Chile: Mapuche editor imprisoned

Another escalation is reported in the persecution of the Mapuche indigenous people of Chile: the imprisonment of the editor of a Mapuche magazine on six-year-old charges related to a land occupation, effectively preventing him from travelling to Canada for a meeting of Native journalists. This June 16 account is from Reporteros Sin Fronteras (RSF) and the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX):

Director of indigenous people’s magazine jailed a second time for same case
RSF has expressed concern for Pedro Cayuqueo Millaqueo, director of the Mapuche magazine “Azkintuwe”, who has been imprisoned in TraiguĆ©n, southern Chile, since 2 June 2005. This is the second time that the journalist has been incarcerated over the same charges. Cayuqueo is also an activist who has fought for the return of the Mapuche people’s ancestral lands.

On 2 June, at around 8:00 a.m. (local time), police officers arrested Cayuqueo in Nueva Imperial. The director of “Azkintuwe” was first detained for several hours at the local police station before being transferred to the TraiguĆ©n prison. His arrest and incarceration came as he was trying to obtain an exit visa in order to participate in a meeting of First Nations journalists in Vancouver, Canada, from 14 to 24 June, for which he had received an invitation.

According to “Azkintuwe”, Cayuqueo was jailed on the orders of a TraiguĆ©n judge, following his failure to acquit himself of a fine he had received in 1999. At the time, members of the Mapuche communities of Temulemu, El Pantano and Didaico de TraiguĆ©n had occupied lands they claimed to have been dispossessed of that were being used by a company called Forestal Mininco. Cayuqueo had been present at the scene during the standoff. In October 2003, he was convicted on charges of “appropriation of lands” and “possession of stolen wood” and sentenced to 61 days in prison and a fine. He launched “Azkintuwe” magazine during this period.

On 22 January 2004, the journalist was arrested a first time. He served his prison sentence but did not pay the fine. Two hundred copies of “Azkintuwe” were seized at the time and never returned.

Under the terms of the TraiguĆ©n judge’s latest order, Cayuqueo is obliged to spend 41 nights in jail. He started serving his sentence at TraiguĆ©n prison on 2 June 2005. The prison is located 90 km from his home. The journalist’s request to be transferred to a location closer to his family was denied.

See our last post on the Mapuche struggle.