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Declaration from the International Organization for Human Rights 18.10 – Chile, One year after the October Uprising

Our international organization in defense of human rights was born as an answer to the state violence unleashed in Chile since October 18, 2019. Unjustified violence against anyone who was exercising her or his legitimate right to peaceful demonstration in response to the ever more profound injustices imposed by the neoliberal capitalist system.

Our condition as Chileans living abroad made us relive one of the worst moments in the history of our country and the impact it had on the lives of thousands of Chileans.

The shadow of Pinochet’s civic-military dictatorship

Today is the first anniversary of the October unrest in Chile. In these twelve months, renowned international human rights organisations have published six reports certifying the veracity of the complaints received by human rights defenders and disseminated through social media.

Chile Despertó!

Our organisation – at that time the Human Rights Committee within a self-organised network of Chileans abroad – coordinated the visit of a delegation of MEPs from 28 October to collect complaints directly from student associations, human rights defenders, trade unions, environmental activists and professional bodies such as the Chilean Medical Association.

Report of the visit to Chile

In December 2019 and January 2020, we published two legal reports with updated data, to denounce that the systematic violence committed by state agents and the lack of procedural guarantees for the victims had not diminished. Thus, on January 22nd, we had the opportunity to intervene in the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights:

In August – in the midst of the pandemic – we published a third legal report, this time much more specific to denounce the serious violations of the human rights of children and adolescents.

The global pandemic led the social movement to find new ways of mobilisation. And it laid bare the elements that underpinned the October 2019 Upheaval. The people were confronted with hunger and the denial of equality before the law for members of the Mapuche communities, political prisoners, workers, shanty town dwellers, students and environmental activists became evident.

And the response emerged with creativity, solidarity, anger, but at the same time with hope.

The organization of communal kitchens under the slogan “Only the people help the people” gave us the energy to reorganize, and to remember that the struggle for social justice continues with or without a pandemic.

Starting in May, the ancestral authority Machi Celestino Cordova, together with a group of political prisoners, carried out a hunger strike of more than 100 days to demand the application of ILO Convention 169 and for the modification of precautionary measures for the Mapuche and non-Mapuche political prisoners who have been charged, and the political prisoners of the social revolt.

The referendum that is supposed to change the constitution inherited from the civic-military dictatorship was rescheduled for 25 October.

We have yet to win what we are fighting for…

Repression at the hands of an increasingly violent and corrupt police force, which does not even respect its own protocols, trained with the collaboration of the US and European governments, and supported by the highest authorities of Piñera’s government, continues to leave victims in the face of the indifference of the international community.

Today, 18 October 2020, we reaffirm our work to support human rights defenders in Chilean territory and wallmapu. We will not stop knocking on doors to make the international community assume its political and historical responsibilities in the construction of a more just and united world.

Gabriel Gajardo

Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as Articles 15 and 16 of the American Convention on Human Rights, guarantees the right of assembly and freedom of association, therefore going out into the streets to demonstrate and protest is a human right that cannot be restricted by Member States.

General comment No. 37 (2020) on the right of peaceful assembly (article 21)