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Andrea Marifil Calfunao:

Presentation of the Mapuche situation before the 11th Session of the Human Rights Council

(Statement by the Indian Council for South America)

Human Rights Council
United Nations
11th Session
Geneva, 2 – 19 June 2009
Item 8, General debate.

Thank you Mr President.

On 8th May, the Chilean government presented their report during the 5th session of the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review. It shows an optimistic view of the human rights situation in that country; however the violation of human rights of indigenous peoples, in particular of the Mapuche people, has not changed. In fact, the Chilean Government continues to ignore the numerous queries and concern expressed before and during the presentation of the Report by some thirty countries, in connection with the infringement of the economic, social and cultural rights, as well as civil and political rights, of the Mapuche people.

Chile’s failure to comply with its international obligations, relating to the respect for and promotion of human rights, is once again made plain by the indiscriminate actions of the intelligence services operating in the ancestral land of the Mapuche people. Relatives of Héctor Lleitul, director and former political prisoner of the Juana Milahuanque community, claimed in May of this year that they had discovered three microphones hidden in the school books of the family’s children. The family stated that this espionage activity had presumably been put into action during the multiple raids that had taken place on their home. Likewise, on the 16th May the Mapuche political prisoners Waikilaf Cadin and Andrés Coña, relegated to Valdivia prison, claimed to have found a similar device in their cell, a case which is under investigation today.

We consider that these actions by the Chilean Government flagrantly violate the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child, by using Mapuche schoolchildren as a means of surveillance and of obtaining information. To this may be added the interrogations of Mapuche children carried out by police in rural schools situated in zones of conflict; actions which have previously been denounced before this assembly and which form part of the political persecution carried out against Mapuche leaders.

The democratic government also takes repressive action against those who broadcast and/or document Mapuche’s human rights violations, including visitors to the oppressed communities, as is the case in the community of Temucuicui. Certain friends of the Mapuche are continually intimidated and even expelled from the country, as has happened to the Italian documentary-makers Giuseppe Gabriele and Dario Loseffi. Others, such as the Chilean journalist Marcelo Garay, were detained and had their photographic equipment confiscated, for the mere fact of having been documenting the situation of the Mapuche in the Araucania region. The cinematographer Elena Varela was also detained and her material confiscated for the sake of “intelligence”, violating her freedom of expression and confidentiality. She made a film about the usurpation of Mapuche lands, the forestry industry, the criminalisation of the struggles of indigenous peoples, repression, the actions of companies in the area and their impact on affected communities.

The repression shows no sign of ceasing, even though those accused are complying with the rules laid down by the judicial authorities. On the night of the 7th June, police protecting the landowner Rene Urban violently broke into the home of Jorge and Juan Henchillan, who were complying with precautionary measures and the curfew in the town of Ercilla, and with no explanation, violently struck and tortured them, insulted them in a racist manner and threatened them with death, as well as requisitioning their cellular phones and other belongings. We believe that this action proves that police are acting in a servile capacity on behalf of regional businessmen, an abuse of power against those leaders who seek respect for territorial rights.

Finally, as well as condemning the massacre carried out against our indigenous brothers and sisters in the region of Bagua, in the Amazon, we urge the Government of Peru and relevant indigenous communities, as well as the human rights organisations of the United Nations, to take all necessary measures with a view to a peaceful and just solution to the ongoing conflict. We call on the Peruvian authorities to concede to the fair and just demands of the indigenous communities who seek to abolish the eleven legislative decrees, which threaten the rights of indigenous peoples. We consider the actions of the police against the civil population to be totally disproportionate, with indigenous sources from the region indicating that there have been 100 deaths, among them the elderly, women and children, as well as a large number of wounded. We demand a clarification of the facts, and justice for the relatives of those indigenous people who have been appallingly massacred.

Andrea Marifil Calfunao
Mapuche Committee for Human Rights
European Union


Translated by: Alex Sharp
Mapuche International Link


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