Mapuche Nation / Chile: International Amnesty expresses worry over the hunger strike of Machi Celestino Córdova

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Source: Resumen Latinoamericano / The Dawn News / March 27, 2018

Photo Credit: Diario UChile

Amnesty International communicated its concern for the hunger strike of Machi Celestino Córdova who requested a 48 hours pass to go to his Rehue and carry out a renovation ceremony, pointing out that the request is supported by international treaties.

In regards to his case, we state the following:

  1. Machi Celestino Córdova, as a member of the Mapuche people and in his role of traditional authority, has the right to live according to his customs, including his spiritual beliefs and health care these require, as it is established in the international treaties on the rights of indigenous peoples, such as Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization and the UN Declaration on the subject,.
  2. In this sense, the request of Machi Celestino Córdova to be given a 48-hour permit to go to his Rehue and carry out a renovation ceremony, is based on the aforementioned international treaties. Furthermore, a denial of this jeopardizes the physical and spiritual health of the Machi, which has already been pointed out by the Intercultural Hospital of Nueva Imperial, the INDH and the Medical Association, thus by denying this request, the Gendarmerie is denying machi Celestino Córdova the medical treatment he urgently needs.
  3. We express our concern for the protection remedy presented by Gendarmerie and welcomed by the Court of Appeals of Temuco, which could be interpreted as an authorization to force feed the Machi Celestino Córdova. Prisoners on hunger strike, like any other prisoner, have the right to receive adequate medical attention. This includes the principle of informed consent, that is, being informed of the probable consequences of the hunger strike on their health, and having the right to refuse medical treatment, including food. Amnesty International opposes the compulsory feeding of all people who are on hunger strike and in possession of their faculties if this forced feeding is administered without medical supervision, or before a plausible medical reason to administer it exists, or if it is administered in a cruel way. Medical necessity is the only reason why forced feeding can be compatible with human rights, and that forced feeding should only be administered after an assessment of the mental competence and health needs of the person on hunger strike, under continued medical supervision, and by personnel with medical training. Two fundamental statements of medical ethics of the World Medical Association – the Tokyo Declaration and the Malta Declaration – state that people on hunger strike should not be forcibly subjected to treatment if they refuse, and that forced feeding of a person in possession of his faculties who is on hunger strike is unjustifiable.
  4. Like all people deprived of their liberty, the fact that the Machi is serving a judicial sentence in the Temuco prison does not invalidate his other rights, and it is essential that, within the framework of the security measures that are necessary, he is given the facilities so that he can live according to his beliefs, customs and culture. We urgently call on the relevant authorities to review his prison conditions and actively seek alternatives that allow Machi Celestino Córdova to carry out the ceremony required to safeguard his health and provide him, and all Mapuche people deprived of their liberty, with the necessities to live in accordance to their beliefs, customs and culture while they are deprived of their freedom.
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