Thursday, 23 February 2012

Ontario Mapuche Support Group Presentation; 24 February 2012

THE ONTARIO MAPUCHE SUPPORT GROUP INVITES YOU TO A PRESENTATION AND CONVERSATION ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE MAPUCHE SITUATION WITH JOSE AYLWIN: Co-Director of Observatorio Ciudadano: Citizens' Watchdog in Temuco, Chile, Human Rights lawyer and Board Member of the North – South Institute.
OISE, 252 Bloor Street West, on Thursday, February 24, at 6:00 PM.

Jose Aylwin is a human rights lawyer from Chile, specializing in Indigenous peoples and citizens' rights in Latin America. He is currently the acting Co-Director of the Observatorio Ciudadano (Citizens' Watch), an NGO which promotes the protection of human rights in Chile ( His research has been published by many different organizations including the University of La Frontera, Chile, the United Nations (ECLAC), the Inter-American Institute for Human Rights, IWGIA (Denmark), and the University of Montana, on topics including Indigenous peoples' land rights, ombudsmanship in Latin America, globalization and human rights in Latin America and human rights in Chile. Mr. Aylwin graduated in legal and juridical studies at the Faculty of Law of the University of Chile in Santiago and obtained a Master’s Degree from the School of Law at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, Canada. He also teaches Indigenous Peoples' Rights at the School of Law at the Universidad Austral de Chile, in Valdivia, Chile

The North-South Institute is Canada's oldest independent policy research institution specializing in effective international development. At NSI we focus on identifying policies and practices seeking to reduce poverty and global inequalities thereby contributing to the creation of a more prosperous and stable global community. 

Brief Summary of the Mapuche situation.
The Mapuche make up 87 percent of indigenous people in Chile and one million of the country’s 16 million people. Their ancestral territory spans the southern tip of South America across Argentina and Chile. Most of the Mapuche territory was lost in the late 19th century through abusive measures and harassment in the so called “Pacificacion de la Araucania” by successive governments. Later, particularly under the Pinochet regime, international forestry and mining companies were offered incentives to operate in the Araucania region, as a result, indigenous communities who generally have no formal land titles to their ancestral properties, have been increasingly forced off their land. The Chilean state has labeled the Mapuche struggle as “terrorist activities” and has repressed it with “anti-terrorist laws” established during the Pinochet Dictatorship. This repressive legislation has only been used by the Chilean State in post-dictatorship time against the First Nations and their supporters, except for one case. Accusations of terrorism “justify” long secret investigations that can last years and make access to a fair trial almost impossible. The anti-terrorist laws include practices such as long periods of arrest on remand, “protected witnesses”: prosecutors present witnesses with concealed identity and “double trials”, where the accused are condemned in civil and military courts resulting in heavier sentences. 

The government’s treatment of the Mapuches violates many UN International accords including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the ILO Convention 169.

The aim of the Ontario Mapuche Support Group is to assist with the legal costs of their trials. Very few lawyers step up to defend Mapuches because they must work without pay since most of those accused are very poor and those in prison are often the only source of income for their families. It also means that those defending Mapuches are later ostracized from further legal work and even become a target of the state, a case in point: the lawyer Karina Riquelme who became well known for her defense of Mapuche minors accused of terrorism, she is now accused of having practiced as a lawyer just before fully completing her degree. 

In 2008, Canadian outward foreign direct investment in Chile was measured at $8.346 billion. Canada's priority sectors in Chile are among those that have most aggravated the Mapuche conflicts, including mining, forestry, fishing and agricultural industries.

How can you help change this situation?
* Demand that the Canadian Government ensures that Canadian companies working abroad comply with the regulations regarding protection of peoples and their environment as established in Canada.
* Become an International Observer of the Mapuche trials
* Support the costs of the Mapuche’s legal defense
* Join the Ontario Mapuche Support Group: call (416) 441-1872

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