Chile: 20 arrested at Mapuche prisoner’s hearing

Chilean authorities suspended a hearing for indigenous Mapuche prisoner Fernando Millacheo Marín on Feb. 12 after some 20 of Millacheo’s supporters, including women and children, were detained outside the courthouse in Collipulli in the southern Araucanía region’s Malleco province. Police agents attacked the crowd of about 50 protesters with a water cannon, according to Mapuche sources, and beat several women and handcuffed an 11-year-old. The detainees were charged with public disorder, and Millacheo’s hearing was postponed to Feb. 15. The authorities said the protesters caused the clash by hurling rocks at police agents, but Mapuche activists countered that the detentions were part of a wave of repression that included the arrest of Jaime Huenchullan, werken (spokesperson) for the Temucuicui autonomous community, along with an unnamed French national, while they were on their way to the hearing.

As of Feb. 16 Millacheo had been on hunger strike for 55 days and reportedly had lost 15 kg (33 lb). He is awaiting trial on charges of robbery, arson and attempted murder in incidents that occurred at the Chiguaigüe estate on June 16, 2012. Millacheo says he is innocent, and Mapuche activists consider him a political prisoner. This is his second hunger strike since his imprisonment: he participated in a hunger strike with four other Mapuche prisoners in the prison in Temuco in October. On Feb. 16 Millacheo demanded a new doctor, charging that he had been subjected to “racist treatment” by Roberto Baos Somarriba, a physician at the El Manzano prison in Concepción. (BBC News, Feb. 12; Kaos en la Red, Feb. 14; Diarioladiscusió, Chile, Feb. 17)

Another Mapuche prisoner, Héctor Llaitul Carillanca, agreed to end a 76-day hunger strike on Jan. 28 after meeting for several hours with representatives of national and international organizations supporting Mapuche rights; the group included Llaitul’s mother, Florinda Carillanca, and his wife, Pamela Pezoa. Llaitul heads the Arauco Malleco Coordinating Committee (CAM), a militant organization pressing for restitution of traditional Mapuche lands. Visitors had said on Jan. 26 that the activist was near death. Another CAM hunger striker, Ramón Llanquileo Pilquimán, ended his fast on Jan. 31, also after 76 days. Agreeing to at least one of Llanquileo’s demands, prison authorities restored his access to weekend leaves starting on Feb. 8. (ORBE, Chile, Jan. 28, via Terra, Chile; Radio Universidad de Chile, Feb. 7)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 17.