Bristol Campaign Group Heads for London

by James Edwards
on Wednesday 01 Jun 2011

type: Press Release
topic: Protests
region: Bristol
Bristol based human rights organisation Mapuche International Link will this week (Thursday, June 2nd) hold a demonstration march outside the Chilean Embassy in London. The march will be a public display of solidarity with four indigenous land rights activists who will be on their eightieth day of hunger strike in Angol prison, Chile. The men were convicted using the controversial Anti Terrorist Law, used by Chile to target members of its Mapuche minority who campaign for rights over their ancestral land.

Reynaldo Mariqueo is himself a Mapuche who now runs Mapuche International Link from his home in the centre of Bristol. Mr Mariqueo was forced to flea Chile for the United Kingdom during the seventies after being persecuted by General Augusto Pinochet’s fascist regime. Yesterday he had this to say about the march: “We want to show our support for the men on hunger strike and their families. They are demanding a fair trial without the application of the Anti Terrorist Law, which should never be applied to Mapuche land rights campaigners as they are not terrorists.”

The law has been widely condemned by the international community for allowing the use of anonymous witnesses and the trial of civilians in military courts. It was introduced by General Pinochet as a way of stifling democratic dissent during his regime. On Friday, June 3rd, the Chilean Supreme Court will decide whether or not the four men on hunger strike will be granted a retrial. Mapuche International Link and other campaign groups have stepped up their efforts to raise awareness as the day of this ruling approaches. Werken Mariqueo, whose title means ‘special envoy’ in Mapundungun, last week presented a letter of protest to a Chilean government representative which stated: “The Mapuche leaders believe that their sentence is unjust, completely groundless and has only been made possible by the unconscionable Anti Terrorist Law”. MIL had hoped to present the letter to the Chilean ambassador in person but were told that he was too busy “having his lunch” to receive them.

All four Mapuche activists are seriously ill and require constant medical care. Tomorrow will be their eightieth day without food and it is not known whether they will be able to survive the ordeal. Please show your opposition to Chile’s use of the draconian Anti Terrorist Law against its indigenous people by joining our protest, which will take place on Thursday, June 2nd in front of the Chilean embassy (37-41 Old Queen St, London SW1H 9JA), between 1.00 and 2.00pm.