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Open Letter Regarding Trial of Mapuche Elder Francisca Linconao in Chile

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.

Francisco José Eguiguren Praeli, President, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

Dag Hammerskjöld, Regional Representative for South America, United Nations Office of the High Commission for Human Rights

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples

Ben Emmerson, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism

Michel Forst, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders

Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine, Chair, United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

Kristen Carpenter, Member, United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

José Guevara, Chair, United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

Chrystia Freeland, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs

Marcel Leblue, Ambassador of Canada to Chile

Robert Goldman, President, International Commission of Jurists

Miguel Baz, President of the Board of Directors, Avocats Sans Frontières/Lawyers Without Borders Canada

Salil Shetty, Secretary General, Amnesty International

Kenneth Roth, Executive Director, Human Rights Watch

 

August 15, 2017

RE: Need for International Observers at Trial of Mapuche Elder in Chile

We are writing to you today to express our concern with the detention of Mapuche elder and spiritual leader Francisca Linconao. We urge you to send international observers to monitor her trial this fall.

In March 2016, Linconao was arrested and charged under Chile’s anti-terrorism law. Linconao, along with ten other Mapuche, is accused of arson. She insists that she is innocent. [i]

Linconao and the others have senselessly been held without bail since their arrest, a violation of their fundamental rights, which is made possible by the application of the anti-terrorism law. Due to her ailing health, Linconao’s lawyer applied to have her transferred to house arrest. While judges granted her request, the decision was repeatedly overturned on appeal. After a hunger strike, she was released into house arrest in early 2017. Despite a return to house arrest, Linconao is not free. She remains under house arrest, and the other accused Mapuche remain in prison.[ii]

Chile has long been criticized for its use of the anti-terrorism act to circumvent the human rights of Mapuche protesters. Introduced by Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship in 1984, the anti-terrorism act allows government officials and law enforcement to ignore many of the procedural rights of the accused. Among other things, the law allows for long periods of pre-trial detention, the use of anonymous witnesses, and limits on the accused’s ability to access evidence against them. The anti-terrorism laws have also allowed the Chilean courts to issue disproportionately harsh sentences for crimes such as arson and trespassing. Despite the transition to civilian rule in 1989, Chilean authorities have continued to use Pinochet’s anti-terrorist laws against Mapuche land defenders.

This use of anti-terrorism laws to detain Mapuche activists and deny their fundamental procedural rights has been widely criticized. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights condemned Chile’s use of its anti-terrorism law, and ordered Chile to annul sentences issued to several Mapuche leaders.[iii] Several United Nations councils and officials have criticized Chile’s use of anti-terrorism laws against the Mapuche, including the Human Rights Council,[iv] the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination,[v] the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,[vi] Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly, and the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights When Countering Terrorism.[vii] Numerous Non-Government Organizations have made similar criticisms, including the Unrepresented Nations and People’s Organization,[viii] Amnesty International,[ix] and Human Rights Watch.[x]

In response to this criticism, Chilean authorities have apparently committed to reforming the way it applies its anti-terrorism law to Mapuche protesters. However, we believe that Linconao’s experience demonstrates that Chile has yet to halt the use of anti-terrorism legislation to circumvent the human rights of Mapuche.

Under these circumstances we are convinced that fairness and justice can only be secured if there is international attention, including the presence of international human rights observers, at her trial. We urge you to do whatever is in your power to ensure appropriately trained, representative outside observers are present, and to publish a public letter or report upon completion of the trial and judgement.

 

Henry Heller, Professor, Department of History, University of Manitoba

Julie A. Gibbings, Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of Manitoba

David Camfield, Associate Professor, Labour Studies & Sociology, University of Manitoba

Peter Kulchyski, Professor, Department of Native Studies, University of Manitoba

Fred J. Shore, Assistant Professor, Department of Native Studies, University of Manitoba

Radhika Desai, Professor, Department of Political Studies, University of Manitoba

Kathleen Buddle, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Manitoba

Niigaan Sinclair, Associate Professor, Department of Native Studies, University of Manitoba

Jarvis Brownlie, Professor, Department of History, University of Manitoba

Luin Goldring, Professor, Department of Sociology, York University

Liisa L. North, Professor Emeritus, York University (Visiting Professor, FLACSO-Ecuador)

Dr. Ricardo Grinspun, Department of Economics, York University, Toronto, Canada

Shannon Bell, Professor. Department of Political Science, York University

Greg Albo, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, York University

Dr. Alex Wilson, Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Department of Educational Foundations, University of Saskatchewan

Jack Hicks, Adjunct Professor, Community Health and Epidemiology, University of Saskatchewan

