Mapuche political prisoners endure first week on hunger strike

Strikers criticize the implementation of the Antiterrorist Act and the military proceedings imposed by the Chilean state · They call for the government to demilitarize Mapuche territories · A senator visited the prison and called on the government to dialogue with prisoners · A group of ‘comuneros’ (activists struggling for the right on land) brought a lawsuit against the government of Chile before the UN Human Rights’ Commission.

Twenty Mapuche prisoners serving sentence in two different Chilean prisons started a hunger strike to protest against Chile's judicial system. They are against the implementation by the state of the Antiterrorist Act on Mapuche activism. The Mapuche struggle is mainly engaged in occupying the land from where they were previously evicted. The strikers also condemned the government for applying military proceedings to their trials, called for political prisoners to be released and the Mapuche communities to be demilitarized.

According to Radio Universidad de Chile, several prisoners -jailed in the penitentiaries of Concepción and Temuco- are prominent leaders of the Mapuche community, such as the former head of the Arauco Coordinator Committee (CAM) Héctor Llaitul, who is remanded in custody for over 1 year.

Alejandro Navarro, member of the Chilean senate, visited the hunger strikers to express them support. He required the government to "dialogue on the comunero's demands now, not when their lives are in imminent danger". Senator Navarro reminded that the United Nations sent an observer to Chile to look into violations of human rights infringed upon indigenous peoples, particularly Mapuches. He encouraged the government to act immediately so that the matter does not turn into a "political affair".

In the meantime, Mapuche representatives traveled to Geneva in order to file a lawsuit against the government of Chile before the UN Human Rights' Commission. They argued Mapuches are victims of constant abuses committed by judicial and police authorities, and also informed the Commission about the current hunger strike.

Photo: Previous Mapuche protest (Wikipedia).

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