Mapuche hunger strike ends

October 5, 2010

Mapuche protests are often met with a violent police response © Flickr user antitezo, Creative Commons license

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Many of the 34 Mapuche prisoners on hunger strike in Chile have ended their protest, after reaching an agreement with the Chilean government.

Around ten of the prisoners, however, say they will continue, though officials say they are confident that talks with these prisoners will be satisfactorily resolved by the end of the week.

The 82-day strike was in protest against the government’s use of strict anti-terror legislation to criminalize attempts by the Mapuche to recover their ancestral land.

Charges brought against the prisoners under the anti-terror law have now been withdrawn, and they will instead be brought to trial under standard criminal law.

A statement by Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati, who has facilitated dialogue between the two parties, said, ‘The government has initiated legal reforms aimed at modifying the so called ‘anti-terrorist law’ and the act (that allows) trials of civilians by military tribunals.’

More than 100 Mapuche activists are currently held in Chilean jails awaiting trials for crimes against property. Many are motivated by the government’s decision to sell off their land to logging companies and farmers without their consent.

Natividad Llanquileo, a spokeswoman for the strikers, said, ‘This strike is just one more act in the Mapuche’s process of reconstruction, this is why they should be alive.’