March in Temuco calls for the government to heed demands of prisoners on hunger strike

In several cities across the country public demonstrations have been held demanding that Mapuche political prisoners are freed, given a proper trial and demanding the end of the use of the Anti-Terrorism Law. In Temuco many denied accusations from the police who claimed that those on strike had consumed food.

By Elías Paillan – Temuco, Wallmapu – 02/08/2010

With various cries and banners alluding to the hunger strike which Mapuche political prisoners are carrying out in various prisons throughout the Mapuche homeland, a demonstration took place today in Temuco convened by political prisoners’ families.

Present at the demonstration was Juan Traical, brother of one of those on strike. He stated that they were asking the Chilean state "to no longer apply the Anti-Terrorism Law and to bring to an end the carrying out of unseen trials." He added that until now nobody in authority had given any consideration to these demands.

In turn the leader of the Museum of Mapuche Art in Tempuco, Rayen Kvyen, expressed his presence was “due to the situation of the Mapuche political prisoners and also to protest that the Chilean State has on the whole denied the Mapuche people their land rights."

Also present was Catalina, sister of Matías Catrileo, who acknowledged the help of over 250 people and indicated that it was only right that all Mapuche people help the cause of the 31 people on hunger strike who have just reached their 22nd day without food.

Already in front of the offices of the Court of Appeal on Prat St in the centre of the regional capital, voice was given to the statement signed by those on strike who stated that "we Mapuche political prisoners want to convey the fact that in these 22 days we continue to keep going with the same belief in the worthiness of the cause of the fight of our Mapuche nation."

We are reminded that their demands include “the ceasing of the application of Anti-Terrorist Law 18.134 to the cause of the Mapuche territorial conflict, that the right to a proper trial is respected in order to prove our innocence, freedom for all Mapuche political prisoners, an end to deceitful civil military prosecutions, the untenability of Judge Lautero, an immediate end to the imprisonment of protected witnesses, and the demilitarisation of the communities caught up in land disputes."

They also denied the police accusations made in the Austral newspaper that claimed those on strike had eaten, "this is absolutely false, we vehemently continue the hunger strike, we believe that this accusation has been made to tarnish our campaign and to discredit the Mapuche movement, but those who attempt to do so will not achieve their goal," they said in their statement.

The communities of Los Ríos

In traditional Mapuche dress members of the Los Ríos and Los Lagos communities marched through the centre of Valdivia in support of Mapuche political prisoners, and in particular in support of Andrés Gutiérrez Coña, incarcerated in the city's prison and having been on hunger strike for 2 weeks. According to his spokeswoman Mónica Navarrete Raillanca, the campaigner is already showing signs of serious health problems.

In turn, Francisco Raín, community representative from Puerto Montt, stated to La Radio that this march was being held to show condemnation of what amounts to savagery against indigenous people. Meanwhile Amanda Huichalaf, from the Osorno community, expressed that it is urgent that the Mapuche people unite in rising up for their land rights.

Meanwhile, those people who put their lives on hold in order to take part in the protests stated that the demands of indigenous people were reasonable. The march started in the city's bus station and finished on the outskirts of the River Valdivia, and passed off without incident apart from a few traffic jams. There are hopes for a similar demonstration this coming 18th of August.

Regional mobilisation

Demonstrations in the Victoria region over the weekend added to those taking place in Wuerere Bajo, belonging to the Mapuche Land Alliance, who mobilised to carry out the recovery of land from the Los Aromos estate, whose proprietor is Leonardo García, uncle of the wife of the provincial governor of Araucania, Andrés Molina, according to Radio Biobio.

Horacio Cole, leader of the aforementioned community, asserted that the lack of dialogue from the government regarding the land problem is forcing people to mobilise and to protest. At various points access roads have been blocked, and from a distance remain vigilant border guards. Meanwhile, members of the Lafkenche community from the Budi coastal region also announced their mobilisation in demanding land, adding that they will fight until they reach a dialogue with the government.

Source: Azkintuwe

Translated by Lucy Harding



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