Innocent Mapuche healer in court in Chile
International Day of Indigenous Women (September 5)(Press Release)
On the occasion of the “International Day of Indigenous Women” (September 5), the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) would like to draw attention to the fate of the Mapuche healer Francisca Linconao, who is fighting for the rights of her people – and who is in court in Chile, although she is innocent. “The Mapuche healer Francisca Linconao is the first indigenous woman who, in 2009, managed to prevail against a powerful timber company. Since then, she is confronted with unfounded accusations,” reported the STP’s expert on questions concerning indigenous peoples, Yvonne Bangert, in Göttingen on Monday. “Now, she and ten other Mapuche are accused of killing the landowner couple Luchsinger-MacKay, although she had already been acquitted in a trial focusing on that case in 2013. The “International Day of Indigenous Women” is celebrated since 1983, especially in the Latin American countries.
Linconao is trying to prove her innocence and to draw attention to the fact that many Mapuche are suffering from arbitrariness by the authorities. The STP fears that the country’s infamous antiterror laws might come to use in the trial. The “Ley 18.314”, which goes back to the arbitrary judicial system under Pinochet, allows for hardly verifiable anonymous witness statements and draconic penalties. The 61-year-old Machi – as the 1.5 million Mapuche in Chile call their healers – might be facing up to 40 years’ imprisonment. The STP demands the “antiterror laws” to be abolished.
So far, there is not even proof that the Machi could have been at the crime scene. According to the witness Jose Peralino, he had been forced to sign a statement according to which the eleven defendants are guilty. The trial, which is monitored by honorary observers of the STP, had started on August 21, 2017.
The STP has repeatedly tried to convince the Chilean authorities to ensure a fair trial for the Machi, and to allow her to wait for her trial under house arrest. In early 2017, more than 1000 signatories had supported an according appeal initiated by the human rights organization. Around Christmas of 2016, the Machi had gone on a hunger strike for several weeks until she was allowed to wait for her trial at home. Before, she had been transferred back and forth between her prison cell and house arrest several times. During this time, she became very sick – and she has not recovered again.
The “International Day of Indigenous Women” was initiated in Bolivia to commemorate Bartolina Sisa, an Aymara who, in the 18th century, had led indigenous fighters against the Spanish Conquistadors. She got killed in the Bolivian capital La Paz on September 5, 1782.