Aug 19, 2010

Mapuche: Second Wave of Global Protest in Support of Hunger Strikers

A second wave of global protests in support of Mapuche political prisoners and hunger strikers took place today.


Below is an article published by Mapuche International Link:


A second wave of global protest was initiated by the families of Mapuche political prisoners and hunger strikers on Weds 18th of August. The worldwide protest took place in the following countries, Chile, Argentina, England, France and Norway amongst numerous others.

In London a demonstration of solidarity with Mapuche hunger strikers took place in front of the Chilean embassy and was a well attended and peaceful event.  Amongst its supporters were UK based NGO, Mapuche International Link, the Association of Chilean ex- political prisoners in the UK, Colombian Solidarity Campaign, Latin American Coordination, Memoria Historica, and many independent pro-Mapuche sympathisers.

In Temuco, Chile, peaceful demonstrations were again disrupted by unsolicited violent police repression against the Mapuche supporters. The protest was marked by 56 arrests, including that of Catalina Catrileo sister of Matias Catrileo a Mapuche youth previously murdered by Chilean police during a peaceful land rights demonstration.

The hunger strike initiated on the 12th July 2010, planned to highlight the current human rights breaches against Mapuche ancestral land rights activists using the application of internationally condemned anti-terrorist law against them. This law was initially introduced under the former Pinochet dictatorship as a tool with which to neutralize democratic dissent and today is applied solely against Mapuche and their supporters in tandem with the militarization of Mapuche traditional communities as a means of silencing their just democratic territorial demands.

The health of the hunger strikers who today entered their 37th day of a liquid protest is reported to be in serious jeopardy as they exhibit symptoms of heart failure, e.g. visual disturbances, nausea, dizziness, disorientation and stomach cramps.  Reports also state that some prisoners have lost ‘between eight and eleven kilos in weight.’ Of further concern to their families has been the denial of medical care for the prisoners, leaving them at increased risk to serious health conditions by withholding possible life supporting medical interventions.

In a global act of unity with the Mapuche hungers strikers and political prisoners, the demonstrators demand that the Chilean government negotiate with the political prisoners, repeal the anti-terrorism law, end the system of simultaneous trials before a military tribunal and a civilian court, ensure the observance of due legal process, and end the militarization of Mapuche traditional regions.

MIL general secretary Reynaldo Mariqueo heading the UK protest remarked that “the universally accepted standard for democratic rights and civil liberties remains denied to the Mapuche Nation by means of shrouding the routine application of illicit and inhumane policies against the indigenous people”.  He further stated that “the use of media blackouts is a standard exercise used to maximum effect by the Chilean State, therefore this type of high profile global support is of fundamental importance, in fact it is a crucial lifeline to the still suffering Mapuche.”