TAGS: Individuals at Risk, Urgent Action Network • Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Faith, Freedom Voices, Health, Human Rights Defenders, Indigenous Rights, Prisoners and People at Risk, Prisoners and People at Risk: Detention and Imprisonment • Americas, Chile •

Urgent Action Victory! Mapuche Spiritual Leader Ends Hunger Strike (Chile: UA 127.20)

August 24, 2020

On 18 August 2020, the spiritual leader of the Mapuche people in Chile, machi Celestino Córdova Tránsito, decided to end his hunger strike after reaching an agreement with the government, which includes several of his original requests.

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NO FURTHER ACTION IS REQUESTED. MANY THANKS TO ALL WHO SENT APPEALS.

On 4 May 2020, machi Celestino Córdova Tránsito and 8 other Mapuche prisoners began a hunger strike in Temuco, a city in the southern region of Araucanía in Chile. In the following weeks, other 17 Mapuche prisoners joined the hunger strike.

The 26 prisoners on hunger strike, including the Machi, demanded the application of ILO Convention 169, allowing prisoners to serve their sentence or pre-trial detention in their lands and not a prison. Machi Celestino Córdova specifically demanded respect for his rights as a spiritual leader of the Mapuche people, which requires him to have a physical proximity to his land and a specific sacred place, which represents the connection between the earthly and spiritual world.

Last week, machi Celestino Córdova and his spokespeople restarted a dialogue with representatives of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights. This dialogue was supported as observers by the Chilean Human Rights Institution, the Medical Association of Chile (Colegio Médico) and representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

On 18 August, machi Celestino Córdova reached an agreement with the government. As per the agreement, he will receive culturally pertinent treatment until his full recovery, permission to go to his land for up to 30 hours to perform ceremonies, and the possibility of serving his sentence at a “Center for Education and Work”, which means he could be close to the countryside instead of a city prison. It also includes items which benefit all hunger strikers, such an agreement that all those who are convicted can apply to serve their sentence in similar centers, the review of the pre-trial detentions of those who are not yet convicted, and the agreement that no prisoners on hunger strike will be subject to disciplinary measures because of the strike. After the agreement was signed, machi Celestino Córdova has began gradually feeding again.

Media reporting on the issue mentioned Amnesty’s call for dialogue as one of the relevant elements that served to pressure the government into a meaningful dialogue and reach an agreement.

The other Mapuche prisoners continue their hunger strike, and we continue to monitor the situation in case further action is needed in those cases.

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