“Even today, we are hostages of states that do not recognize our Mapuche nationality”

Mapuche Nation condemned the states of Argentina and Chile before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the genocide of the Indigenous people of the community

April 25, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
Juana Calfunao Paillaléf with Baltasar Garzón

A delegation of the Mapuche Nation, headed by Mapuche leader and authority Juana Calfunao Paillaléf, condemned before the International Criminal Court (ICC) the states of Argentina and Chile for the genocide of the Indigenous people of the community. In a meeting held on April 11 at the ICC office in The Hague in the Netherlands, Calfunao presented a set of documents pertaining to the systematic abuse of human rights and state persecution of the Mapuche people.

In the document, citing a number of instances, the Mapuche community denounced the increase in criminalization of their leaders, who struggle for the defense of their ancestral territories. They also condemned the murders, arbitrary detentions, disappearance, kidnapping, torture and other human rights violations committed by the governments of Sebastián Piñera (Chile) and Mauricio Macri (Argentina) against the Mapuche people.

The complaint also included documents on abductions, illegal sale and adoption to foreign families of more than 10,000 stolen Mapuche children.

In addition, they condemned the mainstream media for its misinformation campaigns that aim to stigmatize the Mapuche people, whom they refer to as “terrorists” or “traitors of the motherland”.

The delivery of documents to the ICC was made possible due to the efforts made by the prince of the kingdom of Araucanía and Patagonia, Frédéric Luz.

At present, there are around 20 Mapuche political prisoners serving time in Chilean jails. Their ‘crime’ is protesting the forestry plantations or construction of other infrastructure on their ancestral lands. This is considered an offense under a law passed during Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship.

Just like other Mapuche people, Calfunao was also sentenced to 150 days in prison in 2006 for protesting the construction of a private road on the community’s land. Earlier, in 2000, she was illegally detained and tortured. In addition, her family members were also persecuted or imprisoned. “Even today, we are hostages of states that do not recognize our Mapuche nationality”, Calfunao told the Guardian.

Calfunao personally met with the head prosecutor of the ICC, Baltasar Garzón, who expressed his support for the struggle of the Mapuche people for justice at the ICC. Garzón is the Spanish judge who issued an international warrant for the arrest of Augusto Pinochet in 1998, while he was in the United Kingdom for medical treatment. Although the British government refused to extradite him, it was the first time that a former head of government was arrested on the principle of universal jurisdiction.

Garzón also assisted Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who was recently arrested at the Ecuadorian embassy by the London police, after president Lenin Moreno withdrew the asylum granted to him in 2012. Assange, along with former US soldier and whistle-blower Chelsea Elizabeth Manning, exposed American war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The meeting has ignited hope in the Mapuche community as the ICC has the mandate to investigate and ensure justice to the victims of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war and aggression.