Chile: Jailed Mapuche Leader Faces Death as Health Worsens
Indigenous leader Francisca Linconao was detained in 2013 and remains a suspect under an anti-terror law. | Photo: Mapuexpress
The hunger-striking Indigenous leader is under a great risk of vital functions failure, according to a new medical report.
A new medical report warns that jailed Chilean Indigenous Mapuche leader Francisca Linconao is at risk of dying as her hunger strike to demand her freedom continues to weaken her already-fragile health.
“The severe deterioration of her health condition can become irreversible and even cost her life,” says the report completed on Dec. 31, 2016, by a certified medical and psychological team. “Among the risks to which the patient is exposed with the hunger strike are permanent consequences in various vital functions, such as neurological, liver, cardiac and renal functions.”
According to the doctors, the detained leader not only suffers physical deterioration, but spiritual loss of strength as she is deprived of freedom “which prevents her from accessing what she considers her main source of energy, the one that comes from nature, its sacred ceremonies and its mission to offer health.”
The 60-year-old activist has been on hunger strike since Dec. 23 and only consumes liquids. She was detained in 2013 and accused of arson in an incident that led to the deaths of two powerful landlords and still awaits trial.
According to an interview by the medical team, the Machi or Mapuche leader said she is willing to continue the strike until she can’t go any further.
“I want to live, but I am willing to risk my life,” said Linconao. “I am very depressed because I can’t fulfil my spiritual mission, which is to heal others, to give health and well-being to those who need it.”
Linconao has no access to media and claims that she has been threatened and humiliated by prison officials, according to a statement given inside the Mapuche Medical Centre, where she is guarded by six armed policemen.
“When I started the hunger strike, after the third day, they gave me a document from the warden of the women’s prison in Temuco, who said they would sanction me for seven or 30 days after I finish my hunger strike,” said Linconao.
According to the doctors, if Linconao dies during the hunger strike, it would worsen conflicts with Indigenous groups in the country and “would mark a serious precedent in terms of human rights at national and international levels.”
Finally, the medical team recommended alternative measures of imprisonment, such as house arrest, based on the agreement signed by the Chilean state in 2008, which gives this preference to members of Indigenous groups.
According to the report, the Chilean justice system has approved this type of prevention for Linconao, but the ruling has not been fulfilled due to the country’s anti-terror laws.