Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chilean carabineros arrest the spokespeople for the Mapuche political prisoners from Temuco, Angol, and Valdivia

Translation of an article from Kaosenlared

[translator's note: 32 Mapuche prisoners have been on hungerstrike for 62 days, as of September 11th, demanding freedom for the Mapuche prisoners, an end to the use of the anti-terrorist law against the Mapuche, and a demilitarization of Mapuche demands. The Chilean government, which is working furiously to present the upcoming bicentennial celebration as a symbol of the final unification of Chile and reconciliation of problems from the dictatorship, has offered to change the law and meet some of the Mapuche demands. But the reality of colonization extends well beyond the Pinochet dictatorship, and cannot be addressed so easily. Democracy and dictatorship are just two faces of the same coin. The Mapuche prisoners on hungerstrike, their spokespeople on the outside, and their lawyers looked into the reforms proposed by the government and rejected them. This repressive strike came shortly thereafter. For background on the Mapuche people, see the article excerpt at the very end.]

In an unthinkable repressive operation, in any light senseless for the political image that the fascist Chilean government is trying to project internationally), security forces yesterday, Saturday, September 11, arrested the TOTALITY of the spokespeople for the Mapuche political prisoners on hungerstrike for 62 days.

While the shows of solidarity increase minute by minute and the hungerstrikers call for the intensification of the struggle in the face of the weak response from the government, the Chilean state's solution is to detain, persecute, and imprison the Mapuche communities and those who accompany them in their struggle.

Mapuche Strike: the spokespersons of Temucho, Angol, and Valdivia arrested in Concepcion

Lucía Sepúlveda Ruiz / IPS

While walking down the street on their way to the hospital in Concepcion, Mercedes Coña, Víctor Queipul, and Erik Millán, family members of spokespeople for the Mapuche political prisoners on hungerstrike in Valdivia, Angol, and Temuco, were arrested. They were going to meet up with the spokespeople from Concepcion and Lebu in order to make a joint decision in response to conversations with the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Alejandra Sepúlveda and of the Senate, Jorge Pizarro, who are in favor of an immediate opening of dialogue between the Mapuche and the government.

María Tralcal, a spokesperson from Temuco who remained there and talked with this journalist the night of the 11th, indicated that she sees these arrests as an executive operation intended to impede the search for an exit to the current, stressful situation. "Those arrested were carrying an important message, we are a coordinating committee and we had to decide on a resolution as a group. These arrests leave us incommunicado because at the same time, the five brothers on hungerstrike in Concepcion were sent to the hospital and now their family members can't communicate with them. María Tralcal added that all the procedures for transferring prisoners are occurring behind the backs of the family members, and she denounced the government's new intent to force-feed the prisoners intraveneously, which is a form of torture given that the prisoners have expressed their rejection of this alternative.

The government has sent a proposal [to reform the laws] to Parliament, which in the opinion of the family members of the Mapuche political prisoners, as well as that of human rights lawyers, would only worsen the situation and cannot resolve the hungerstrike because it does not respond to the principal demand: that they not be judged with the antiterrorist law.

María Tralcal denounced that she too has been an object of persecution. She also clarified that the arrest of the spokespeople is unrelated to the arrests that occurred inside the hospital at Concepcion, which took place because family members were refused contact with the hungerstrikers who were transferred there surreptitiously by police.

Eleven people were arrested inside the hospital, including family members, prisoners, and spokespersons. The detainees include Natividad Llanquileo, spokesperson from Concepcion and sister of Ramón and Víctor Llanquileo.

Introduction from an extensive, illustrated article, in Spanish, about the history of the Mapuche people, their struggle, and its current manifestations in the face of torture and repression.

"In the southern part of the Chilean and Argentinian states exist an ancestral people named the Mapuche. In their language, Mapudungun, it means People of the Earth. Their territory extends from Bahía Blanca (Argentina) to Concepción (Chile), which is to say, from sea to sea, almost from Buenos Aires to Santiago to Río Negro. The Chilean and Argentinian states have been snatching away their ancestral lands over the course of a few centuries through conquest, expropriations and frauds, and pushing them onto worse land. Their culture, traditional form of organization, language, and religion have been forcibly eroded. The people have been relegated to poverty, racism, and exclusion. In their spirituality there is a tight link between nature and the community. The land owners, multinationals, the State and its economic interests have been contaminating and over-exploiting Mapuche lands, which is a great crime against those who consider themselves children of the earth. In different periods of their history, the Mapuche, who are a rebellious people who love freedom, have risen up on countless occasions against their repressors, and have been harshly repressed through murder, execution, prison, and torture."

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