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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 Petrolificos Fiscales).

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.

– Mapuche International Link

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