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Mapuche Chief Juana Calfunao will speak both in London and Bristol

Dear Friends, 

Mapuche International Link have the pleasure of inviting you to our public meetings with Lonko (Chief) Juana Calfunao. The Mapuche Chief will speak about her endangered community, the Mapuche people of Chile and Argentina and their struggle for survival within these states. As a result of her campaign for human and land rights, as well as fundamental freedom for the Mapuche people Chief Juana Calfunao has been the subject of a persistent political persecution both under the Pinochet dictatorship and under the current democratic Chilean government. Public meetings will take place both in London and Bristol at the following venues.

London Meeting
18:00 –19:30
Thursday 3rd November

Amnesty International UK
The Human Rights Action Centre
17-25 New Inn Yard
London EC2A 3EA
Map and directions: http://www.amnesty.org.uk/amnesty/nationaloffices/hracmap.shtml

Bristol meeting
19:30 – 21:00
Friday 4th November

Friends Meeting House,
126 Hampton Road,
Bristol BS6 6JE

All are welcome. For further information please contact: Reynaldo Mariqueo
(mapulink@aol.com ; Phone: 0117 927 9391; Movile: 07854 659 666) .

More information about Chief Juana and her campaign below.

Leader of endangered indigenous community in Chile to address audiences in London on development and human rights issues

Bristol-based Mapuche International Link is delighted to welcome Mapuche chief, Juana Calfunao from Chile to address audiences in London to gain international support for her endangered community.

The Mapuche people, an indigenous community of Chile and Argentina, are being forced off their ancestral lands by logging companies and rich landowners long for take over Mapuche land into their massive privately owned estates.

For years, the Mapuche people have been subject to threats, intimidation, verbal abuse and physical attacks, while their traditional culture is being systematically eroded.

Increasingly portrayed as “terrorists” by the mainstream press, the Mapuche's complaints are disregarded by the Chilean justice system. Yet despite the increasing number and ferocity of the attacks, not one criminal prosecution has been made. Chief Juana Calfunao's own home was burnt down three times in separate arson attacks; her seven year old daughter was lucky to escape with her life in the latest attack.

Following peaceful protests, Mapuche leaders are now being held in prison under “anti-terrorist” legislation first introduced by the infamous Chilean dictator, General Pinochet.

Amnesty International, The International Federation of Human Rights, Human Rights Watch and the World Organization Against Torture have all drawn up reports expressing their concern and/or have made recommendations to the Chilean authorities pertaining to the so-called “Mapuche conflict”. For his part, Mr Stavenhagen, the Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Issues of the UN Human Rights Commission, has made specific recommendations after having observed first-hand the dramatic situation facing Mapuche communities and their leaders during his visit to Chile.

In a letter addressed to the Chilean Government on the 19th July 2005, Mr Stavenhagen reiterated his concern at the “disproportionate indictments hanging over the traditional authorities (Chief Pascual Pichún and Chief Aniceto Norín) considering the acts with which they are charged under the current Penal Code. ”He also warns that such gaps between the nature of incidents and the sentences sought to punish them could be interpreted as an “act of persecution of the Mapuche social movement in the country”. Just like the use of anti-terrorist legislation in the context of the Mapuche conflict. The Mapuche authorities referred to by Mr Stavenhagen were acquitted for the second time by a Chilean tribunal on the 22nd July this year, but as happened previously, their imprisonment continues nonetheless.

The Chilean Government has ignored the concerns of the international community and far from seeking a just political solution and responding to the demands of Mapuche communities, it has responded with indiscriminate oppression and the application of repressive legislations.

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