean activists pushing required by the "justice", opt for hiding because they know that Chile does not respect rights to due process, and because there are no impartial court and independent to guarantee them a fair trial.

(*) Werken Mapuche (special envoy)
In the European Union




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