Solidarity organisations express concern on the repression against Juan Paillalef Mapuche Community

Europe, 23 October, 2006

The Hon. Michelle Bachellet
President of the Republic of Chile
La Moneda Palace
Santiago, Chile

Dear President,

We write to you specifically regarding the Juan Paillalef Community.

We represent a number of human rights, social and cultural organisations in Europe and North America. We are concerned at the political persecution of members of the Juan Paillalef Mapuche Community, located in the Municipality of Cunco, IX Region.

A conflict that was created between 1860-1883 by the Chilean State when, in contravention to national and international laws and treaties, it violently annexed the territory of the independent Mapuche Nation, still remains unresolved.

Furthermore, it concerns us that your Government does not take constructive steps to resolve the economic, social and cultural grievances that land dispossession has caused for the Mapuche people.

On the contrary, in addition to this injustice, which has resulted in neglect, poverty and destitution, the Chilean Government has now embarked on a campaign of political and criminal persecution of all those leaders seeking the restitution of their land illegally taken; with the consent of local Chilean authorities, by large land owners, and forest and logging companies.

We regret your Government's failure to respond to calls by international human rights organisations on the issue of the Mapuche people; and the contravention of international covenants that protect their rights, with your failure to ratify Convention 169 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on Indigenous and Tribal People. It is also unfortunate that your Government does not publicly support the "United Nations declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples" that should be adopted throughout the current session of the UN General Assembly.

We also bring to your attention the irregular legal process that affects Mr. Waikilaf Cadin Calfunao, of the Juan Paillalef community, who was arrested arbitrarily on 17 August 2006. His arrest came after his community attempted to prevent the widening of a road, forest logging, and the installation of light poles - a total of 20 - that Frontel SA had placed there without the consent of Lonko Juana Calfunao, the Mapuche authority.

Mr. Waikilaf was arrested without charge and with no bail. While in jail he has been subjected to cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment by police. On 8 October, Mr. Waikilaf started a hunger strike in protest against his continued imprisonment, seeking justice and a just outcome to the issues affecting his community. On 17 October, Mr. Waikilaf was suddenly transferred to Santiago , located 800km from Temuco , his ancestral land. By this action the authorities are attempting to prevent visits by Mr. Waikilaf's family, in reprisal against campaigns by his mother and the Community denouncing his treatment in jail and seeking his release.

This is an insensitive action and a systematic repression by the regional authorities against the Juan Paillalef Community.

Furthermore, we are outraged at the role played by the judiciary who, in view of the considerable amount of evidence, the crimes committed by the police and the land owners in the immediate vicinity, chooses to prosecute the victims and not the criminals.

A brief history to injustices perpetrated against this Community:

1. Chief (Lonko) Jose Luis Paillalef died in Valdivia Prison as a result of beatings by police and land owners.

2. Mr. Paillalef's family home was set on fire and two of the children died, with Mercedes and Jose Paillalef surviving .

3. Mercedes Paillalef (daughter) became the community's Lonko. In 1973, under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, she was charged and jailed as an 'extremist' for seeking land rights.

4. On 12 May 2000, Juana Calfunao, the current Lonko of Juan Paillalef Community, was arrested and beaten up by Temuco police, causing a miscarriage. Her husband and son Waikilaf were also arrested and prosecuted at the time. Lonko Calfunao pressed charges against the police; no action was taken and the case remains in the archives of the Military Prosecutor of Temuco.

5. On 23 December 2005, Lonko Calfunao was arrested, together with her sister Luisa. They were beaten; the horse Lonko Calfunao was riding was shot, her house was raided and a number of work tools were taken.

This was as a result of her protesting against the illegal expropriation of community land for the construction of a road by Seremi, (the Chilean Public Works agency). Lonko Calfunao was released by Magistrate Luz Madariaga due to the visibility of her injuries following police violence, and to the illegal raids carried out in the absence of an official police warrant including the confiscation of tools. The Magistrate ordered defence lawyer Mauricio Torres to investigate the bruising to Lonko Calfunao's face and body, thus far with no results.

