This week Chile finds itself hosting Kang Kyung-wha, the United Nation’s Deputy High Commission on Human Rights. Kang is largely in the country due to the ongoing protests and movements related to education within Chile, but is also taking some of her time to discuss Indigenous rights. During her time in the country, Kang spoke about Indigenous rights with the President of Chile’s Supreme Court, the Mapuche Federation of Students (FEMAE in Spanish), and the Mapuche Territorial Alliance among others.
Kang’s very busy schedule included a visit to Chile’s Supreme Court with Milton Juica, the President of the Court. The focus of that visit was to discuss the right to education, but also Indigenous rights and Chile’s Antiterrorism Law — an issue that has had an enormous impact on the Mapuche people. Kang emphasized that the Court has a critical role in promoting and protecting human rights in Chile.
Kang also spoke about the Antiterrorism Law on Monday, October 17th, when she took time to talk to Natividad Llanquileo, the spokesperson for the Mapuche political prisoners who are imprisoned due to that law.
In addition, Kang met with the National Confederation of Chilean Students (CONFECH in Spanish) as well as the Mapuche Federation of Students. The students used the opportunity to explain the protests and their desire for a more equal educational system. They also lobbied Kang to help bring the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on Education to Chile.
Finally, during Kang’s meetings one Mapuche leader – Carlos Curinao, the lonko (leader) of the Mapuche community Huañaco Millao in Ercilla — took the opportunity to express concerns about human rights abuses from police in his community and the surrounding communities. Curinao explained that land was at the heart of the conflict and that things could easily escalate if an agreement isn’t reached soon.
Kang is currently on a trip that will take her through Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay to observe the human rights situations in each country before returning to the United Nations.