Dozens of Chile’s Indigenous Mapuche protested police terror in Temuco on Friday, calling on law enforcement to stop violence against their youth.
The protest was organized by the parents of Brandon Hernandez, a 17-year-old Mapuche student who was shot by police last December during an anti-government demonstration. Chilean police sergeant Cristian Rivera shot Brandon in the back with a shotgun, leaving the teenager in critical condition.
Rivera, who was temporarily arrested for the incident, was released this week after national prosecutors determined that the murder was an “accident.”
“We are calling on the government to stop the injustices, to stop the criminalization of our youth and to stop killing our kids,” Ada Huentecol, Brandon’s mother, told HispanTV.
“We want the government to admit their mistakes and correct them,” Brandon’s father told the site.
Chile’s Mapuche, who make up roughly 10 percent of its population, are more likely to be killed by police than non-Mapuche people, Human Rights Watch reports. In 2012, the organization called for Chilean authorities to carry out a “prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation” into the unlawful use of force by police against the Indigenous community.
Temuco, an important historical and cultural hub for the Mapuche, is also the site of ongoing land conflict involving authorities and Indigenous militants.
Last week, the Mapuche Arauco-Malleco Coordination, CAM, led an arson attack that left 19 trucks burned. The attack, directed at the wealthy Trans-Cavalieri transport company in Temuco, resulted in losses of about US$3 Million for the business. The CAM also set ablaze nine flatbeds and a warehouse on the route that links Temuco with other cities.
The Indigenous militants claim the attack was made in retaliation to the “capitalist invaders” who don’t respect the territory and the autonomy of the Mapuche.
“With this larger action, we pointed out to our oppressed people that there is the will and capacity of the Mapuche to deal decisively with the expressions of the capitalist system and the oppressive colonialist state,” the CAM wrote in a statement, Kaos en la Red reports.
Temuco is the city of Chile with the largest indigenous population.