6. On 4 January 2006, Lonko Calfunao was once again arrested, in similar circumstances as those above. When police Captain Cristian Alarcon saw her, he commented: "in my hands again you f****** indian." Alarcon, together with four other policemen, removed her clothes, hit her, verbally abused her and humiliated her. Only after that were female police officers called in, inline with appropriate legal administrative procedures.

Lonko Calfunao submitted an official complaint against the criminal action of the police, with no results. The Public Prosecutor pressed charges and Lonko Calfunao was sentenced and jailed for 19 days for Public Nuisance and Threats to Police.

On 14 November 2006, Lonko Calfunao must appear in Court again to respond to the afore-mentioned charges. This is indeed constitutes an aspect of political persecution of Mapuche leaders.

Lonko Calfunao's home has been burnt down in arson attack on three occasions. On one of these occasions, on 26 June 2004, her uncle, Lonko Basilio Conoenao, died. The Department of Public Prosecution has failed to press charges for any of these crimes, while Lonko Calfunao's complaint against paramilitary groups in the area remains in the archives of the Chilean Courts.

In view of the above, we urgently seek an investigation and that those responsible are brought to justice.

The following signatories support the view of the World Organisation Against Torture, which demands:

That adequate measures be taken to guarantee the physical and psychological safety of Waikilaf M. Cadin Calfunao and of all members of his family, in particular Lonko Juana Calfunao;

Yours faithfully


Reynaldo Mariqueo
Mapuche International Link - United Kingdom

Sebastian Sepúlveda
Asociación Cultural Mapuche
Con personalidad Jurídica en Gotemburgo, Suecia

Violeta Valenzuela
Mapuche International Link - (Italian section)
violeta.serena@ fastwebnet. it

Millaray Waikian
Organización Aukin wenteche - Suiza

Gaston Lion
Comite Belga - America India

Mario Agreda
Consejo Indio Exterior - España
pindios@telefonica. net

Alvaro Flores
SUBTERRA - Bélgica
subterra01@yahoo. fr

Irene de Bruin
Mapundial - Holanda
mapundial@yahoo. com

Tom Kucharz
Ecologistas en Acción
Alianza Española contra la Pobreza
eea_comisioninterna cional2@yahoo. es

Jaime Valdes
Defensoria Internacional de los Derechos de los Pueblos (DIDEPU)

Jorge Aruetrich 
Comité Suisse de Soutien aux Chagossiens (CSSC).
jorgehw@chagos. org

Tomas Condori
Consejo Indio de Sud America (CISA)
tcondoi@puebloindio .org

Néstor Vega Salazar
Asociacion Tierra y Libertad para Arauco
nesvega@yahoo. fr

Carlos Pilquil, Armando Navarrete
Coordinadores, Comité de Apoyo al Pueblo Mapuche, Montreal

Walter Deucaman 
Coordinador, Comité de Apoyo al Pueblo Mapuche, Toronto

Cecilia Aguilera
Coordinadora, Comité de Apoyo al Pueblo Mapuche, Winnipeg

Victor Gavilan
Coordinador, Comité de Apoyo al Pueblo Mapuche, Calgary

Dionicio Barrales 
Coordinador, Comité de Apoyo al Pueblo Mapuche, Edmonton

Asociación Embajada Cultura Mapuche en Europa
Primera sede en Gotemburgo, Suecia

Grupo de solidaridad con el pueblo Mapuche: Aukin Koyam
Estocolmo, Suecia
aukinkoyam@gmail. com

Movimiento La Peña del Bronx.(EE.UU)
lapena2006@hotmail. com

Red de Apoyo a los Pueblos Indigenas
Noruega- Tor Andersen - Noruega

Partido Sosialista de Izquierdas Noruega

Internasjonal Gruppe Oslo Noruega-Torgeir - Noruega

Holgersen Nehuen Kultursenter - Noruega

Tara Sandegren Hausmania Kultursenter - Noruega

Mauro di Vieste
Associazione per i Popoli Minacciati - Sudtirolo - Italia

Marisol Salinas
Chilean Popular and Indigenous network - Australia
redchile@bigpond. com

Lucho Riquelme
Latin American Solidairty Network, LASNET
lasnet@latinlasnet. org

Copies of this letter will be submitted to the following:

Senators and Members of the Chilean Parliament
Mapuche communities and organizations
Human Rights organizations
Social and Cultural Organisations
The Media

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