Monday, June 10, 2013
The werkén Vania Queipul: "We Mapuche grow up visiting our families in jail", Chile
A week ago in San Jose, Costa Rica began the sessions where the Interamerican Court of Human Rights heard Mapuche victims on the implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Act in Chile. The daughter of the Lonko of Temucuicui speaks about the trials with faceless witnesses, discrimination and how it is to grow up amid police repression.
Two weeks ago there was a raid on the Temucuicui community. Of that day, Vania (19) said that police special forces stormed the community destroying the small houses that two years ago were erected on the premises that they have been occupying as part of the land reclamations. They also broke the pens, the animals escaped, there were shouts and blows. But Vania is accustomed to those postcards of horror and also to bad news.
In April, outside of the Court of Collipulli, they arrested her father, the Lonko Victor Queipul. It was the day of the hearing of the control of the arrest and formalization of the werkén of the Community Wente Winkul Mapu, Daniel Melinao. Amid the unrest, Queipul was beaten and spent the night in jail. To Vania they called on the phone several times, she did not respond, she was busy in college. When they finally told her, she was frightened, but had a "Witán" (feeling), that one day she will receive a much worse call.
-My dad is being pursued, "he is tagged", as we say. He may end up in prison for many years- she reflects in the middle of the interview.
In this community, iconic for its resistance, Vania grew up like that, by force, among visits to the prison to her father, uncles and cousins. Her brother spent three months on hunger strike. She, at age 15, was accused of breaking the windows of the Prosecution Office of Collipulli and spent the night in detention. After a trial that lasted nine months she was found innocent.
In October last year, during a visit by President Sebastián Piñera to the city of Ercilla, Vania went to protest with other women from the community. Police followed close behind her amid the shouts. They began to take the men and also Vania who was the only female detainee. They dragged her into the Micro (van) of the militarized police and an woman in uniform slapped her and pulled her hair. She says she did not cry. She was sentenced to 200 days in prison for the offense of public disorder, Karina Riquelme, her defender, requested a mistrial. On June 12 will be the reading of the ruling in Santiago.
Vania is brave, already she is a werkén, and her friends know that someday she will take the place her father.
Last week took place in San José, Costa Rica the hearings before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) of the case "Norín Catriman and other" for the violation of rights by the State of Chile to seven Mapuche leaders and the supporter of the cause Patricia Roxana Troncoso Robles, "La Chepa".
The complaint to the Commission was made for the processing and conviction of these people with sentences of up to 10 years in prison. All for offenses considered under the Anti-Terrorism Act. Vania knows closely about its consequences.
-The community of Temucuicui has been hit several times by this law. How did they take the news of the hearings in the Interamerican Court of Human Rights?
-It's the first time something like this happens and I feel good that someone has finally deigned to hear the Mapuche issue and what the Chilean state does to us every day. How good that the lamngen (brothers) have resorted to that instance. We've all been affected by the Anti-Terrorism Act, its discrimination, and the faceless witnesses. I wish them well in condemning the State for all that it has done to us. They are showing the face for the people.
-Vania, not only did you suffer for the hunger strike of your brother, the case of your cousin Patrick Queipul was well known because being a child he decided to go into hiding to avoid being processed under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
-My cousin went underground because it was his only way out, he had already been indicted and this was the only way, he was indicted under the Anti-Terrorism Act, then they took away the possibility to judge him by that law and recently they made a preparation for trial, because they canceled the previous one in which he had been released. Since I was ten, my cousin Patito, began to be persecuted, he was wounded with buckshot, he stopped studying, he only reached fourth grade because of so much persecution. He had to stay taking care of the animals, and while working on that, once he was arrested and even held him sequestered.
Absolved at 15
Vania has a girlish voice, and sometimes it breaks, but she says that now it is different, she speaks loudly as a spokesperson. It was not always like that, at school she was shy and she would go blank when it was her turn to lecture in front of her course. Something that changed on August 23, 2010, when Vania was invited to a seminar at the University of Concepción on the Anti-Terrorism Act in Mapuche causes. There, she recalls that the words came out of her mouth alone and the audience was moved. "I hope you raise awareness and support and give strength to our 'peñis', because here in Concepción, Valdivia, Temuco, Angol and Lebu, some people are dying of hunger every day, and it's sad. (...) It is very hard to have a family member on strike, I have brothers, cousins and uncles. But if necessary to give ones life for this, we will, "she said, without fear.
This year, since studying in Angol, her day starts at seven in the morning to help with the cleaning of the house of her cousin in whose house she stays on the days she has classes. Then she must go to the Andrés Bello University, where she studies nursing in the evening hours. None of that makes her forget her priority and dream which it is to be spokeswoman. She remembers that tomorrow she has an interview for a documentary and Friday she must travel to Temuco because, along with other representatives of the community Temucuicui, she will go to visit the Machi Celestino Cordova. "Then I must go to Concepción where there are other Mapuche brothers who are also imprisoned for the Anti-Terrorism Act, "she saysand her voice already betrays fatigue.
- You were arrested and on trial at age 15?
-It was something that marked me much, personally, but also to the people who supported me in those difficult moments. Police went to look for me at school, I was arrested in front of my peers, I was not allowed to live. They were going a year to my school until the trial began. It was very humiliating, was in the second half and did not want to go to school any more. I refused the alternative way out of the Prosecutors Office. In the end, they could not prove that I was guilty.
- What is that most affects the children of the Mapuche communities?
-The first thing a child sees are the raids, in our community the police do not enter asking permission, they come shooting insulting our parents and even the youngest children. They call us Indians, with only swearwords, and with that we grow up. I'm marked by the hate that's inside of me, and those children who come after me will feel the same. We can not say: "Today we rent a van to go for a drive to have fun." We Mapuche grow up visiting our families in jail.
- What is your opinion of the case of the minor of the community Wente Winkul Mapu who is two weeks on hunger strike in the prison for minors in Chol-Chol? (Note: Now, June 9, 28 days on hunger strike)
-They already took his childhood and the right of every person to live in peace. I put myself in his place, I have suffered a lot, but not compared to what he's going through. I can imagine how he feels on a hunger strike and the concern of the family. My brother went through that and you feel a lot of pain and you accumulate hatred, maybe he never hurt anyone. With those things, the Chilean state generates only that the Mapuche people set themselves against them, every day more so.