As part of a worldwide action in support of Mapuche political prisoner Patricia Troncoso, now close to death after a hunger strike of more than 105 days, protesters assembled outside the Chilean Consulate-General in Melbourne to publicise the plight of the Mapuche Indigenous people of Chile/Argentina and deliver a letter for the Chilean Government demanding the release of the more than 20 activists now held as politivcal prisoners, as well as an end to repression and dispossession of their traditional lands. Police were in place well before protesters arrived, and initially announced that protesters would not be allowed to deliver their letter except via a police officer, but after some negotiation the Consul agreed to allow Chilean nationals only to enter the 13th floor, although maintaining an absolute ban on cameras. In the event he reportedly claimed that the issue was nothing to do with him, and reserved the right to suppress the letter if he found it contained anything ‘inappropriate’.
There is video of this protest (in English and Spanish) on YouTube – at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNew3IumqQ
and background to the Mapuche struggle on Lasnet (http://latinlasnet.org)
Here is part of the text of the protest media release:
MAPUCHE POLITICAL PRISONERS ON HUNGER STRIKE
Mapuche political prisoners Jaime Marileo, Patricia Troncoso, Juan Millalen, Hector LLaitul and Jose
Huenchunao, secluded in the jail of Angol (southern Chile), had commenced a hunger strike last
October 10, 2007 to demand the release of more than 20 indigenous Mapuche activists political
prisoners, end to the militarization of the traditional Mapuche territories; and an end to repression
against Mapuche activists and communities.
“The objective of the hunger strike is to demand the freedom of all the Mapuche Political Prisoners, as well as denouncing the harassment and militarization of the Mapuche Territories. Moreover, this action is to denounce the framing that has been implemented to condemn our people of different crimes. [...]
Today after three months of this action, Patricia Troncoso still carried out the hunger strike in a very delicate health condition; she is 26 kilos less and is in the hospital just waiting answers from the Chilean government or die. She declared; if her death contributed to the liberation of the Mapuche people she will keep her action. “Patricia Troncoso medical report stated …Her health is now seriously deteriorating, she is experiencing considerable weight loss, her basic bodily functions are beginning to fail, and she is currently falling in and out of consciousness and periodically unable to speak.” As International Organisation Against Torture has been reported:
“Patricia Troncoso who began her fast in early October was taken to the hospital from her jail in the
southern city of Angol to treat her deteriorating heath. She and three others were found guilty of
“terrorism” for a series of “[so-]called” arson attacks on Mapuche lands, but owned by forestry companies.Their first trial ended in a mistrial, while in the second prosecutors used the testimony of an anonymous hooded witness to get a conviction. The four were charged and sentenced under a set of anti-terrorism laws passed during the Pinochet dictatorship. Efforts to reduce their charges from terrorism failed after negotiations broke down between the Mapuche, senators and the government. The Mapuche want prosecutors to stop using the anti-terrorist act. They are also demanding the return of Mapuche lands, currently in the hands of forestry companies be returned to Mapuche communities. The government says it is willing to listen and negotiate but not “under pressure”, now the government is waiting for Patricia Troncoso’s death”.
The Chilean media is shamefully censoring the plight of the Mapuche people, for reasons of selfinterest and neoliberal policy. Economic and political benefits are keeping the Mapuche efficiently suppressed; it would not do well for the media to publicise the Mapuches’ protests concerning the restitution of ancestral land, when that land is currently producing a lot of profit for large companies and greedy capitalists, such as the forestry industry.
We appeal to the international community and to those humanitarian organisations that follow the
principles of democracy and human rights to end these injustices by demanding from the Chilean
government urgent clarification to these grave concerns.
We urgently request support in any way as possible, assisting to the rally this Friday January 25, 12
noon at the Chilean Consulate in Melbourne, 390 St. Kilda Rd., St Kilda. Organising activities in you city or state, sign the petitions and write letters, emails and faxes to the Chilean authorities (addresses below) expressing your concern and demanding the release of all Mapuche political prisoners and respect their lives.
Help to save the life of Patricia Troncoso
No to mining, forestry and energy exploitation on Historic Mapuche Territory!
Stop the destruction of Mapuche Land!
The people mobilising and demanding its rights…achieve victories!
Building solidarity with Latin America and grassroots movements in our region
Chilean Popular and Indigenous Network
Co-organised with Latin American Solidarity Network (LASNET)
More info: Contact Marisol on 0413 597 315 or write to
Mrs. Michelle Bachelet
President of Chile
Palacio de La Moneda
Tel: 0011 56 2 690 4000
Fax: 0011 56 2 690 41 38
Fax: 0011 56 2 690 4958
Carta a la Presidenta online = http://www.gobiernodechile.cl/contacto/contacto.asp
Mr. Edmundo Prez Yoma
Minister of Internat Affairs
Palacio de La Moneda,
Tel: 0011 56 2 690 4000
Fax: 0011 56 2 6904 958
Fax: 0011 56 2 699 2165
Mr. Alejandro Foxley Rioseco,
Minister of foreign Affairs,
Catedral 1158, Piso 3, Santiago, Chile,
Fax: 0011 56 2 696 87 96,
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com