The VJ Movement interviews Pascual Pichun Collonao, a 27-year-old journalist and fourth-year student at La Plata National University in Argentina. One of 70 Mapuche political prisoners in Chile, Pascual is currently serving a five year sentence for allegedly setting fire to a logging truck in 2002. Background, courtesy of mapuche.nl.
Pascual Pichún Collonao is a 27-year-old Mapuche communicator and student of the Faculty of Journalism, La Plata National University, Argentina. Pascual had been in Argentina since 2005, where he obtained a temporary residence permit from the Argentine authorities. He is a fourth-year student, works ad honorem in the Human Rights Secretariat of the Faculty of Journalism, and is involved in a number of the university´s community outreach projects. As an indigenous communicator he participates in several dialogue platforms in defense of indigenous peoples´ rights.
On February 26 of this year, Pascual was arrested by police intelligence personnel in Temuco, Chile, and he is now being held in the jail of Traiguén, along with other Mapuche political prisoners.
Chile has an anti-terrorism law in place imposed by Pinochet. Unfortunately, this law is currently being used in political conflicts and is considered by human rights organizations as a tool for persecution and repression that has raised the number of Mapuche detainees to over 70. 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”.
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. 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.
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.
Send a Letter in support of Pascual Pichun Collonao: http://www.gfbv.de/emailprot.php?id=263&stayInsideTree=1
Sign a petition in support of all Mapuche political prisoners on hunger strike: http://mapuche.info/?lp_1=2
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