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  • Protesters demand the release of the Mapuche activists accused of being involved in “Operation Hurricane,” as they are attacked by the police, Sept. 26, 2017.

    Protesters demand the release of the Mapuche activists accused of being involved in “Operation Hurricane,” as they are attacked by the police, Sept. 26, 2017. | Photo: EFE

Since the Mapuche activists have been arrested one year and four months ago, prosecutors have not been able to find any evidence against them.

A local Chilean appeals court has rejected a request to release the eight Mapuche activists being held for alleged terrorist arson, maintaining preventive prison for all of them.

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In a communique, the Resisting Mapuche Communities of Malleco criticized the decision as “illegal, arbitrary and subjective,” saying that the judge gave a “political, anticipated sentence” that is not grounded on facts.

The night before, Chile's military police brought four Mapuche activists to the Intercultural Hospital of Nueva Imperial, a few days after they ended a 116-day hunger strike to protest against their preventive detention over terrorism charges.

They ended the strike after the government agreed to stop the Anti-Terrorist bill against them amid growing concerns for their health. The bill, passed during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, established harsher penalties and has been applied to the Mapuche community for their ancestral struggle for land rights.

The prisoners' lawyer Humberto Serri explained that their health deteriorated “up to an advanced state” because of the prolonged hunger strike in their prison cells in Temuco.

An emergency meeting with judges on Friday will determine whether the prisoners will be sent back to prison or stay in the hospital.

Chile's largest Indigenous group continues to fight with the government as it tries to regain land lost during Chile's 19th century expansion southward into the Mapuche-held territory.


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