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CHILE
Mapuche protest grows stronger
9/29/2010
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ECLAC denounces injustices suffered by indigenous groups.

Mapuche protests escalated as demonstrators occupied the offices of the International Labor Organization and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, or ECLAC – two United Nations agencies – as hunger strikes continued for more than 75 days.

Thirty-four Mapuche prisoners are in the midst of a hunger strike to protest the government´s application of a Pinochet-era anti-terrorism law to Mapuche activists during the 2000-2006 government of Ricardo Lagos, who burned privately owned forestland they claimed as their ancestral territory. Three opposition lawmakers have also joined in the hunger strike in protest.

The Mapuches have long said that they had been simply defending their ancestral homelands and the jailed Mapuches have declared themselves political prisoners.

In a statement on Sept. 28, ECLAC called for a rapid conclusion to the protests and said that Mapuches, and other indigenous groups, have suffered “historic injustices.”

“Despite the legal and legislative progress made in Latin America on the rights of indigenous peoples in the past few decades, there is still a significant lag in the implementation of those rights, and Chile is no exception in this regard,” it said. “Among the advances made, it is noteworthy that Chile is a signatory to [ILO] Convention 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, whose text imposes upon Governments the obligation to ‘consult the peoples concerned, through appropriate procedures and in particular through their representative institutions, whenever consideration is being given to legislative or administrative measures which may affect them directly.’"

International human rights groups including Amnesty International, the International Federation of Human Rights, and the World Organization against Torture have called for the government of President Sebastián Piñera to fully address the striking prisoners´ demands, and noted that several UN agencies have repeatedly expressed worry about the discrimination faced by Chile´s Mapuche population.

Chile´s Attorney General is seeking up to around 100 years for some of the Mapuches´ alleged crimes.
–Latinamerica Press.


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