Eight Mapuche Movement Leaders Arrested in “Operation Hurricane,” amidst Mapuche Hunger Strike
Special Police Forces continue brutalization of Mapuche resistance in outrageous criminalizing spectacle during the ongoing Mapuche Hunger Strike.
September 23rd, 2017
WALLMAPU – This past Saturday, a series of violent raids and arrests against Mapuche movement leaders – dubbed “Operation Hurricane” by Chilean authorities – were carried out by Special Police Forces (PDI) throughout the regions of Bio-Bio, Arauco and Los Rios in southern Chile.
Among the arrested was the spokesman for the Arauco Malleco Coordinator for Communities in Conflict (CAM), Hector Llaitul, as well as his son Ernesto Llaitul, Jaime and Rodrigo Huenchullan, Martin Curiche, Claudio Leiva, Fidel Tranamil, and David Cid Aedo – ex-militant of the Leftist Revolutionary Movement (MIR).
Hector’s residence in the city of Concepcion was raided in the early morning hours, as reported by several local news sources. Javiera Llaitul, Hector’s elder daughter, told reporters that she and other members of the household were pushed to the ground during the raid, where police entered the premises without a warrant and refused to disclose where Llaitul would be taken to.
All eight arrestees were charged with Illicit Terrorist Association under the Pinochet era Anti-Terrorist Law, for their alleged involvement in “incendiary attacks against trucks and churches” throughout the region according to official reports. The Temuco Bail Court ruled on Sunday that the accused will remain in pre-trial custody for the duration of the four-month investigation, as solicited by the Head Prosecutor of the Araucania Region, Cristian Paredes.
Defense Attorney, Patricia Cuevas, stated at the bail hearing that evidence presented against the accused Mapuche community members was incredibly dubious, including the prosecution’s use of a Wikipedia article citing Llaitul as the leader of the CAM. Llaitul had previously been charged with Illicit Terrorist Association in April 2009 in connection to the same organization, for which he is currently on probation after a lengthy and controversial trial relating to land claims reclamation that sought to keep the CAM spokesman in prison for 12 years.
The unjust retrial of Llaitul in this similar case and the mass arrest of eight Mapuche leaders this past weekend is adding insult to injury to the already heightened tension in Wallmapu, where 4 Mapuche Political Prisoners are currently enduring an 111-day hunger strike, with no sign of response by Chilean authorities.
As mobilizations in favour of the Mapuche hunger strikers continue to increase, escalating repressive police tactics have been recorded throughout the territory, specifically targeting the leadership of the Mapuche movement for territorial reclamation. This spectacle of repression seen through the drastic increase in militarization in Mapuche communities, as well as other high-profile arrests – including that of Mapuche Werken, Daniel Melinao, last week – demonstrates the wrath of Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet, to erase any signs of Mapuche resistance during her last months in office.
It is unclear whether Chilean authorities will respond to the petitions made by the hunger strikers, however, Mapuche mobilizations are expected to continue with a call to action for national and international support, amidst growing government repression against Mapuche land defenders.
With files from Werken.cl, El Desconcierto and Radio Kvrruf
The Women’s Coordinating Committee for a Free Wallmapu