The United Nations today welcomed the end of a hunger strike by dozens of imprisoned members of Chile’s indigenous Mapuche community that had lasted for nearly three months.
Most of the 34 prisoners in the strike agreed to end their 82-day protest last night after reaching a deal with the Chilean Government, the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) reported.
Media reports indicate that the prisoners had been on hunger strike in protest against anti-terrorism charges levelled against them over their campaign to improve their rights and reduce poverty.
ECLAC Executive Secretary Alicia Bárcena congratulated the Government and the hunger strikes on reaching a deal.
“Guided by the principles and aims of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ECLAC draws attention to the importance of the international legal regime and the need to place equality at the heart of the debate,” she said.
After the deal a group of 11 adults and three minors from the Mapuche Land Alliance who had entered the headquarters of ECLAC in Santiago on 23 September in solidarity with the hunger strikers voluntarily left the premises.
Last month ECLAC issued a statement in which it stressed that equality must be at the centre of discussions to resolve the dispute.
“Indigenous peoples in Latin America are no strangers to poverty and exclusion as a result of a historical process of structural discrimination, which is now interpreted as a failure to recognize, promote, protect and guarantee their human rights,” the statement noted.
Last night’s agreement followed a statement earlier in the day from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in which he had welcomed the Government’s resumption of talks with the hunger strikers.