Activists End Hunger Strike Against Chile’s Terror Laws

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Four Mapuche activists have ended an 86-day hunger strike against the Chilean government’s use of an anti-terrorism law against them.

The indigenous Chileans have been sentenced to prison over an attack against three policemen and a prosecutor in 2008.

They decided to finish the strike Thursday, in the face of their deteriorating health, some days after the Supreme Court refused to strike down their convictions.

The court did reduce the Mapuches’ sentences, but upheld the convictions, which were made under anti-terror laws which many criticize as illegitimate. The ruling sparked protests in the capital city on June 3.

“They didn’t just condemn four men today; they condemned all Mapuche people,” one protester said to Bloomberg.

Since the early 1990s, the Mapuches have been locked in a battle over land used for logging and farming which they claim as their ancestral territory. They have seized, occupied and burned private property in protest, provoking the government’s use of anti-terrorism legislation.

The anti-terrorism law dates mainly from the years of military dictatorship under Augusto Pinochet and is one of the country’s harshest laws, according to Human Rights Watch. The law allows for the use of anonymous witnesses, and for the accused to be tried before military courts.

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