Mar 28, 2008

Mapuche: UNHRC Urged to Send Mission to Chile

Active ImageSpecial Envoy Mr. Reynaldo Mariqueo has called upon the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to investigate Santiago’s damaging policies against Mapuche people.

Below is a letter presented to the UNHRC and released by Mapuche International:


Intervention by Reynaldo Mariqueo before the United Nations Human Rights Council


Human Rights Council

United Nations

7th Session

(Geneva, March 3-28, 2008)

Agenda Item No. 4, Debate


Document presented by the Society for Threatened Peoples


Mr. President,

The illegal annexation of the territory of the independent Mapuche nation, through a […] war waged by the States of Chile and Argentina between 1860 and 1885, produced a territorial conflict of grand proportions that continues to this day. It is a conflict that, thanks to new communications technologies, is known today throughout the world.

To halt the developing Mapuche movement, which fights peacefully for their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, as well as for the right to self determination and the development and recovery of their territory, the Chilean government has embarked on a repressive campaign that includes the use of social control methods […] This is expressed in the application of repressive laws and in the action of militarized police and private guards supplied with weapons of war, devices such as were used during the military regime of General Pinochet against all Chileans, but which the present government today applies […] against the Mapuches.

The criminalization of the Mapuche protests for the recovery of their territory and for the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms has meant the detention of hundreds of people, who are subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Others suffer the effects of police brutality, such as the loss of their sight and fractures in various parts of their bodies, while others have been assassinated, the most recent of which was Matias Catrileo, a 22-year-old student who was mortally wounded […] while he was participating in a peaceful demonstration. The police officer who committed the crime was detained for only a few days and has now been reinstated into the institution.

The use of the Antiterrorist Law gives special powers to the police and to judges, enabling them to keep suspects in preventive detention for long periods of time; Jorge Cadin and Ernesto Lincopan were declared innocent and freed after almost a year of incarceration. The application of the Antiterrorist Law and the lack of procedural guarantees and an independent tribunal have been condemned by all international human rights organizations and by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Issues, Mr. Rodolfo Stavenhagen, who, in his November 2003 report, made specific recommendations that the Chilean government chose to ignore.

We denounce the use of rural schools (located in Mapuche communities) by the police as interrogation centers for Mapuche children. Indeed, on June 18, 2007, the Collipulli police converged on the Villa Chiguaigue School to interrogate Mapuche children with the object of investigating their activities and those of their parents. Naturally, actions of this nature cause serious psychological trauma to the children, who are not provided with the professional attention that would permit them to overcome the trauma, and who as a result, refuse to go to the schools for fear of being detained.

What happened in this school is not the first such incident, nor is it an isolated case in the rural schools of the region, where this type of intimidating practice on the part of the police is common practice, flagrantly violating the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The other problem is the detention of minors for participating in demonstrations, many of whom are interned with adults and exposed to abuses such as those which happened to, among others, Jose Galvarino Lepicheo.

Due to time constraints, it is impossible for us to recount in a detailed way the dramatic situation of the Mapuche and the violation of their human rights and fundamental freedoms. Therefore, on behalf of these communities and organizations and Mapuche political prisoners, as well as organizations concerned with their situation (see list below), we are soliciting for the urgent dispatch to Chile of a mission or the visit of this Council's Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Issues in order to verify in situ the afore-mentioned reports.

Thank you, Mr. President.


Reynaldo Mariqueo

Mapuche Werken (Special Envoy)


Geneva, March 13, 2008



Mapuche situation - Additional Information:

We denounce the official policy of intimidation, which includes the encroachment of rural communities by the militarized police and by private guards, especially in those zones of territorial conflict between the Mapuche communities and forestry companies or landowners of large estates. This situation creates a climate of tension that restricts the free movement of the Mapuche in their territory and interferes with their daily work because they are continually subject to house searches and arbitrary detentions at any hour of the day or night by order of companies or landowners, terrorizing women and children in the process, as is happening today with the Temucuicui community.

The Chilean authorities do not respect the status of the religious authorities of the Mapuche people; they detain the machi (spiritual guide) and desecrate and destroy sacred symbols such as the Rewe (sacred altar). These acts occur regularly in various Mapuche communities. On December 26th [2007], the Rewe of the Machi Sonia Cheuque, located in Lleupeco in the Padres Las Casas district, was destroyed by police. On November 9th, 2007, the Machi Pascual Catrilaf was detained in his community by police from the 4th Commissary of the Neuve Imperial, located in Region IX; the police destroyed his Kultrun, sacred symbol of the machi. We ask that our religious authorities and the sacred character of their symbols be respected.

Moreover, organizations concerned about the environment have repeatedly denounced the disastrous effects brought about by the 17 water treatment plants in Mapuche communities and 28 landfill sites constructed by public and private entities. Experts on the subject indicate that these facilities do not comply with the necessary standards to avoid harm to the environment and to human health.


List of Advocates Who Support the Dispatch of a Mission to Chile:

Werken, Jorge Huenchullan Cayul, Temucuicui Community, Ercilla, Wallmapu

Lonko, José Osvaldo Cariqueo Saravia, Cacique José Giñon Community, Ercilla, Wallmapu

Lonko, José Diaz Toro, Leon Catrimil Community of Tricauco, Wallmapu

Waikilaf Cadin Calfunao, Juan Paillalef Community, Wallmapu

Lonko, Juan Carlos Curinao Rucal, Community, Huañaco Millao (Wallmapu)

Reynaldo Mariqueo, Mapuche International Link, (United Kingdom),

Jorge Calbucura, Mapuche Documentation Center, Ñuke Mapu (Sweden)

Miguel Utreras Imilmaqui, Center for Innovative Development (Norway)

Sara De Witt, Organization of Chilean Political Ex-Prisoners (United Kingdom)

Gaston Lion, Belgian-American Indian Committee (Belgium)

Marino Busdachin, The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), (The Netherlands)

Tomas Condori, Indian Council of South America (Switzerland)

Claudio González Penella, Indigenous Memory (Chile)

Jaime Valdés, International Defence Council for the Rights of Peoples (Switzerland)

Lazaro Pary, Tupaj Amaru Indian Movement (Switzerland)