Chile: Young Mapuche Boy shot by Carabineros

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Source: Mapuexpress | The Dawn News | December 20, 2016

Brandon Hernández Huentecol. Photo Credit: Entorno Inteligente
Brandon Hernández Huentecol. Photo Credit: Entorno Inteligente

In Curaco, a rural area of the Collipulli commune, Chile, an agent of Carabineros, the militarized State police shot Brandon Hernandez Huentecol, a 17-year-old Mapuche boy who tried to protect his 13-year-old brother after he had been reduced by the police officer for an “identity check”. The police shot over 140 pellets against Brandon, of which 100 impacted on his body. The boy is now struggling between life and death in the German Clinic of Temuco, where he has undergone a surgery. This act of unjustified violence reminds us reminding us what happened to other young Mapuche boys, such as Alex Lemún.

In Temuco, several representatives of Mapuche and human rights organizations have visited the German Clinic, either to donate blood or to express their rejection and repudiation against this police action. Likewise, several demonstrations have been called to protest against this new human rights violation.

The communications area of the Network for the Defense of Territories has stated: “In Chile, claims for the rights of the Mapuche people and claims against police brutality continue to be intertwined and in recent years two murders have been committed, similar to what happened to Alex Lemun, who died at the age of 17 after being shot in the head or cases like the one of Catrileo and Mendoza Collio, who were assassinated, and several disproportionate acts of violence committed by the militarized police agents of the State, such as the shooting women and children, and committing cruel acts of torture: for example, the many cases of tortures of Mapuche people by members of the Special Operations Police Group (GOPE) in 2016 in the town of Tirúa, that remain unpunished.

The Network added: “Of course, police abuses and brutality are exacerbated when large areas are under state of siege. Here, there is a clear responsibility of the sectors that call to militarize rural areas, with thousands of officers and over thirty units. Instead of looking for ways to solve conflicts through justice and peace, the State is being controlled by the interests of colonialist landowners and forestry companies that waste billions of pesos in military strategies that violate human rights.

These conservative groups, several of which have participate in the multi-guild association, not only remain silent before police brutality, but rejoice whenever there is violence and abuse against the Mapuche children and families. They are a part of the structural violence that is ingrained in the Chilean society and the State. There is a profound racism behind all this. Violence and conflict have not been generated by the Mapuche people and Brandon’s case is a consequence of the violent militarization and racism that the Mapuche people suffered from”, they said.

 

Amnesty International

On the other hand, Amnesty International strongly regretted and rejected the excessive use of force to which the 17-year-old Mapuche was subjected to in Curaco yesterday. The human rights organization stated: “According to media reports, the young man was shot in the back by Carabineros when he intervened in the aid of his 13-year-old brother, who was being subjected to a police operation. According to testimonies that were made public by the media, the young man had already been reduced to the ground at the time of the shooting. This incident unfortunately left the young man at life-threatening risk in a clinic in Temuco”.

Amnesty International also added that “Carabineros, as agents of the State, must fulfill their duty to safeguard public order within a framework of respect for human rights. According to international standards, the use of firearms by police officers must always be limited to a last resort, and their use is not justified if it is possible to reduce the person by other less harmful means”.

Amnesty International demands this event to be investigated in a rigorous, independent and impartial way and that it is appropriately punished according to the seriousness of the crime. In addition, it requests the delivery of clear information on what actions are being taken to prevent cases like this from happening again. Carabineros, the Office of the Prosecutor and the Ministry of the Interior must ensure this, and this crime must not remain unpunished and in impunity.

 

Declarations by the militarized police

The Carabineros General Chief of Staff said the incident was “an accident” and asked “respect” for the institution and for the officer involved. “I don’t want this to distort the reality of what happened”, he said.

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