October 14, 2010
Report on the situation of the 32 Mapuche prisoners in Chile.
UNPO- Dossier Mapuche Hunger Strike 2010

Report on the situation of the 32 Mapuche prisoners who started a hunger strike in July includes the agreement between the hunger strikers and the Chilean government.


Executive Summary.

This report outlines the current situation of the 32 Mapuche prisoners held in five different prison establishments across the Southern part of Chile, who started a hunger strike on the 12th July 2010 and the case of the two Mapuche youths held in the Youth Detention centre of Chol-Chol, who joined the cause on the 1st September 2010. On the 1st of October a first group ended the hunger strike after signing an agreement with the Chilean government; on the 9th of October the second, and last group, ended the hunger strike.

The Mapuche are an indigenous people whose territory primarily spans the South- central regions of Chile. Approximately 6.8% of the Chilean population is Mapuche, many of whom currently live in “reserves.” The lack of land, the diverse negative effects of mega-development projects as well as the state of poverty in which this marginalized society already is confronted with, has led numerous communities to institute a series of demonstrations with regard to the recuperation of their ancestral lands. The response of the Chilean state in the face of these political, cultural, social and territorial demands has been one of criminalization, prosecution and the incarceration of the Mapuche.

The prisoners on hunger strike demand that the Chilean government should:

1. Bring an end to the use of the Antiterrorism Law against the Mapuche.

2. Bring an end to the use of Military Law against civilians and repeal of the double jeopardy rule.

3. Guarantee the right to fair trial.

4. Demilitarize the Mapuche lands and cease the use of excessive police force in raids.

5. Free the Mapuche political prisoners currently imprisoned.

These demands largely coincide with the recommendations made to the Chilean state since 2004 by various human rights organizations connected with the UN. These recommendations draw particular attention to need to reform the Antiterrorist Law and Military Law, bring an end to police violence and demilitarize the Mapuche territories.

On the 1st of October an agreement was signed between the Chilean government and a first group of Mapuche hunger strikers. The agreement consists of the following main points: 1. Withdrawal of the charges of terrorism presented by the previous government; and 2. Reform of the Anti-terrorism Law and Military Law. The remaining hunger strikers signed the agreement on the 8th of October.

We value the agreement reached between the government and the Mapuche prisoners, but at the same time identify the shortcomings of this agreement in relation to the demands that provoked the hunger strike in the first place. We should point out that the modifications of both Laws (the Anti- terrorism Law and the Military Law), as submitted to the Chilean Congress, do not present substantial improvements in comparison with the existing legislation and are certainly not in accordance with international terrorism standards and the recommendations made to Chile by different human rights organizations and UN organs. These are some of the reflections made by the Observatorio Ciudadano, Chilean NGO and member of the FIDH (Fédération Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l’Homme) and the OMCT (World Organization Against Torture).