On the occasion of the 48th anniversary of the U.S.-backed coup in Chile on September 11, 1973, several Chilean-Canadian organizations, human rights organizations and Latin American solidarity groups held an all-day rally at Parc des Amériques in Montreal. The organizers called on everyone to sign and circulate the petition “Freedom to All the Political Prisoners in Chile. They said:
“On September 11, 1973, the democratically elected socialist government of Salvador Allende Gossens was overthrown in a military coup supported by Washington. The country then fell into a bloody dictatorship that lasted more than 17 years and left thousands dead. Tens of thousands are imprisoned and tortured while tens of thousands are deported or forced into exile.
“On October 18, 2019, thousands of people took to the streets to denounce the economic precariousness and the great social injustices maintained by the governments that followed the Pinochet dictatorship. The repression of Pinera’s government is brutal. Military and police violence resulted in deaths and hundreds of people were maimed. Tens of thousands of people are arrested and imprisoned under new laws that criminalize protests.”
To sign the petition click here
Renewal Update , September 13, 2021
More Information on Current Situation of Political Prisoners in Chile
The prosecution of the political prisoners from the social uprising — mostly people with no criminal record, youths and minors — began in 2020. Some were released for lack of evidence after having spent months to almost a year in jail. This means that they spent about a year or more in jail only to be found innocent of the crimes they were charged with. This situation continues to this day. There are political prisoners condemned to sentences of three to five years and some are at risk of a sentence of more than 20 years. There are numerous cases of political prisoners who have been convicted only with evidence and testimony provided by the Carabineros (police). There have been repeated accusations of police set-ups, mainly in cases linked to Mapuche political prisoners, such as in the case of the Huracán police operation to spy on Indigenous human rights defenders and fabricate evidence against Mapuche activists. There have also been reports of political prisoners who have opted for “abbreviated trials” and have pleaded guilty in order to be released from prison. Groups of relatives of political prisoners, human rights and civil society organizations have denounced the absence of due process, the lack of impartiality on the part of the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the miscarriage of investigation. The government of President Sebastián Piñera has even sought to convict people under the state’s Internal Security Law in order to increase prison sentences.
Between 2020 and 2021, Mapuche and political prisoners incarcerated for their participation in the social uprising have carried out several hunger strikes in different prisons in Chile. The purpose of these strikes was to denounce the irregularities of the judicial process, the massive use of pre-trial detention and torture experienced in prison. The prison situation in Chile is one of the most critical in Latin America and in the world, and the country has one of the highest rates of incarceration. This reflects the appalling conditions in which political prisoners are held and worsening conditions of confinement in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic (no right to visits for more than a year, cases COVID-19 infection, lack of access to health care, etc.). Besides the extensive use of preventive detention, the use of house arrest and daily police presence in the homes of political prisoners have a strong impact on the family environment.
1. Amnesty International, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, UN High Commission for Human Rights, International Observation Mission for Human and Civil Society Rights, Quebec and Canadian Observation Mission of Human Rights in Chile.
2. “Final Observations concerning the the sixth periodic report on Chile,” Commission Against Torture (CAT) 2018.
3. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, (2014). Caso “Norin Catriman y otros vs Chile”, 29 mayo 2014, p.168-177.
4. El Convenio 169 de la OIT sobre pueblos indígenas y tribales a 10 años de su ratificación por el Estado de Chile. Análisis crítico de su cumplimiento. (2018). Informe de la Central Unitaria de trabajadores de Chile, Observatorio Ciudadano, p.47.
(Photos: SOA Watch)
Freedom to All the Political Prisoners in Chile
– Petition, Change.org –
We call for the international solidarity of the Chilean community abroad and their organizations & collectives, human rights and civil society organizations, from the trade union, academic, militant sectors, as well as individuals to adhere to this petition to demand the release of all political prisoners in Chile. We demand that the Chilean Senate continue with the process and approval procedures of the pardon for humanitarian reasons [the] bill that would benefit the “people charged with or convicted of acts that occurred during protests, demonstrations or social mobilizations.” The bill was presented in December 2020. However, it has not been treated with the expected diligence as it has passed through several evaluations in legislative commissions.
We reproach and denounce the police and military repression and the criminalization of the social protest, as well as the political-criminal persecution by the Chilean State against those who reclaim their territories and ancestral rights and demand the right to a dignified life. There have been systematic human rights violations in Chile against the Mapuche Nation and its people through its conflict with the Chilean State. The human rights violations have taken on the same character against the Chilean people after the social uprising of 2019.
Various international human rights observation missions carried out in Chile have extensively documented the violation of the right to protest, to life and to personal integrity. However, this situation is not new, as evidenced by the recommendations made to the State of Chile in recent decades regarding the excessive use of force, the absence of mechanisms for the prevention of torture and the failure to refrain from applying the anti-terrorism law against the processes of vindication of the rights of the Mapuche people. On February 2, 2021, the Chilean National Human Rights Institute (INDH) denounced that human rights violations committed by State agents have not ceased during 2020 and that even the most basic recommendations have not been fully implemented. The massive use of illegal detentions, cases of sexual violence, eye injuries, mutilations and injuries caused by gunshots by Carabineros (police) also continue.
It is amid this context that the use of political imprisonment has been another tool to undermine social protest in the country. Although unofficial figures state 2,500 political imprisonments have taken place, there is no truthful register on the part of the State institutions. On the contrary, the government of Sebastián Piñera has denied the existence of political imprisonment. Chile is currently undergoing a constituent process to change the Constitution inherited from the dictatorship. After more than a year and a half of political imprisonment, we express our support for the mobilizations in the country that have maintained pressure on the issue, on the urgency of the general pardon for political prisoners and on the persecution and repression of the Mapuche people.
We denounce the indiscriminate and extensive use of preventive detention against people who have been detained in the context of the massive social protests. We condemn the denial of justice, the lack of presumption of innocence and the implementation of laws aimed at intensifying the criminalization of protest and political persecution, such as the anti-barricade and anti-looting laws.
We call attention to the historical repression by the Chilean State against the Mapuche people in the face of their demands for their ancestral territories. Political imprisonment of the Mapuche people has existed for decades. “Since the 2000s, the Antiterrorist Law was used as the main means of criminalization of the Mapuche social protest for which the Chilean State was condemned in 2014 by the IACHR.” In addition, “the high rate of acquittals obtained in judicial proceedings under the Anti-Terrorism Law is evidence of its discretionary and political use as a tool of criminalization.” We demand the demilitarization of the Mapuche territory in the Araucanía region.
For group, collective or organization sign-ons, please click here.
Comité Chileno por los Derechos Humanos Montréal, Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine, Colectivo No más Impunidad en Chile-Montréal, Collectif Le Droit de vivre en paix-Montréal, Chile Despertó Internacional-Québec, Place de la dignité
(Photos: SOA Watch, Chile Solidarity Network)