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Solidarity with attacked Mapuche community Juan Paillalef

mapundial just posting | 03.01.2006 19:18 | Culture | Repression | Social Struggles

In the last three days the Mapuche Community ‘Juan Paillalef' was confronted with harsh police violence. The confrontations started during a peaceful act of protest by the Mapuche Community against illegal road constructions through several Mapuche lands. The police chased away the protesting group and entered the community using guns, teargas and clubs. The following day Juana Calfunao and her sister were arrested without a warrant. When released yesterday, both women showed bad injuries from being beaten by the police.

Thursday the 22nd the Juan Paillalef community decided to block a piece of road that crosses their land. This road, from Los Laureles to Colico, passes through a number of Mapuche communities. The road that dates from 1946 is currently being widened and paved, not respecting their way of live in the ‘Juan Paillalef Community'. The increase of traffic by heavy trucks transporting timber from higher up in this area of the Andes is a threat to the community.
In the raid by Special Forces, the domicile of the Juan Paillalef community was attacked. The two generators for electricity and for pumping water were destroyed. Workshops, currently being rebuilt by the community, being their main source of income, were also destroyed. Furthermore all cellular phones were confiscated, leaving the community without possibilities to contact the outside world. Several people, amongst them children, were injured during the police raid.

Juana Calfunao Paillalef is Lonko (political authority) of the Juan Paillalef community, founding member of the NGO Ethical Committee against Torture in Chili, founding member of the Indigenous Human Rights Defence Network and member of the Network Alternatives against Impunity and the Globalization of Trade. In June 2005 she participated in the international seminar “Territory, Life en Human Safety facing the economic and military plans”. In October 2005 she took the role as judge in the International Tribunal of Opinion to judge de External Debt in Madrid, Spain. She was nominated by the International Consultation on Women Human Rights Defenders that took place in Colombo, Sri Lanka in November 2005.

During the last two years she went to different countries in Europe to speak about human rights violations, cultural and territorial violations that the community and the Mapuche people have endured.

The community has undertaken the action of blocking the road in order to be heard in their demand for rights. In order to address the issue, the community demands the presence of Yazmin Balboa representative of the MOP: Ministry of Public Building of the IX Region Temuco, Chili. The community wishes to reach a definitive solution on this road, which occupies 1.200mts2 of community land, which has been expropriated since 1946 and never has been paid for.
The Juan Paillalef Community is shocked by the action taken by the Chilean police. It has used an excessive force and has not considered women or children.

The Mapuche Community ‘Juan Paillalef' asks urgently for the following:

1) For the international community to intervene.
2) For human rights organizations to intervene.
3) To make this document known.

Antonio Cadin Huentelao
Spokesmen for the ‘Juan Paillalef Community

Letters to:

Intendente de la IX Region
Region de la Araucania
Sr Ricardo Patricio Celis Araya
Bulnes 590, piso 2
Temuco, Chile
Fax: +56 45 208217
Directed to: Dear Intendant

Sr. Ministro de Justicia
Sr. Luis Bates
Ministerio de Justicia
Morandé 107, Santiago, Chile
Fax: +56 2 695 4558
Directed to: Dear Minister

Copy of letter to:

Asesor de Gestión de la Presidencia
Sr. Domingo Namuncura
Palacio de la Moneda, Santiago, Chile
Fax: +56 2 6984656
opinion (at)
Directed to: Dear Sir

Sr. Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores
Sr. Ignacio Walker
Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores
Catedral 1158, Piso 3, Santiago, Chile
Fax: +56 2 696 8796
Directed to: Dear Sir

* Send a copy of letter of concern to the Chilean embassy in your country.

Hereby are added some links, where you can find more information about the case:

more background information on the history of the community and Juana can be found in the next article:

Mapuche human rights defender tells Europe about plight of her people

Chief Juana Calfunao Paillalef
23 November 2005

A chief of the largest indigenous group in Chile just finished a lobbying and speaker’s tour in Holland, Spain and Ireland; where she told government and UN officials and NGO members of the human rights abuses her community faces.

Chief Juana Calfunao Paillalef (47) is the lonko (chief) of the Juan Paillalef Mapuche community in the Cunco District in Chile and has been leading a campaign and legal battle since 1998 to recover land belonging to her people from neighbouring landowners and to remove electricity pylons that were constructed on her community’s land without its consent. Chief Paillalef has faced repeated personal persecution for her work defending the human rights of her community
The purpose of her tour was to draw attention to the discrimination and poverty that the Mapuche people in Chile face. Many Mapuche people live without electricity or running water, and attempts to regain their ancestral land and assert their rights are often met with indifference by the courts and violence by the Chilean police and the paramilitaries formed by wealthy landowners.
Human rights groups have pointed out that the rights of the Mapuche people have been systematically violated under the guise of legality. The Chilean government often uses the anti-terrorist laws introduced under the rule of Pinochet, to punish the Mapuche’s peaceful protests and to charge leaders.
Juana’s struggle for her people’s rights has led to her becoming a victim of intimidation, persecution, torture, arbitrary incarceration, and arson. On 22 July this year Juana’s house was burnt to the ground in an arson attack. Her seven-year-old daughter Relmutrai was in the simple wood and mud house at the time of the attack but managed to escape.
This was the third arson attack on Juana’s home. In an attack in June 2004, the charred remains of Juana’s uncle Don Pascual Namunacura Canulao, were found in the destroyed hut. Don Pascual was not staying in the house at the time and some believe he had been murdered at another location and the fire was a cover up for this alleged murder.
Juana, her husband and her three children have all been victims of physical attacks. In 2001 when she was three months pregnant she was arrested, beaten and tortured by the police. She spent three days in solitary confinement without charge and lost her unborn child. She has been stoned, her crops have been burned and her community has been intimidated by gun wielding landowners.
All attempts to seek the perpetrators of these acts of violence have been stalled and ignored by the Chilean justice system and the police. The community filed a claim before the courts for the demarcation and enclosing of their lands in 1998. Seven years later they are no closer to obtaining their ancestral rights.
The Mapuche are pre-Hispanic inhabitants of central and Southern Chile and southern Argentina. Their traditional Land is a very important part of their culture. The Mapuche people were the only indigenous group in the Americas to withstand the attacks of the Incan armies and were never conquered by the Spanish. After the newly independent Chilean state fought a war of conquest with them in the late nineteenth century the Mapuche were forcibly placed in reservations.

©2005 Front Line Defenders. All Rights Reserved.

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