Press Release on the launch of MIL website
27th April 2002
On the 29th April the Mapuche people commemorate
the anniversary of the death of the Toki Leftraru, distinguished
hero of the Mapuche nation: this day of remembrance is becoming
widely accepted as "Mapuche Heroes' and Martyrs' Day".
In honour of this anniversary, Mapuche International Link today
is launching www.mapuche-nation.org.
During the last 500 years numerous Mapuche
laid down their lives in defence of our national sovereignty, firstly
in countering Inca and Spanish imperial aggression, latterly when
confronted by the republics of Chile and Argentina. On this day
the Mapuche people remember and pay homage to their forebears, keeping
their memory alive, as an occasion for remembrance and pride in
our past. The actions, among many others, of the Tokis Leftraru,
Kalfulikan, Kilapan, Kalfukura and the female Toki Janequeo, symbolise
the resistance and stand as sources of inspiration for the contemporary
generations in their struggle for a dignified future, with freedom
and justice for the Mapuche people.
The launch of this website provides a forum
which will fill the need for objective information about the Mapuche
situation. It will give information about Mapuche history, their
current situation and hopes for the future, expressed directly by
those concerned. It will also create a link for the Mapuche global
diaspora, being our contribution to the informative work of the
already-existent Mapuche webpages based in the Wallmapu (ancestral
Mapuche land). The website will bring together efforts to counter
propaganda from traditional communication media, mouthpieces for
society's oppression which distort facts, perpetuate stereotypes
and racial prejudices against indigenous peoples, and which are
used to justify the occupation of our lands, the actions of the
forestry companies and the political repression of our people.
Environmental degradation, which directly
affects numerous Mapuche communities on both sides of the Andes
Mountain range, is a matter which merits special attention. The
construction of the Ralko dam across the river Bio-Bio leads not
only to environmental implications in an earthquake zone, but also
destroys communities, including their cultural identity, floods
areas considered to be sacred, as well as violating cemeteries.
Similarly, in Argentina (Puelmapu), the Mapuche communities of Paynemil
and Kaxipayin in Loma de la Lata region have been suffering water
contamination, due to the extraction of oil by YPF (Yacimientos
A section of the Website will be dedicated
to human rights and civil liberties issues fundamental to indigenous
peoples: during the current period of Chilean democratically elected
government thousands of Mapuche have been detained, many of whom
have reported being tortured and subjected to humiliating, inhuman
and degrading treatment. Today, among others, the Lonkos (Chiefs)
Norin and Pichun are on hunger strike in prison, protesting their
innocence, accused of unsubstantiated offences. Mapuche leaders
have reported constant surveillance, phone-tapping, being photographed
and filmed: in recent days an attempt was made by unknown individuals
to abduct Sara Imilmaqui, the Pewenche community leader.
The Chilean authorities will guarantee neither
individual nor collective security for the Mapuche, for which reason
they currently find themselves completely lacking legal protection.
The Chilean government is responsible for the criminalization of
the whole Mapuche movement, restricting people's freedom of movement
by means of a selective policy of intimidation against Mapuche leaders
as well as the disruption of peaceful demonstrations.
The deforestation and privatization of coastal
areas of the ancestral territories of the Mapuche nation violate
the rights and the freedom of development of many communities, particularly
those of the Willimapu, in that they no longer have access to the
sea and other areas where they traditionally used to fish in order
to feed themselves.
We consider this website to be a small contribution
to those who struggle daily in the Wall mapu for their historic
and inalienable rights: we put ourselves in the service of the communities
who are struggling to express their opinion freely.
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