A symbolic vigil in solidarity with the Mapuche indigenous people was held yesterday August 12, 2010, in front of the Embassy of Chile in the United States.
The protest was part of the Global Day of Action for the Freedom of the Mapuche People, or International Day of Solidarity with the Mapuche Political Prisoners.
A dozen people gathered at this protest, to demand the government of Salvador Pinera to respects the human rights of Indigenous Chileans and their imprisoned leaders, who begun a hunger strike a month ago and now several of them are in a delicate situation.
The government of Chile has jailed 31 Mapuche leaders who were arrested for demanding the rights of their communities. They are accused of terrorism based on an outdated law created during the bloody dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.
The struggle of the Mapuche people is mostly against the invasion of their territories by private corporations, which cause pollution and other abuses. It also includes the demand for autonomy and self determination.
This strong Indigenous movement is commonly repressed by the Chilean State through the use of militarized violence, affecting even the elderly and children, and causing civilian deaths.
This is a press release by the organization Mapuche International Link explaining the nature and reasons of the current Indigenous uprisings in Chile:
Campaign in Support of Mapuche Political Prisoners Gains Momentum
Press Release - August 11th, 2010
In a declaration of solidarity with 31 detained Mapuche hunger strikers whose current medical status is of grave concern, Mapuche International Link's (MIL) General Secretary, Reynaldo Mariqueo, will lead members of a delegation including Ms Jimena Castro and Mr Roberto Navarrete - both of whom are members of the Association of Ex Chilean Political Prisoners -to formally declare their opposition to the Chilean government's continued application of Pinochet-era anti-terrorism legislation against Mapuche democratic protest.
The event, which will involve the presentation of a letter to the Chilean Minister Counsellor at the Chilean embassy tomorrow and is timed to commemorate the ‘International Day of Solidarity with the Mapuche Political Prisoners on Hunger Strike’ on 12th August.[...]
The Mapuche struggle – of which the prisoners’ strike is only the most recent manifestation – is the latest chapter in a story which began with the campaign of genocide which was launched against the Indigenous population in 1863-1883 (in the form of the Araucanian Pacification). The Mapuche have since struggled against the results of a ‘settlement’ which was imposed upon them by force.The vigil was interrupted by a torrential rain. There was a presence of about six U.S. Secret Service agents.
We call upon both the Chilean government and the international community to instead work towards a settlement founded upon respect for basic and fundamental rights, whether human, political or cultural. For this reason we call upon the Chilean government to:
The Mapuche are an indigenous nation which straddles Southern/Central Chile and Argentina. Their population is estimated at two million. They are the only indigenous nation from South America whose sovereignty and autonomy were formally recognised during the Spanish [invasion] of the continent. To this day, the Mapuche continue to struggle against the repression of their legitimate cultural and territorial rights by the Argentinean and Chilean authorities.
- Repeal the anti-terrorism law.
- End the institutionalised violence.
- Ensure guarantees of due process for Mapuche political prisoners who are currently incarcerated.
- Repeal the method of ‘double simultaneous trial’ before a military tribunal and civilian court.
- Implement political and territorial rights of autonomy and self-determination.