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In 1991 Chile made a minor adjustment to its Anti-Terrorist law No 18,314 , which caused a major impact on the Mapuche in particular.  The adjustment deleted any ‘political connotations’ from its legislation and defined the act of terrorism as a form of violent crimes, in which arson was included.

Mapu Star

Mapu is the word for land in Mapudungu, the language spoken by the Mapuche.

The Mapuches were using arson as a form of retaliation against non-Mapuche landowners and multinational forestry companies who occupied Mapuche territories, when in fact that land had once belonged to the Mapuches.

The Mapuches argue that this law was selective when applied and it targeted the Mapuches.  By incriminating Mapuche people under the anti-terrorist law, the Chilean legal system used ‘relaxed procedures’ and allowed anonymous witnesses to charge and incarcerate Mapuches.  Bail was not an option under the anti-terrorist law and subjected Mapuches to lengthy detention prior to their trial.

Source: International Commission of Jurists, “Assessing Damage, Urging Action: Report of the eminent jurists panel on Terrorism, Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights: Criminal Law – Definitions in law of terrorism”, (2009) 125.  http://www.un.org/en/sc/ctc/specialmeetings/2011/docs/icj/icj-2009-ejp-report.pdf  Accessed July 12, 2012.