Sunday, September 12, 2010

Chile's government is pushing in an attempt to bring to an end a 60 days hunger strike by Mapuche Indigenous.

No Dialogue in Mapuche Conflict in Chile.
Written by Daniela Estrada
(IPS) - The Chilean government is pushing through legal reforms in an attempt to bring to an end a nearly two month hunger strike by 34 Mapuche indigenous prisoners. But it is failing to address two critical aspects of the conflict: the lack of effective dialogue and a failure to recognise it as a political problem.

"The Mapuche people's demands don't only have to do with the Mapuche. It's a problem of Chilean society as a whole," José Araya, coordinator of the Citizenship and Intercultural Programme of the Observatorio Ciudadano (Citizen Observatory, a local NGO), told IPS.

A group of Mapuche inmates who describe themselves as political prisoners declared a hunger strike on Jul. 12. They were gradually joined by others, to reach a total of 34 fasters, held in different prisons in southern Chile.

The hunger strikers, who are in prison on charges of terrorist arson, attempted homicide, bodily injury, invasion of property, threats and illicit association, were tried under the country's controversial counter-terrorism law which limits the rights of defendants.

After being virtually ignored by government officials and the media, the Mapuche protesters became a source of concern due to the international impact of their hunger strike and the possibility that the death of one of the fasters could tarnish the national celebrations of Chile's 200th anniversary of independence from Spain, on Sept. 18 and 19.

To try to solve the conflict, rightwing President Sebastián Piñera sent Congress a bill on Tuesday to reform the military justice system. And on Thursday he plans to introduce a bill that would overhaul the counter-terrorism law, which was issued in 1984 by the dictatorship of late Gen. Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990) and was only partially reformed after the return to democracy.

The first bill would keep civilians from being tried by the military courts, one of the foremost demands of the hunger strikers and an unfulfilled obligation of the Chilean state, which was ordered by a 2005 Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling.

The second bill would remove some of the offences of which the hunger strikers are accused from the category of "terrorism", and would reduce the stiff penalties outlined by the anti-terrorism law.

The law allows secret judicial investigations, lets witnesses conceal their identity while testifying, and provides for longer periods of arrest on remand and extremely heavy sentences.

According to Araya, the legal reforms that the government is proposing are "overdue responsibilities of the state" that have been called for by numerous international human rights bodies, and which would benefit society as a whole.

But the Mapuche hunger strikers, who are now in a critical state of health, say they will continue the protest until their cases are removed from the sphere of the counter-terrorism law and until the government agrees to engage in talks and to set up a body that would monitor compliance with the agreements reached.

"Revocation of the anti-terrorism law is the only way to move towards a basic dialogue that would allow this to be dealt with as a political, not legal, problem," Igor Goicovic, a professor of history at the University of Santiago, told IPS.

Goicovic was one of the drafters of a declaration in support of the Mapuche people, which was signed by 180 historians from Chile and abroad.

"We are saying that this is a political conflict" that dates back far before the current situation of the Mapuche prisoners, the professor said. "It is over four centuries old, and cannot be resolved by the 'criminalisation' of the Mapuche protests by means of anti-terrorist legislation."

Even legislators of the centre-left Coalition of Parties for Democracy have deplored the lack of talks between the government and the Mapuche people, despite the fact that the Coalition governed the country from 1990 until March this year and itself applied the counter-terrorism law against indigenous protesters.

Piñera himself, on Tuesday, and other members of his government have called on the Mapuche inmates to call off their hunger strike, and said the reforms they are demanding would be treated with urgency in Congress. But they are evading direct talks with the fasters, using churches and other actors as mediators instead.

The line of argument followed by the democratic governments that have ruled Chile since 1990 is that violent groups represent a small minority within the one-million strong Mapuche community, and that the main problem involving the country's largest indigenous group is reducing the high poverty levels that they face.

In the late 19th century, Mapuche lands in southern Chile were wrested from them by force by the state. A century later, in the early 1990s, Mapuche communities and organisations began to lay claim to their ancestral territories through a strategy of occupying private lands they regard as their own, which are often in the hands of lumber companies, and protesting logging and mining initiatives and garbage dumps with serious environmental impacts installed near their communities.

The Mapuche also consider insufficient the 667,457 hectares of land restored to them by government since 1994.

Some indigenous organisations are also demanding respect for political and cultural rights, and have put forth proposals that would give them a certain level of autonomy.

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Solidarity Poster for Polykarpos Georgiadis and Vaggelis Chrisohoidis (greece)

did anyone speak of a
“…A handful of capitalists
have organized a criminal gang
and have kidnapped the proletarians,
demanding for ransom
their labor force,
merchandising their human activity,
their time (which is turned into money),
their own being itself…”
to vaggelis Chrisohoidis and Polykarpos Georgiadis
who the persecuting authorities, exactly because they denied to betray values and people,
accuse them as participators in the kidnapping of industrialist Milonas
anarchists from Serres from north-greece

Anarchists solidarity protest outside Korydallos prison, the main prison in Athens, at the time of the change of the year. This protest happens every New Year's Eve for the past six years. This year more than 400 people took part in the protest that interacted with the prisoners inside through shouting mutual slogans and fireworks. The main slogan was "The passion for freedom is stronger that your prisons".
Watch live streaming video from agitprop at

A society that punishes/the condition of incarceration/the prison of the mind/the prison as punishment/the rage of the damned will sound on the ruins of prisons/those denying obedience and misery of our era even within its hellholes/will dance together on the ruins of every last prison/with the flame of rebellion avenging whatever creates prisons.

To the prisoners struggle already counting one dead and thousands in hunger strike across greece, we stand in solidarity and anger until the destruction of every last prison.



Keny Arkana - La Rage English Subtitles

1976 - 2000 Greek Anarchists Fight for Freedom

(December Riots in Greece)