Chief Juana Calfunao Tortured and Abused by Chilean Police

26 th December 2005

On the 21 st December 2005, Lonko [Chief] Juana Calfunao was brutally assaulted along with other members of her community and the horse she was riding was shot by Chilean police. Two days later, and despite being injured, Lonko Calfunao was again beaten and taken, together with her sister Luisa, to the police station at Padre Las Casas. This occurred during an illegal police search which involved entirely disproportionate violence.

On Wednesday the 21 st December, at around 18:00 hours, a police contingent made up of special forces from Temuco and Los Laureles arrived at the Juan Paillalef community and began to fire tear gas at a small group of people who were protesting against the illegal construction of a private road which goes through the middle of their small, rural community. Subsequently the police began to fire against the unarmed crowd, injuring Lonko Calfunao and other community members, as well as the horse Lonko Calfunao was riding. Ironically, it must be noted that according to an order by the Public Ministry of Temuco, the 'carabineros'(Chilean police) from Los Laureles involved in the attack were responsible for the personal safety of Lonko Calfunao following earlier death threats made against her and an arson attack upon her home.

Two days later (Friday 23) at 14:00, a police contingent of around 200 'carabineros' under the command of Cristian Alarcón, captain of the Padre Las Casas Police station, again attacked the Juan Paillalef community with tear gas and bullets. The police did not present a search warrant to the Mapuche authority as is required by Chilean law. With unprecedented violence they proceeded to 'destroy the dwelling and all personal belongings, they scattered the food and broke the electric and water generators'. They also took all the farming and communication tools, as well as destroying the workshop that was being reconstructed after a deliberate fire that occurred in July this year. Lonko Juana and her sister Luisa were again beaten in front of their children and the children of the community and driven to the Police Station Tree in Padre Las Casas, detained and released the following day, having been subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

During October and November this year Lonko Calfunao visited several European countries, including the United Kingdom, with the objective of denouncing the persistent campaign of political persecution to which she is subjected from the Chilean establishment, along with the death threats and daily harassment by the local landowners who are determined to take the remaining land of her community.

The road being protested against began to be expanded during the time Lonko was in Europe, and in order to carry out the work the 'carabineros' held hostage the members of the community opposed to the construction. The action by the police was arbitrary and the construction contravenes article 13 of the Indigenous Law No 19.253 of 1993 which states: "The land whose title holders are Indigenous Communities will not be rented, or given to third parties for use, leisure or administration."

Lonko Calfunao, her family and members of her community have suffered a permanent terror campaign. A great part of the 120 hectares that the community originally owned has been taken away by outsiders that have settled in Mapuche territory next to their community. This is despite the Mapuche community having legal land titles since 1913.

Lonko Calfunao's fight for the restitution of her community's lands and her participation in the global fight of the Mapuche for justice and freedom have made her the target of a campaign of terror and abuse that has lasted for decades. Chief Calfunao has been arbitrarily detained on various occasions, and her house has been destroyed three times. During her detention in May 2000 in the Police Station Two of Temuco she was tortured causing the loss of her unborn baby.

Despite the ample documented evidence that Lonko Calfunao has presented to the Chilean Tribunals (military and civilian), the Chilean Judicial system, a system made up of racist and corrupt judges, has not investigated the cases and much evidence has either not been archived or has been deliberately lost in the system.

Lonko Calfunao is a well known authority of the Mapuche community and for many years has carried out an active campaign in defence of Mapuche human rights and for the restitution of the usurped land. Lonko Calfunao expressed a desire to renounce her Chilean nationality given that her life since she was a child has been marked by repression by the Chilean state; her clamouring for justice has remained unheard and the Chilean authorities do not guarantee her personal safety which is made worse by the fact that she is a Chief.

Chilean Nationality was imposed on all Mapuche, following the illegal annexation of Mapuche territory by the Chilean State in the late nineteenth century. Currently the Chilean Government uses repressive laws introduced during the de facto Pinochet regime and uses Military tribunals against the Mapuche in times of peace. It also does not recognise the existence of the Mapuche in its political constitution nor has it ratified the ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples.

Therefore, Mapuche International Link demands that the Chilean authorities investigate the claims, including the abuse of power by the police and the failure of the judicial system to uphold justice. We demand that the problem that affects Lonko Calfunao be resolved at an official political level. We ask for the establishment of an independent and impartial tribunal with the participation of international lawyers, capable of providing procedural guarantees to the accused and conforming to the standard rules of a legitimate democratic state.

We ask the Secretary General of the United Nations to begin an investigation and negotiation with the Chilean authorities in regard to article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the right of everyone to a nationality. This is an issue which affects around 2 million Mapuche who in having Chilean nationality imposed on them are thus denied their right to Mapuche nationality and the right to their own inherent culture and identity.

Mapuche International Link

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