State of Chile must guarantee the right to life and health to Mapuches on hunger strike

Open Letter
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Open letter

Paris, Santiago de Chile, 30 July 2020

Mr Sebastián Piñera Echenique
President of Chile

Mr. Hernán Larraín Fernández
Minister of Justice and Human Rights,

Directors of the Temuco and Angol Penitentiary Centres

Re: Concern about the situation of the Mapuche community members on hunger strike in the context of a pandemic

FIDH - the International Federation for Human Rights-, writes to express its concern about the serious situation of nine Mapuche community members on hunger strike and imprisoned in the Angol and Temuco Penitentiary Centres (5 charged and 4 convicted) for causes related to the territorial claims of the Mapuche people.

The nine community members are currently in an extremely vulnerable situation due to the current pandemic, as well as in a very delicate health situation due to the hunger strike, which has caused symptoms such as headache, nausea, recurrent vomiting, fluid intolerance, cramps and insomnia, circumstances that according to the Observatorio Ciudadano (Citizens’ Observatory), are duly substantiated. [1]

The nine Mapuche community members, Sergio Levinao Levinao, Víctor Llanquile Pilquimán, Juan Queipul Millanao, Juan Calbucoy Montanares, Freddy Marileo Marileo, Danilo Nahuelpi Millanao, Reinaldo Penchulef Sepúlveda, Hantu Llanca Quidel and Machi Celestino Córdova Transito [2] have been on liquid hunger strike for over 80 days, to demand compliance with Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization (ILO). These demands include establishing alternatives to imprisonment, so that they can serve their sentences or preventive measures in their communities. In turn, the nine Mapuche people request that Ministry of Justice Regulation 518, 1998 on Prisons be amended, since it does not recognise the special characteristics of imprisoned persons who belong to indigenous groups, and thus falls far short of human rights standards.

To date, there are around 30 people belonging to the Mapuche people who are held in prisons and who, in the current context of the Covid-19 pandemic, do not have the minimum health security conditions inside the prisons and are at high risk of contagion.

In the context of the pandemic, FIDH has already taken a stance [3] in the case of the Mapuche members of the Temulemu community, Carlos Pichún Collonao, Eduardo Márquez Inan, Cristofer Pino Cunin, Victor Marileo Ancapi, requesting their immediate release and recalling that the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Nelson Mandela Rules) and the joint statement from the UN, WHO, UNAIDS and OHCHR on COVID-19 in prisons or other detention centres on 13 May 2020 [4] consider that imprisoned persons must be preserved and protected, since they are in a situation of extreme vulnerability.

For all the above reasons, FIDH respectfully invites you to:
 Take alternative measures that include house arrest, aimed at the current Mapuche prisoners who are in pretrial detention and on hunger strike, taking into account their situation of extreme vulnerability in the context of the COVID-19
- Provide medical assistance to the imprisoned Mapuche people in accordance with international human rights standards, and with their cultural particularities and practices, as stipulated in articles 8, 9 and 10 of the ILO Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989
- Conduct an impartial investigation that takes into account the principles of presumption of innocence, due process, and is in strict compliance with the principles of legality, necessity and proportionality of the sentence.
- Set up a direct dialogue between the government authorities, the Mapuche strikers and their spokespersons, in order to respect the international human rights instruments ratified by Chile

Yours sincerely,
Gloria Cano Legua, DNI 21404682
Secretary General, FIDH

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