Aug 30, 2006

UNPO on Illegal Imprisonment of Mapuche indigenous people

The Hague, 30 August 2006 - UNPO appeals to Chilean President to revise the verdict against four Mapuche indigenous people and to accept international standards in the Chilean Legal system.


Four indigenous Mapuche are still held in Chilean prisons under the controversial Anti-terrorism Law (Ley 18.314). UNPO has called upon Chilean President Bachelet to urge revision of the verdict against those four people and to incorporate international standards in their domestic legal system, including the Indigenous and Tribal People Convention of the International Labor Organisation. The Mapuche have been a UNPO Member since 1993.


Four Mapuche indigenous people in Chile, Patricia Troncoso Robles, Patricio Marileo Saravia, Jaime Marileo Saravia and Juan Carlos Huenulao Lienmil, are being held in prison in accordance with the controversial Anti-terrorism Law (Ley 18.314) that was passed during the Pinochet dictatorship. The political prisoners have been sentenced to fines of more than 400 million Chilean pesos (approx. € 620,000) and ten years in prison. In May 2006 they momentarily broke off a two month-long hunger strike hoping that the Ley Navarro, a counter-proposal to law 18.314, which was discussed in the Senate in Valparaiso, would finally bring them freedom. In a state of complete exhaustion the Mapuche prisoners were admitted to hospital in Temuco.


It is claimed  that the Mapuche indigenous  people  are indicted in accordance with Ley 18.314 as they fight for their land rights through  means of  civil  disobedience,  despite general lack  of solid  evidence  to prove accusations.  The Anti-terrorism Law allows  the use of so-called “faceless” i.e. anonymous witnesses,violating  international human rights standards. Furthermore, the
Mapuche  indigenous  people,  appearing  before c ourt, are not given the right to have free assistance of interpreters for defense in  their  language  of Mapudungun.  As a result the  trials lack conformity with both international human right standards and Chilean Constitution.


Although  Minister of the Interior Andrés Zaldivar Larrain had openly declared that Ley 18.314 should no longer be applied in lawsuits involving Mapuche, existing verdicts were not revised and the prisoners remained behind bars. UNPO, in support of the adoption of Ley Navarro,has strongly urged the President to intervene on the following recommendations:


to revise the verdicts against Patricia Troncoso Robles,
Patricio Marileo Saravia, Jaime Marileo Saravia and Juan
Carlos Huenulao Lienmil; and


to work to ensure Chile’s ratification of the Indigenous and
Tribal Peoples Convention (169)  of the International Labor