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Lawmakers join hunger strike by Mapuche Indians in Chile

Lawmakers join hunger strike by Mapuche Indians in Chile

Four Chilean lawmakers joined Thursday a hunger strike by 34 jailed Mapuche Indians who claim they are political prisoners and should not be regarded as terrorists.
The indigenous Mapuche prisoners are demanding that the government strike down anti-terrorist laws they say have been applied unfairly to their claim to ancestral lands.
President Sebastian Pinera introduced on Thursday a bill to ease the law's treatment of the jailed Mapuches, but they refused to back down demanding further reforms and talks with the government.
The Roman Catholic Church has offered to mediate in the conflict and the four lawmakers who joined the protest move have asked the government to begin formal dialogue with the strikers.
The first jailed Mapuches began hunger strikes on July 11 in prisons in Concepcion and Temuco. They were later joined in their action by detainees at other prisons in southern Chile.
Numbering around 600,000, the Mapuches are the biggest Indian minority in Chile, representing around six percent of the population.
The activists want strict anti-terrorist measures enacted during the 1973-1990 Augusto Pinochet dictatorship to be overturned. The law mandates lengthy preventative detention and a tripling of sentences.


Updated : 2021-01-20 09:16 GMT+08:00