Petition in support of Pascual Pichún
This petition will be handed over on June 23rd at both the Chilean Embassy in Belgium and the Chilean consulate in Argentina.
The organisations below demand Freedom for Pascual Pichún Collonao, political Mapuche Prisoner (1).
Pascual Pichún Collonao is a 27-year-old Mapuche communicator and student of the Faculty of Journalism, La Plata National University, Argentina. Pascual had been in Argentina since 2005, where he obtained a temporary residence permit from the Argentine authorities. He is a fourth-year student, works ad honorem in the Human Rights Secretariat of the Faculty of Journalism, and is involved in a number of the university´s community outreach projects. As an indigenous communicator he participates in several dialogue platforms in defense of indigenous peoples´ rights.
On February 26 of this year, Pascual was arrested by police intelligence personnel in Temuco, Chile, and he is now being held in the jail of Traiguén, along with other Mapuche political prisoners (1).
Chili has an anti-terrorist law (2) which dictator Pinochet (1973-1990) made to pursue political opponents. This law is currently only being used against Mapuche-people. By applying this anti-terrorist law more than 70 Mapuche-indigenous are now behind bars.
Similarly, Pascual´s father, the lonko of the community (traditional political leader) had been sentenced under the anti-terrorism law which imposes penalties that are three times higher than the ones for ordinary crimes. Today, Mapuche communities denounce this law as being used exclusively for cases related to the mobilization of the Mapuche people in Chile, and identify the case of the Pichún family as one of the most emblematic examples of unjust judicial and political persecution by the Chilean state.
We demand the immediate release of Pascual Pichún and the cessation of hostilities to his family and his people. No more political prisoners in Democracy, No to the dictatorial anti-terrorism law which was and continues to be used to suppress political and indigenous activists.
We demand that the rights of indigenous people in Chile be respected, since today they suffer restricted citizenship that is contrary to democratic values and principles.
Freedom for Pascual and all political prisoners of the State of Chile!
No to Pinochet's anti-terrorism law!
The Mapuche are a minority in Chile. In total there are about one million Mapuches, about 6,8 per cent of the total Chilean population. The conflict between the Mapuche and the Chilean government mainly has to do with land claims. The Mapuche are the original inhabitants of the Araucanía-region. In 1881 the indigenous population had to hand over their most fertile lands and were placed in reserves.
They regained their lands partly under the government of Allende (1970-1973), but after the coup by Pinochet the land reform was turned back. Since the nineties they took up their struggle again to regain their lands.
This law violates the guarantee of due process, and allows military courts to judge civilians using "faceless" witnesses, which openly violates the independence and impartiality required by the human rights treaties ratified by Chile, including the Pact of San José, Costa Rica. At the same time, other legal instruments that safeguard the rights of the Indigenous Peoples at the international level such as ILO Convention 169, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, are disregarded. Mr. Rodolfo Stavenhagen, Special Rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council on indigenous peoples, urged the Chilean government not to apply charges such as terrorism to other contexts, such as "acts related to social struggle for land and legitimate indigenous claims".