On Thursday, August 2nd, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights — a part of the Organization of American States — issued a statement condemning the Chilean government’s actions with respect to Mapuche children. The Commission stated that multiple Mapuche children were injured during an operation by police to evict individuals who were protesting for their land rights. The body also urged Chile to “investigate the facts and sanction those responsible, and to adopt measures in order to avoid in the future the excesive use of force in these operations.”
The Commission indicates that it received information on July 23, 2012 stating that two Mapuche youth were shot with buckshot during the evictions. In addition, allegations were made that three young Mapuche girls under the age of 12 were transported in a police bus and that “they allegedly suffered humiliation, were beaten and sexually abused by the Carabineros [police] officers.” According to the Commission’s statement, these allegations were not the first they had received about youth being harmed by Chile’s police officers.
The Inter-American Commission, in addition to condemning the actions of the State, also urged Chile’s government to take steps to protect Mapuche children, especially in the context of Mapuche demands with respect to rights and lands. Its ability to issue such statements comes from its mandate to promote respect for human rights as part of the Organization of American States. The Commission itself consists of seven independent members who are elected by the OAS General Assembly.
While the recent eviction was unique in that the Inter-American Commission responded to it, acts of violence are becoming more commonplace in the Araucanía region. Recent figures from the district attorney’s office in the area indicate that there has been a nearly three-fold increase in the number of violent acts registered from January to May in 2012 as compared to the same time period in 2011. In total, 95 violent acts had been reported during the first five months of 2012, the vast majority of them related to Mapuche protests for land and rights.