Support Pascual Pichún Collonao, a political indigenous Mapuche prisoner!

[img_assist|nid=407|title=Pascual Pichún|desc=|link=node|align=left|width=150|height=101]On February 26th of this year Pascual was detained by officers of the intelligence service in Temuco, Chili, and is now being held in the prison of Traiguén, together with other political Mapuche prisoners.

His lawyer has filed a request to diminish his original punishment of 5 years imprisonment. Chilean justice has now one month before the verdict. It helps to put pressure on the Chilean authorities. More info you find here.
What can you do?

1. Sign the support declaration below Link
2. Send e-mails and faxes to the institutions involved Link to model letter.
3. Besides Pascual more than 70 political Mapuche prisoners are being detained. Join the manifestation on June 23rd at the Brussels Chilean Embassy.

Pascual Pichún Collonao, a political Mapuche prisoner(1)

Pascual was living in Argentina, awaiting political asylum. Argentina never granted his asylum and in February he returned to Chile to support the struggles of his family and his people. However, the Chilean intelligence service was quick to arrest him and sent him to jail.

His lawyer has requested reduction of the original prison term of 5 years. The Chilean justice now has one month to reach a verdict. Therefore, the Argentine commission 'Pascual Libre' has started a campaign to put pressure on the Chilean authorities. To reinforce this call out, we can support this campaign from abroad.
Chili has an anti-terrorist law (2) which dictator Pinochet (1973-1990) made to pursue political opponents. This law is currently only being used against Mapuche-people. By applying this anti-terrorist law more than 70 Mapuche-indigenous are now behind bars.

Pascual is considered a fugitive from Chilean justice since 2003, when he was sentenced to five years and one day in prison, along with his brother Rafael Pichún. He was convicted in a clearly unfair trial, accused of setting fire to a logging truck in 2002 near the village where he lived with his family. Although the truck driver initially declared that he did not recognize the 'attackers', in later declarations he directly accused the Pichún brothers, who had been violently detained only a few hours after the occurrences. They were held until 2003 in pre-trial detention for more than one year.

Similarly, Pascual´s father had been sentenced under the anti-terrorism law which imposes penalties that are three times higher than the ones for ordinary crimes. Today, Mapuche communities denounce this law as being used exclusively for cases related to the mobilization of the Mapuche people in Chile, and identify the case of the Pichún family as one of the most emblematic examples of unjust judicial and political persecution by the Chilean state.
Trailer of the documentary on the court case against Pascual's father - Besieged Land: http://vimeo.com/10266148

(1)
The Mapuche are a minority in Chile. In total there are about one million Mapuches, about 6,8 per cent of the total Chilean population. The conflict between the Mapuche and the Chilean government mainly has to do with land claims. The Mapuche are the original inhabitants of the Araucanía-region. In 1881 the indigenous population had to hand over their most fertile lands and were placed in reserves.
They regained their lands partly under the government of Allende (1970-1973), but after the coup by Pinochet the land reform was turned back. Since the nineties they took up their struggle again to regain their lands.

(2)
This law violates the guarantee of due process, and allows military courts to judge civilians using "faceless" witnesses, which openly violates the independence and impartiality required by the human rights treaties ratified by Chile, including the Pact of San José, Costa Rica. At the same time, other legal instruments that safeguard the rights of the Indigenous Peoples at the international level such as ILO Convention 169, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, are disregarded. Mr. Rodolfo Stavenhagen, Special Rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council on indigenous peoples, urged the Chilean government not to apply charges such as terrorism to other contexts, such as "acts related to social struggle for land and legitimate indigenous claims".

For more information:
- For information on Pascual Pichun's petition for political asylum in Argentina, 2005: http://www.wrm.org.uy/bulletin/103/Argentina_Chile.html

- blog in Spanish: http://pascuallibre.blogspot.com/

- Audio in Spanish: http://radio.mapuche.nl/audio/1_136.m3u

- Video on the resistance of the mapuche community in Ralco. The Spanish company ENDESA planned the construction of 7 dams in Mapuche territory that would inundate an ancestral cemetery. Because of the resistance during 2002-2004 only 1 dam could be realized. However, now ENDESA continues to try the implementation of its original plans: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCmQf5hcPUo