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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mapuche prisoners: 52 days in hunger strike

The hunger strike of Mapuche prisoners in Chile reaches today the 52nd day. In practical terms this means that they are beginning to notice the hard effects of the fast, losing muscle tissue and beginning to affect major organs as the liver, kidneys and heart. Their life is at risk.

The strikers demand the abolition of the anti-terrorist law by which they are being judged, under accusations of attacks and road blockades demanding that their ancestral lands be returned to the Mapuche communities.

The government is showing signs of weakness in this nonviolent struggle, and is asking, since tuesday, that the prisoners stop their hunger strike on promises of law reform. This announcement was welcomed by Mapuche organizations that demand hurrying up the procedure.

The strike began on July 12 in the prisons of Concepción and Temuco and has been joined by other prisoners gradually. The anti-terrorist law is a fascist law passed by Pinochet dictatorship and allows the imprisonment of suspects without charges for unlimited periods. If found guilty, the penalty is multiplied by three automatically.

The law is seldom applied to white Chileans but is systematically used against Mapuches, who are fighting for the return of their communal lands and their right to self-rule. The independent Mapuche polity was invaded by Chile in the 19th century and has no recognized autonomy.

The Appeal Court authorized prison guards to use forced feeding on striking prisoners.

Source: Gara.

This fight has, as so many other important news, got no room in mainstream media, either in Spanish or English. Many wonder if this happened in Cuba or Venezuela, what kind of media reaction would it trigger. This in turn causes deep concern for the situation of freedom of speech and journalism in general in the so called Western World. And this is not the only case: what do you know of the real situation Louisiana oil spill and its real effects on the people living at the Gulf of Mexico? If you are only following mainstream media: nothing at all! A very bad situation for information freedom the one we have.

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