URGENT NEED for support for Mapuche Political prisoners on Hunger strike.
(The largest First Nation of Chile: 1.3 million people)
The Mapuche Nation once more recurs to this unique form of struggle: Chile’s repressive system, based on a repressive Constitution leaves them no option. Nine Mapuche political prisoners have undertaken a Hunger Strike. A first group of four from the Wente Winkul Mapu Community, Lof (sector) Chekenco: They are Paulino Levipan Coyán (24), Daniel Levinao Montoya (19), Rodrigo Montoya Melinao (19) and their spokesperson, Eric Montoya Montoya (20). They were detained and brutally tortured by the Regional Police Chief himself (General Ivan Bezmalinovic) They have been detained several times, well before reaching an adult age. Once jailed they presented an accusation against him. Nevertheless, any accusation against police or armed forces are taken to the Martial Courts and always these end in complete impunity) he managed to accuse them of failed attempt of murder with gun. A completely mounted charge: the usually biased tribunal condemned them to 14 years in spite of having no evidence. They have made an Appeal to the Supreme Court of Justice and this has to be resolved on October 24th. (It is important to know that the Court has rejected previous appeals in similar situations, as it was the case of four Mapuche prisoners sentenced last year to 8 and 14 years of imprisonment. That trial, witnessed by national and international legal observers was considered by Mme. Mireille Fanon-Mendes-France, “a mockery where prevarication by the justice system was obvious”. This in spite of false charges based on the use of Protected witnesses and included “confessions” taken under torture. (http://collectif.mapuche.over-blog.com/article-article-de-lucia-66277728.html)
This first group started his hunger strike 47 days ago and is now presenting serious health problems. Their weight loss is now of 12 kg (Paulino), 13 kg (Daniel), Erik Montoya (8.8 kg) and 11.6 Kg (Rodrigo Montoya) They were recently taken to a Hospital in Concepción, Chile under a “Protection Appeal” made by the Government to prevent them from dying. This is the government’s first move as they have refused to implement proper legal and democratic process. Their hunger strike was initiated, like other previous Mapuche social activists, because their trial and sentences was done by Chile’s Tribunals in violation of the most basic rules of the Legal Due Process. Their repression is based on a long-term dirty war that has maintained and enforced the plundering of their lands and repression of their culture and rights. These continue to occur and it does not respect Covenant 169 of the International Labour Office (ILO) that establishes the principles for the reparation and solution of indigenous peoples’ rights. I had visited most of them in prison and saw the damage cause by the tortures they have endured. It is absurd this Protection Appeals that goes against the patients’ very personal decision and ethically not to be violated.
At present there is also a five prisoner-group, in The Temuco Prison: They initiated their hunger strike on October 1st. It includes Leonardo Quijon Pereira, Luís Marileo Cariqueo, Fernando Millacheo Marin, Guido Bahamondes and Cristian Levinao Melinao, three of them arrested when they were minor. Leonardo Quijon Pereira, age 17 at the time he was shot at point blank, with anti-riot gun, by Chile’s Especial Police Forces. He received 176 metallic pellets in his leg. Given the fear of their detention in his region, he was taken to Santiago by his parents and with the support of a network of human rights. He was treated there; unfortunately, he also had a cardiac arrest. He recovered but, overall left with significant motor limitations. He is unable to work (woodworker in forestry). As matters were confusing, initially, Chile’s Police, to protect themselves, indicated “to have no problems with him”. Yet, when discharged from hospital he was detained, brutally abused and trialled illegally under Anti-Terrorist Law. Then he was sent to a Prison for Minors (located in Chol-Chol, 9th. Region of Chile). I visited him there with lawyers and made a report for his protection and treatment. Absolutely nothing was implemented.
Eventually, Police has continued to harass him and he is usually under detained, simply to intimidate him and his Community (Wente Winkul Mapu). He has been detained with false charges and now he is at Temuco’ jail.
So, currently there are two groups of Mapuche political prisoners on hunger strike. Their human and legal rights have been violated. They present a serious ethical abuse established against the Mapuche people by the state and government. Their lives are seriously threatened and Chile’s established powers (a) Administrative: especially in daily interaction that is delivered by gendarmerie), b) Judicial Courts and Tribunals biased against the rights of indigenous peoples and supporting illegal sentencing; c) Health: whose attitude breaches ethical principles in the management and rights of prisoners on hunger strike is obvious. The Minister of health, Dr. Jaime Mañalich, claims that "there are no problems for the first two months of such strikes" instead, from the very beginning it should have been mandatory to meet the legitimate and legal demands of the prisoners. These principles would be accepted in any Court. But Chile is not democratic: it is based on Pinochet’s Constitution, which has not been changed for 32 years. Especially when their trials and convictions have violated all due procedural law with mounts, intimidation and violence that does not leave any human space to the prisoners. It maintains an authoritarian constitution and focused on punishing those who fight for their rights. This is to provide protection to the interests of the business and traditional power. As we are now seen that these prisoners health is at risk, with serious symptoms, the Chilean State and Government want to appear as "humanitarian life saviours": But this violates also the Declaration of Malta (which is the same as the Chilean Medical Association) on hunger strikes. The government surreptitiously accuses Human Rights Groups that oppose its immoral acts of “political intentions and preferring to see a hunger striker dying in order to achieve their political objectives. (Similar to Former British Prime Minister in the 70”s when repressing the Irish political prisoners also on hunger strike)" However, the government has made no attempt to respect these very same hunger strikers by listening, reviewing their illegal process and sentences as well as the abusive treatment they receive in their subhuman prison conditions. The State uses a repressive system to impose to these social activists a situation where there is no hope whatsoever, leading to their sole option: to risk their own lives against this undemocratic situation. The proper response should have been to respect the prisoner rights, including, to start with, with their right to dissent, to protest and oppose the violation of their fundamental rights as individuals and groups, and a fortiori, with Chile’s indigenous peoples. The criminalization of their demands, irrational violence applied against communities, women, elderly and children, as well as their arrests should not happen. In Chile, indigenous peoples are not recognized as such: they are simply Chilean citizens. By doing it this way they have no rights of their own, a culture of their own nor a vision of their own. In fact, all that can be criminalized. They are, then, left with their poverty resulting from an historical plundering made by the Chilean State. And this, continuously repeats itself. Repression is also omnipresent to make sure things do not change. Chile's dictatorship Constitution is around and it blesses this repression. Chile is not a democratic country. But it will... if we all contribute to it.
Dr. Jose Venturelli, Pediatrician
International Spokesperson of the Ethical Commission Against Torture in Chile
International Speaker for the Human Rights Commission of Chile’s College of Physicians
March in support of Hunger strikers at Angol's prison: October 2012
Picture published by “Metiendo Ruido”: Mapuche political prisoners were mistrialed and condemned for 10 years and more. They are members of the Wente Winkul Mapu Community. These prisoners are now on a hunger strike for 47 days with serious health problem. Their strike is to denounce the violation of Due Process, use of torture and Racist persecution.
For details on the Malta Declaration as it pertains to the ethical approach of political prisoners on hunger strike:
Spanish version: http://www.wma.net/es/30publications/10policies/h31/
English version: http://www.wma.net/en/30publications/10policies/h31/