“Desde mi última visita a Chile la situación del pueblo mapuche y de sus derechos ha empeorado”: Mireille Fanon Méndes-France

The visit to Chile of Mireille Fanon Méndes –France comes to an end – the situation of the Mapuche people has worsened

Graves retrocesos en la situación del pueblo mapuche y de sus derechos identificó la jurista francesa y experta internacional en derechos humanos, Mireille Fanon Méndes-France, tras concluir una Misión Humanitaria organizada por la Comisión Ética Contra la Tortura / CECT-Chile y su Secretariado Exterior, que incluyó a una visita a La Araucanía (del lunes 6 al viernes 9 de mayo), reuniones con organizaciones de la sociedad civil y un recorrido por cárceles donde se encuentran los presos políticos mapuche, entre ellos los recluidos en penal de Angol que llevan más de un mes en huelga de hambre.

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“Since my last visit to Chile the situation of the Mapuche people and their rights has worsened”: Mireille Fanon Méndes-France

Her visit comes within the context of a month long held hunger strike of Mapuche prisoners in the jail of the city of Angol, recently joined by the machi [traditional healer] Celestino Cordova after the Supreme Court rejected the appeal for annulment of his oral trial presented by his defense.

Paulina Acevedo M., Observatorio Ciudadano (Citizen’s Observatory), May 13, 2014.- 

Serious setbacks in the situation of the Mapuche people and their rights identified French jurist and expert on international human rights, Mireille Fanon-Méndes France, after completing a humanitarian mission organized by the Ethical Commission Against Torture / CECT-Chile and it’s Exterior Secretariat , which included a visit to La Araucanía [Region] (Monday 6 to Friday 9 of May), meetings with civil society organizations and a tour of prisons where the Mapuche political prisoners are held, including those incarcerated in the Algol prison who are carrying a more than a month long hunger strike.

Fanon Méndes-France highlighted among these violations of indigenous rights the persistent use of the anti-terrorism law, ascertaining that “the state has found a covert way of using this law, by applying all of its special powers during the investigative process and trial, even though at the end, not admitting the classification of terrorism in the characterization of the facts. Thus, the Chilean state signs commitments and contracts compliance obligations of treaties undersigned with the international community; yet in Chile it denies the possibility of incorporating these standards into domestic, national law, making them become dead letter”, she said. On the other

hand, she adds, “counsel cannot exercise the right of defense; as there is evidence enabled to be admitted by this special law, as is the use of anonymous witnesses which openly violate due process”.

According to the jurist, the above is “a strategy aimed at criminalizing the Mapuche, but also the Chileanswho think differently. Signaling to the whole of Chilean society that those people -particularly the Mapuche – are internal enemies, designating them as criminals, this also causes and increases xenophobia against them. It is, in short, to place a cross on their political demands” she said.

She also warns of the “permanent desire (of the state) to integrate the Mapuche by force, without recognizing their particularities and culture, in order to continue stealing their land for the benefit of transnational corporations. If the Chilean state continues with this type of policy it will not only bedenounced for applying the anti-terrorism law, but also for violating all of the fundamental rights of the Mapuche people. We have to get out of this colonialism that the Chilean state has not rid itself of”, she said.

Finally, Fanon Méndes-France sustained that unless a brake is put on this criminalization, it can quickly be applied and spread to other population groups critical to the system. “If you look at everything that is going on with the Chilean students; If you see the way the state has treated people of African descent in the north or immigrants; of small scale fishers, we see repressive practices that are being installed. In order to maintain its hegemony the Chilean state has no other means than dividing, excluding,criminalizing the population, even murdering them, using special laws and false witnesses to incriminate them and thus with one stroke place a gag in all will to resist. Making this the new way found by states to settle their capitalist and hegemonic policies”, she said.

Meanwhile Juana Aguilera, president of CECT, called on the Chilean President to take all measures to ensure the rights of indigenous peoples. “As CECT we believe the government has the opportunity to regain lost trust. To make truth the words of Huenchumilla [Governor of the Araucaria Region – making reference to his opening statement as appointed governor in regards to the errors of the past towards the Mapuche people] and for them to be translated into concrete actions. First and foremost, urgentlydemilitarizing the Wallmapu [traditional Mapuche territory]; then the constitutional recognition ofindigenous peoples, the freedom of the Mapuche political prisoners and improving their current prison conditions, as they have been judged in a context of serious faults to due process and absolute disregard for international standards. For this same reason, very soon the state will almost certainly be condemned by the Inter-American Court, for the three clustered cases that are on the verge of being decided by the Court”.

As for the extended hunger strike maintained by Mapuche community members which has been joined by the machi [traditional healer] Celestino, Aguilera said, “[President] Bachelet cannot allow any political prisoner to die in this new hunger strike, she must create the conditions for dialogue and reprieve in casesof serious illness. Moreover, the Justice Minister has to understand that the solution is not to build another jail, but to respond to the rights that are inherent to indigenous peoples, including those that guaranteetheir differentiated rights in the context of incarceration”, she said.

Agenda of the Mission

Mireille Fanon Méndes-France held meetings in the cities of Temuco, Angol, Lebu and El Manzano withhuman rights and civil society organizations, with immigrants and Afro-descents, as well as participated inmeetings organized by post-secondary centers in Temuco, Concepción and Santiago. She was alsoreceived by government authorities and the National Institute of Human Rights, she visited the small scale fishers of San Antonio in the context of sustainable food and the rights of those who’s sustain comes from the sea.

Finally, she participated in the symposium “53 Years after the Death of the Author of The Wretched of the Earth, the Relevance of the Anti-colonial Struggle” where Mireille Fanon Méndes-France, daughter of Frantz Fanon, was accompanied by Enrique Antileo, Sergio Grez, Melisa Sepúlveda and those who are part of the Ethical Commission Against Torture.

 

Brief background of Mireille Fanon Méndes-France

Jurist, President of the Frantz Fanon Foundation; she is a member of the Scientific Council of ATTACFrance and also a member of the National Bureau of French Jewish Union for Peace. She is an independent expert for the Working Group for African – descendants before the Human Rights Council of the United Nations. She served as International Observer at the Trial against militants of theCoordinadora Arauco Malleco that took place in the city of ​​Cañete, in 2010.

 

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