Mapuche Hunger Strikers Abandoned in Wake of Bicentenary Fiesta

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Mapuche Hunger Strikers Abandoned in Wake of Bicentenary Fiesta

Press Release
– 20th September 2010

As the international community anxiously observe the rapidly diminishing health status of 35 Mapuche political prisoners on hunger strike (day 71), global media and international human rights organisations report’s, repeatedly denounce the Chilean government’s apathetic and irresponsible stance. Meanwhile prior to the bicentenary weekend, 39 MEP’s conveyed urgent letters to the President of Chile, appealing for a swift resolution to the issue, in order to avoid a tragic loss of life.

Mapuche envoy’s last week presented a resolution to the European parliament, whilst the EP has since dispatched a fact finding delegation to the region in conflict.

During continuous global and national demonstrations in support of the strikers, 4 Chilean MP’s and over 14 community members also joined the hunger strike. A further Mapuche delegation including two Mapuche Werken (envoys) attended the United Nations Human Rights Council, 15th session with the intention to make interventions over the next week, set to urgently alert the humanitarian body to the imminent yet avoidable loss of Mapuche life.

Amidst the Chilean bicentenary celebration, following the Chilean administration’s announcement of a specially extended bicentenary holiday, President Piñera announced on Saturday, “I will not enter into dialogue with the Mapuche hunger strikers until such time as the party is concluded.” However during a catholic ceremony the following day in honour of the Bicentenary, the President stated that “the strikers have chosen the wrong path”, as such he maintained ‘that he will not in fact speak to the striker’s but only to ‘non-militant’ Mapuche whom he claims are ‘truly representative of the Mapuche nation’. However contrary to the presidents propagandist and manipulative rhetoric the entire Mapuche nation are in full consensus with the historic demands of their brothers on hunger strike; therefore one can only speculate with whom the president believes he will be seated at a dialogue table, in the absence of authentic Mapuche authorities.

The Catholic Bishop of Temuco, Manuel Camilo Vial, reiterated the government party line in stating that “we have to stop the process of adoption of society of systematic use of violence by other actors outside our reality.” The Catholic Church in fact owns a significant tract of Mapuche ancestral land in the Temuco region which in the past few days was actively recuperated by a group of Mapuche families.

As Saturday’s fiesta moved into full swing the President’s degrading, inhumane and insensitive comments were cause for great lament for the families of the dying hunger strikers and the Mapuche nation, who have in the last week been repeatedly rallied to hospitals due to symptoms of heart failure; in this context the premiers sentiments can only serve to damage the already fragile trust building process that could lead potentially lead to reconciliation and the preservation of lives.

Equally, the premier’s comment’s further compound the injury to mind, body and spirit, synonymous with the pillaging of Mapuche ancestral territory, the living body that is for the Mapuche, ‘Nuke Mapu’ (mother earth) and her indigenous inhabitants.

As a means of restorative justice and equality for the Mapuche currently living under a racist, discriminatory Chilean State law that has led to 35 vibrant and healthy Mapuche individuals to have no alternative but to seek recourse to such extreme measures in order to attain their fundamental rights in the absence of alternative avenues to justice the strikers call for an end to the militarisation of Mapuche regions, end to the application of Anti Terrorist law to Mapuche, end to simultaneous trials in both civil and military courts for civil crimes, freedom for all Mapuche political prisoners, end to the use of use of anonymous witnesses in Mapuche trials and restoration of Mapuche ancestral territory.

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