On Wednesday, August 24th, the Commission for the Rights of the Mapuche held its second meeting — this time in Concepción. In attendance at this meeting was José Miguel Vivanco, the Director for Human Rights Watch in the Americas. After the meeting, Vivanco gave an interview in which he discussed the relationship between the Chilean government and the Mapuche people. Among other things, he stated: “We have conducted some studies and have concluded that there is, indeed, strong evidence of police abuse, of police brutality during raids, and of excessive and unjustified force, which has resulted in the loss of Mapuche lives during this conflict.”
In addition to this statement, Vivanco stated that, while Chile’s Antiterrorism Law has gone through significant reforms, more are needed as the Law still does not “conform to international standards” and can still be applied in a discriminatory fashion. He also called on the Government to more actively consider and assess how the implementation of Indigenous law is affecting communities on the ground.
Besides Vivanco, who was making a special appearance, the meeting of the Commission for the Rights of the Mapuche included Archbishop of Concepción Fernando Chomalí; Lorena Fríes, the director of the National Institute of Human Rights; Natividad Llanquileo and Millaray Garrido, Mapuche spokespeople in addition to others. Recall that the Commission was initially formed several months ago after the Chilean Supreme Court failed to find procedural irregularities in a case against four Mapuche men, despite the fact that the special procedures found in the Antiterrorism Law were applied to the non-terrorist charges they were ultimately convicted of.
The case that gave rise to the Commission was part of the agenda for the meeting, and issues related to land and the Antiterrorism Law were also reported. According to Archbishop Chomalí, the goal of the Commission is to get to the core of the issues affecting Mapuche people and “to generate long-term public policy” and then promote it. To accomplish this goal, the Commission meets once monthly and changes its location so that more communities may participate in the dialogue.