Mapuche hungerstrike ends for some, continues for others

translated from articles on and

October 2 communique from the prisoners ending their hungerstrike.
Text of offer made by government on October 1.
October 3 communique of prisoners continuing their hungerstrike

[Note from translator: The Mapuche struggle contains many different elements, including those who want justice and autonomy within the Chilean state, and others who want total sovereignty and independence. The communiques translated here represent different perspectives, that are nonetheless united in the same struggle.
For background on the hungerstrike and the Mapuche struggle, see
and…nd-ponies/ ]

After 82 days, 26 of the 38 Mapuche prisoners have ended their hungerstrike. Those who are locked up in the prison at Angol are continuing their strike.

Violence and Control are always three steps ahead; the government’s offer is the same that was demanded 82 days ago (removing the charges under the antiterrorist law). Now it is demanded that the government complete its promises, as this wouldn’t be the first time the Chilean state has eluded its commitments. Secondly, the mobilization has not ended, rather it has only just begun. Pressure must be exercised against the state’s attorney, especially Sabas Chahuan. They are the only executioners right now, no one else.
And it must remain clear that this strike has not finished, it has only been suspended!

The withdrawal of the terrorist charges and the public recognition, by the Chilean state, that the criteria by which we have been judged were in error, will not end the prosecutions, much less when the stubborness, indolence, and manifest bad faith of the prosecutors of Araucania [the region of the Chilean state where most of the Mapuche prisoners are held], guaranteed by the Attorney General, insist on speaking an empty Legalese in order to impede the realization of justice. The government [in this case, the parliament] can just trust in the obstinacy of the Public Ministry (the state’s attorney’s office) and excuse itself by referring to the formal independence (a thousand times refuted in practice) that other branch of government, in order to remain on good terms with both sides of the conflict, which is to say, to declare that they did everything possible when objectively nothing at all happened.

We have to remain attentive, and also to recognize that Chile has changed greatly in these last 82 days. Three months ago the TV generically treated the Mapuche as terrorists, and now it’s the government, in the name of the Chilean state, that must admit these accusations to be false. Whatever happens, we are the witnesses and guarantors that never again will they accuse our First Nations, in a legal and legitimate struggle, of being accomplices of the FARC or ETA, or of being “terrorists” without any more evidence than the criminal racism of the journalists.

Chile is not the same country as it was three months ago, and we still have the task of reconstructing–or rather, constructing–the Left so that this partial triumph, in Ezzati’s* words, becomes a total triumph, by moving from positions of resistance, merely defensive, to organization, in order to annihilate the economic interests that subjugate the Chilean people, the Mapuche people, and all peoples.

*Ezzati is a Catholic archbishop acting as a mediator between the Mapuche spokespersons and the government.

Agreement (Read by the mediator Ezzati and recognized by the government)

As is public knowledge, the government has promoted legal reforms intended to modify the antiterrorist law and the norms regarding trying civilians in military court.

This will to change forms part of our government’s program, and corresponds to democratic convictions and principles that appear in our legal system, and that inspire our Constitution, and to norms of international rights, human rights, and Convention 169 of the OIT, as well as recommendations by international organizations.

[the following points are paraphrased, to cut down on the legalese].

Second: current Mapuche political prisoners won’t be prosecuted as terrorists. The document notes that it was the previous government of Michelle Bachelet (Socialist) that began the current prosecutions. The government does not think the crimes the Mapuche prisoners are being accused of can be qualified as terrorist.
Third: the government will continue pushing legislation through the National Congress to end the double jeopardy by which civilians can be tried in military court. In the future, only military personnel will be tried in military court.
Fourth: in relation to the other demands and complaints communicated by the Mapuche prisoners [which are never mentioned by the government or press], the signatories of the agreement will continue meeting, along with Ezzati, to continue “in the search for solutions to the various topics that are taken up by the ‘Mapuche cause’.”
Fifth: The government will try to garner medical aid to stabilize the health of those hungerstrikers who are not giving up the strike.

“The signatories trust that this will be the beginning of an adequate relationship on which to base a new deal with the Mapuche people.

1 October 2010

Family Members and Spokespeople explain the reasons for continuing the hungerstrike in Angol
The traditional authorities, spokespeople, and Mapuche political prisoners of the county of Ercilla, in the province of Malleco, communicate the following public declaration to clarify to the country, to our Mapuche people, and to the international community, the fundamental reasons for continuing the hungerstrike.

1. A simple reading of the agreement proposed by the government shows that it does not cover or resolve the essential situation that motivated the hungerstrike. It is not sufficient for the government to withdraw the terrorism accusations, because the Public Ministry will continue to use the terrorism enhancement against every new Mapuche who goes to trial. Speaking as the 13 Mapuche who are continuing the strike, we are convinced that there terrorism doesn’t exist at all.

2. The reform of the antiterrorist law is completely limited, even though it excludes minors from the terrorism enhancement and the presumption of guilt, we are convinced that the hunger strike so far has only been used by the government to attend to the urgent demands of the international community to modify the military justice system and reform the antiterrorist law. For that reason, some of the hungerstrikers are not willing to endorse juridical changes that don’t resolve the fundamental questions.

3. We the 13 Mapuche hungerstrikers who are continuing, have been struggling for the recovery of stolen lands and territories, and to underscore, through our actions, the right to free determination, not to carry out simple short-term actions and behaviors that will disappoint the future of the Mapuche.

4. We are calling on the Mapuche people and its organizations to continue the struggle, and we ask them to continue showing solidarity with those of us who are persisting in the hungerstrike as the only resource for denouncing the irregularities and illegalities that we have had to endure as Mapuche political prisoners. From prison we can also denounce the human rights violations that the Mapuche people have historically experienced, though we don’t see any remedies to this situation despite the apparent agreement that some have reached.

5. We also turn to the Chilean people and the international community to request that they continue acting in solidarity with our legitimate cause, as the violation of our rights, in the form of political oppression, is as current as before.

6. We declare that we are completely open to dialogue and exhort the government to do what it takes to definitively resolve our situation. Equally, we want to stress that the significance of prevailing, with our lives on the line, profoundly moves us.

Latest news:
A representative from the Ministry of Health visited the 6 prisoners from Angol who are in the hospital at Victoria, and threatened to send them back to prison and let them die if they did not end their hungerstrike. The prisoners insisted they will continue their hungerstrike, at least until the government agrees to definitively stop using secret witnesses. Currently, one single secret witness paid by the state is keeping 20 Mapuche in prison.

The prisoners who are continuing the hungerstrike have received strong support from the Mapuche people. A large ceremony, the Nguillaimawün, was held at the Angol prison. Numerous communities from Malleco and Arauco arrived in caravan at the prison, renewing their collective strength, and rememberingthe weichafe, the warriors, killed by the Chilean state in the last few years: Alex Lemún, Matías Catrileo and Jaime Mendoza Collío.

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1 Response to Mapuche hungerstrike ends for some, continues for others

  1. Pingback: Solidarity with the Temuco 12! | Solidarity Trip to Chile, Bolivia, and Walmapu

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