Lori Hanson, Associate Professor, Community Health and Epidemiology, University of Saskatchewan

Dr. Robin Roth, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, University of Guelph

Todd Gordon, Assistant Professor, Law and Society and Social Justice and Comminity Engagement, Wilfrid Laurier University

Tyler Shipley, Professor of Culture, Society and Commerce, Humber College, Toronto, Canada

Erin Manning, Professor, Faculty of Fine Arts, Concordia University

Jim Silver, Professor, Department of Urban and Inner-City Studies, University of Winnipeg

Fernanda Ferreira, Professor, Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, professor emerita, California State University

Jeffery R. Webber, Senior Lecturer, School of Politics and International Relations, Queen Mary University of London

Frank Tough, Professor, Department of Native Studies, University of Alberta

Dot Tuer, Professor, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences, OCAD University

Smaro Kamboureli, Professor, Department of English, University of Toronto

Kim Sawchuk, Professor, Communication Studies, Concordia University

Natalie Alvarez, Associate Professor, Department of Dramatic Arts, Brock University

Andrew Wernick, Professor, Department of Cultural Studies, Trent University

Pablo Herrera, President, Las Americas & Chilean Human Rights Council

Simon Bear, Treausurer, Las Americas & Chilean Human Rights Council

Levy Abad, Chair/Coordinator, Winnipeg Multicultural Human Rights

Wanda Nanibush, Curator, Writer, Idle No More

Dru Oja Jay, journalist and community organizer

Ian MacDonald, Community Organizer, Winnipeg MB

Dr. Timothy David Clark, Principal, Willow Springs Strategic Solutions

Deborah Simmons, Executive Director, Sahtú Renewable Resources Board*
*Affiliation provided for identification purposes only

Helene Vosters, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Manitoba, Department of Native Studies

Shelley Liebembuk, Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design, York University, Toronto

Warren Bernauer, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Geography, York University

William Payne, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Geography, York University

Andrew Paul, MA student, Department of Geography, York University, Toronto, Canada

Christian Peacemaker Teams – Indigenous Peoples Solidarity

People’s Health Movement, Canada

Brian Massumi  

Stephanie Nivera

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[i] For more information of Linconao’s case, see: Fontecilla, T.S. (2017). “Chile’s biased counter-terrorism laws: the Luchsinger-Mackay Case”. Washington: Council of Hemispheric Affairs.
http://www.coha.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/LuchsingerFINAL.pdf

[ii] Amnesty International. (2017). “Amnesty International Report 2016/2017: The State of the World’s Human Rights”. London: Amnesty International Ltd. https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/POL1048002017ENGLISH.PDF

[iii] I/A Court H.R., Case of Norín Catrimán et al. (Leaders, members and activist of the Mapuche Indigenous People) v. Chile. Merits, Reparations and Costs. Judgment of May 29, 2014. Series C No. 279. http://www.corteidh.or.cr/docs/casos/articulos/seriec_279_ing.doc

[iv] Human Rights Committee. (2007). “Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee: Chile”. UN Human Rights Council. CCPR/C/CHL/CO/5

[v] United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. (2009). “Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: Chile”. UN Human Rights Council. CERD/C/CHL/CO/15-8

[vi] Stavenhagen, R. (2003). “Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, Mr. Rodolfo Stavenhagen, submitted in accordance with Commission resolution 2003/56 Addendum MISSION TO CHILE”. United Nations Human Rights Council. E/CN.4/2004/80/Add.3 http://acnudh.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Mission-to-Chile-2003.pdf

Anaya, J. (2009). “The situation of indigenous peoples in Chile: follow-up to the recommendations made by the previous Special Rapporteur”. United Nations Human Rights Council. A/HRC/12/34/Add.6  http://unsr.jamesanaya.org/docs/countries/2009_report_chile_en.pdf

[vii] Emmerson, B. (2014). “Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Ben Emmerson: Addendum, Mission to Chile”. United Nations Human Rights Council. A/HRC/25/59/Add.2  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session25/Documents/A.HRC.25.59.Add.2_en.doc

[viii] Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (2014). “Alternative Report to the UN Human Rights Commission for the consideration of the Sixth Report of the Republic of Chile” (February, 2014). http://www.unpo.org/downloads/920.pdf

[ix] Amnesty International. (2017). “Amnesty International Report 2016/2017: The State of the World’s Human Rights”. London: Amnesty International Ltd. https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/POL1048002017ENGLISH.PDF

[x] Human Rights Watch and Indigenous Peoples Rights Watch. (2004). “Undue Process: Terrorism Trials, Military Courts, and the Mapuche in Southern Chile”. October 2004.  https://www.hrw.org/reports/2004/chile1004/chile1004.pdf

 


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