Amnesty International’s Secretary General Irene Khan led a visit to Temuco in central Chile on Tuesday 4 November, as part of a mission to assess the country’s human rights situation.
The Secretary General met Mapuche communities and organizations working to protect the rights of indigenous peoples. Talking about her visit, she said “we came to Temuco to listen to the people, to look at how their dignity is threatened by the exclusion, discrimination and abuse of human rights.
“Amnesty International has long worked on the cases of indigenous peoples who were prosecuted under the anti terrorism legislation and their prison conditions.
“This remains a concern for us but now we are also looking at the circumstances behind the social conflict and violence from which they are suffering and their struggle over the right to land, water and other natural resources.
“Many of these are new areas for Amnesty International so we are here to talk to those most affected to explore the best ways forward to raise public conscience on these issues and change.”
Amnesty International’s visit to Chile coincides with the tenth anniversary of the arrest of Augusto Pinochet in London and with the 25th anniversary of Amnesty International’s section in Chile.
The military government of Augusto Pinochet was characterized by brutal repression and the worst of human rights violations. Amnesty International has a long history of work on Chile since the military coup in Chile on 11 September 1973, with a research mission visiting the country in November 1973.