lunes, 23 de mayo de 2011

Support and solidarity with the Mapuche political prisoners convicted in Cañete

photo : Jose Huenuche in hunger strike

International Campaign


We, the undersigned, wish to endorse the letter of the families of the Mapuche Political Prisoners convicted in the trial in the city of Cañete; we express our support and solidarity with the legitimate motion of mistrial and the implementation of a new and fair trial with an independent, competent and impartial tribunal, without the application of Law 18.314, known as the Antiterrorist Law.

Mr. Milton Juica
President of the Supreme Court of Chile

We, the families of the Mapuche political prisoners recently prosecuted in the city of Cañete in the Bio-Bio Region, wish to convey to you our deepest concern over the situation of violation occurred during the entire proceedings that ultimately ended in conviction, which is why our families have been on a liquid hunger strike since March 15th.

As you may know, they were part of the group of 34 Mapuche who kept a hunger strike during more than 80 days to demand, among other things, that the Antiterrorist Law (18.314) should not be applied to them, i.e. to have the possibility of a fair trial. Nevertheless, in spite of the agreement with the government, a trial was carried out between November and February against 17 Mapuche commoners where aforementioned rules were applied by the Office of the Public Prosecutor and private plaintiffs – forestry companies and government representatives – the latter by supporting all the evidence presented by the prosecution, including secret witnesses as authorized by the Antiterrorist Law.

In the final conviction decision known on March 22nd, the members of the Criminal Oral Trial Court, Mr. Carlos Muñoz and Jorge Díaz, uttered that they had formed their conviction on the alleged participation in the investigated and prosecuted events mainly based on the testimony of a secret witness (named “witness no. 26“). Nonetheless, the final ruling rejected to classify such events as terrorist, which is an obvious contradiction.

It is an alarming situation that the Judges’ ruling considered hearsay from a civil police detective who had heard a “voluntary” declaration from one of our relatives (equally charged and convicted), who supposedly had incriminated himself and other Mapuche commoners. In this regard, we stress that this incident was reported to Justice and public opinion because this declaration was obtained under torture, having medical certification on the injuries. In spite of this, in an unprecedented move, the Public Prosecutor of Temuco decided not to address the complaint, closing the file on the case and not investigating the serious acts of torture reported by this Mapuche commoner.

Furthermore, the biggest legal aberration was the double prosecution our relatives were subjected to, being simultaneously prosecuted by both civil and military justice for the same event, in spite of the fact that in December 16th, 2010, the Military Court of Valdivia decided to acquit our relatives for not finding evidence on the investigated events. The case is currently filed at the Court of Appeal of Concepción, without any indication on what the next procedural step will be. We are concerned about the situation that if the acquittal were not ratified and had a setback, i.e. if each one of our relatives were prosecuted yet again, we would once more have a double prosecution, since this same event has already been seen, tried and acquitted by the Military Justice and now tried and convicted by the Court of Cañete.

As you may be aware, the Chilean State has received a report from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on November 2010, which establishes the violation of the human rights of the leaders and members of the Mapuche people who have been prosecuted and convicted under Law 18.314, particularly by the use of “faceless” witnesses (IACHR Report 176/10). Today the State is risking an international condemnation by an International Court such as the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which can only be a matter of concern to this Honourable Court.

Our relatives - all of whom are social activists for our people – Ramón Llanquileo Pilquiman, José Huenuche Reiman, and Jonathan Huillical Méndez were convicted to 20 years of prison and Héctor Llaitul Carrillanca, to 25 years. We are convinced that their constitutional rights to a due process and fair trial were violated. Therefore, we demand a declaration of mistrial and the implementation of a new and fair trial with an independent, competent and impartial tribunal, without the application of Law 18.314, known as the Antiterrorist Law. In addition, we demand the immediate ratification of the acquittal issued by the Military Court of Valdivia.

We would furthermore like to present to you some of the people and organizations who support us in this call for justice and join us in our just demand.

The Families of the Mapuche Political Prisoners convicted in Cañete.


- Urgent Global Solidarity Call - Mapuche Hunger Strike Reaches DAY 70

photo : Jonathan Huillical

Mapuche International Link will hold a public demonstration on Thursday (May 26) in support of four Mapuche political prisoners now entering DAY 70 of their hunger strike protest. The health of the four men is now very serious as they await a supreme court ruling (June 3) on their annulment appeal against their original trial, at which they were sentenced to 20 to 25 years in prison for allegedly attacking a member of the Chilean judiciary.

The strikers, José Huenuche, Héctor Llaitul, Jonathan Huillical and Ramón Llanquileo, are calling for a fair and impartial retrial in accordance with international standards. They demand not to be tried under anti terrorism legislation, the use of which against Mapuche land rights activists has been widely condemned by the international community and involves suspects being tried simultaneously in military and civilian courts with the use of anonymous witnesses.

The four men are accused of attacking a Chilean prosecutor and of belonging to a campaign group classified as a terrorist organisation by the Chilean authorities. CAM (Coordinadora Arauco Malleco) campaign for the rights of Chile’s indigenous Mapuche people over their ancestral lands, which are mainly controlled by big corporations (such as logging corporations) and powerful private landowners. CAM has not been responsible for taking a single human life and patently does not represent a legitimate terror threat by any international standard.

The four condemned Mapuche whose previous hunger strike along with 30 other Mapuche political prisoners ended in October 2010 when the Chilean government bowed to international pressure and promised not to apply anti terrorism law against Mapuche activists and leaders demanding the restitution of their ancestral lands. However, on March 22 this year the four Mapuche leaders were convicted by a Chilean court again using mechanisms allowed solely under the application of these laws, which violate basic principles of due process.

The conviction of the four activists was based on the testimony of police and anonymous witnesses. The only named civilian witness who testified against the men was a Mapuche who was interrogated by the police during their investigation, and who human rights organisations allege had been tortured into giving a statement. International observers reported that the trial judge failed to demonstrate impartiality in the trial by accepting all the proposals of the prosecution and lawyers representing forestry companies and refuting all objections filed by the defence. Because the decision of the court was arbitrary and not corroborated by an independent and impartial tribunal, it can only add to the deep distrust which the Mapuche feel for the Chilean justice system.

LATEST HEALTH UPDATE: All four hunger strikers now require 24 hour monitoring by medical professionals, according to a medical report by Dr Juan Reinao on May 19. On that date the men had all lost between 17.2kg (Huenuche) and 21.5kg (Llaitul) since they began refusing food on March 15, 2011, and were suffering from extreme weakness, fever, dizziness and severe muscular cramps and headaches. The doctor also recommended that Llanquileo and Huenuche be removed from the prison to receive more intensive care, and that all four prisoners be monitored in an isolated space reserved for people with compromised immune systems, as their poor physical condition would make them vulnerable to infection.

We must put pressure on the Chilean government to stop using draconian Pinochet era anti terror laws against Mapuche leaders and land rights activists! The demonstration in support of the Mapuche hunger strikers will take place in front of the Chilean embassy (37-41 Old Queen St, London SW1H 9JA). The nearest underground station is St James’s Park. We invite you and your organisation to join us at the demonstration next Thursday, May 26, which will take place between 1.00 and 2.00pm.