A letter to the Chilean President on the Mapuche Political PrisonersTo Her Excellency Michelle Bachellet Jeria
President of the Republic of Chile
Palacio del La Moneda, Santiago, Chile
Since Monday 13th March the Mapuche Political Prisoners confined in Angol prison - Patricia Troncoso, Patricio Marileo Saravia, Jaime Marileo Saravia and Juan Carlos Huenulao Lienmil - have been on hunger strike with the objective of achieving a review of the judgement under which they were sentenced to 10 years and one day plus the payment of US $791,000 (423 million Chilean pesos) in compensation to the company Forestal Mininco.
The Mapuche community members highlight that the sentence imposed is based on an arbitrary judicial decision, which is racist in nature.
The aggravating circumstances that justify the arbitrary application of law N° 18.314 created by dictator Pinochet (called the ‘anti-terrorist law') in order to condemn a group of indigenous political activists demanding better living conditions and political rights as terrorists are inconceivable from an international perspective. The practice of charging somebody based on the testimonies of unidentified witnesses is also inconceivable within the framework of the Rule of Law.
For over a decade we have followed the course of events from Europe and on repeated occasions we have emphasised the total lack of political will on the part of the Chilean State in relation to the claims expressed by the Mapuche people. The Mapuche continue being the poorest social group in Chile. This antecedent highlights in what way the political indolence persists that has historically characterised the actions of the Chilean State in relation to the Original Peoples.
The arbitrary application of the anti-terrorist law against the Mapuche community members makes us conclude that Chilean justice is not neutral. Over recent decades the anti-terrorist law has been used exclusively to judge indigenous political leaders. The Chilean courts of justice apply a racist justice. Our conclusion is that in the political–juridical order imposed by the Chilean courts of justice, the political demands of the Mapuche peoples are conceived as a criminal act.
- We support the demands of the Mapuche Political Prisoners on hunger strike confined in Angol prison.
- We demand the review of the political judgement issued by the Chilean Courts of Justice.
- We demand the freedom of the Mapuche Political Prisoners.
Europe, 3 April, 2006
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- Sr. Rodolfo Stavenhagen. Relator Especial sobre la situación de los Derechos Humanos y las libertades Fundamentales de los indígenas: Oficina del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos, OHCHR, United Nations, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland.
- Sr. Pedro Vera. Oficial de Derechos Humanos para AMÉRICA Latina y el Caribe de la Oficina del Alto Comisionado para los Derechos Humanos: UNOG-OHCHR, CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland.
- Benita Ferrero-Waldner. Comisaría Europea de Asuntos Exteriores: Comisión europea B-1049, Bruselas, BELGIUM.