miércoles, 18 de mayo de 2011

Mapuche hunger strike reaches 63 days, health conditions critical


The four Mapuche political prisoners being held in Angol prison have today reached 63 days on hunger strike. The health of all of them is critical, as they await the decision of the Supreme Court on the annulment appeal presented against the Cañete trial, which will become public on 3 June. Relatives call upon supporters to continue with their mobilizations.

The health conditions of the four Mapuche political prisoners being held in Angol prison who today reached 63 days on hunger strike is critical. Héctor Llaitul, aged 43, has lost 20 kilos in weight since he began his hunger strike on 15 March; he is weak, suffering from cramps in his extremities, insomnia and intense migraines. Jonathan Huillical, aged 23, has lost 18 kilos during this last strike and has similar symptoms to those of Llaitul. The same thing is happening with José Huenuche, aged 34, who has lost 16 kilos, and Ramón Llanquileo, aged 29, who has lost 17 kilos.

The protestors’ spokeswoman, Natividad Llanquileo, stressed that, despite their weakened state of health, they will continue with this method of applying pressure: “The report indicates a series of difficulties with their health conditions. However, they remain resolute about continuing with the action until they achieve a decision. We hope this will happen as soon as possible, both at the Supreme Court and at the Court of Appeal in Concepción. We are awaiting this so as to be able to make some decisions of our own”, she pointed out.

Adolfo Montiel, defence lawyer of Ramón Llanquileo, one of the four community members sentenced by the court of Cañete, revealed himself to be confident regarding the action to annul the proceedings that sentenced the Mapuche leaders to 25 and 20 years’ imprisonment. The lawyer stated that it is clear that the community members have been wrongly convicted, not only due to the application of the Antiterrorist Law, but also due to the poor quality of the evidence presented by the Prosecution, since the verdict was structured on the basis of the statement of just one of the 36 protected witnesses used in the trial.

There is another case before the Court of Appeal of Concepción concerning these same facts, where the court could ratify the decision of the military court to acquit the defendants of the terrorist offences of which they were charged or else order a new trial, thus establishing double proceedings by the civil courts.

In this regard, Montiel indicated that the decision of the Supreme Court will mark the pattern of this second trial: “The decision of Court in Concepción would have to be positive, because it is awaiting what happens here. If the appeal is allowed here, I believe the Court in Concepción will confirm the acquittal. Because there the charge is attacks against Carabineros, and in Cañete - that is, the Supreme Court now - against detectives and a district attorney. That is, they divided the facts and I believe the reason is the same. They are the same facts, the same time, the same day. So if Santiago gives a sign, the Court in Concepción cannot ignore the opinion of its hierarchical superior and should acquit”, he explained.

The lawyer indicated that the highest court must understand a principle that is fundamental: the right to defence. This right, he claimed, was infringed in the trial in Cañete, since all the questions they addressed to the protected witnesses were objected against, with the argument that “they revealed their identities” with them, so cross-examination was not possible, which is extremely serious in the lawyer’s view, since the right to defence is absolute. Today, Monday, the Supreme Court gave notification of the date when its decision will be issued; it will be on 3 June.

In the last few hours, the Deputy Hugo Gutiérrez declared that there is urgent need for the Supreme Court to annul the trial that sentenced the four leaders of the CAM. During a visit to Temuko, the Deputy, a member of the Human Rights Commission of the Chamber of Deputies, qualified the application of the Antiterrorist Law to indigenous community members struggling to assert their rights as “perverse”. Hugo Gutiérrez stated that there is the urgent need for a new trial to commence and for the Supreme Court to annul the previous one that sentenced Héctor Llaitul to 25 years and Ramón Llanquileo, Jonathan Huillical and José Huenuche to 20 years imprisonment.

The Communist Deputy asserted that there are millions of Chileans who want the indigenous peoples of this country to be treated fairly, and especially the Mapuche, who have historically fought to assert their rights. It is necessary to remember that the four indigenous leaders have been on hunger strike for more than 60 days in Angol prison, where the police have been given the green light to transfer them to hospitals in La Araucanía, even though Natividad Llanquileo has advised that the institution should ask them for their opinion and for those of their respective families.

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