Back to top

Upcoming trial of Mapuche leader Alberto Curamil

Status: 
Upcoming Trial
About the situation

After being postponed due to the recent political crisis in Chile, the trial against Mapuche leader Alberto Curamil will take place on 13 November 2019 at 9:00am at the Oral Trial Court in the city of Temuco. It is estimated that the trial will last one month.

Due to the current political crisis in Chile the trial against Lonko Alberto Curamil has been postponed until 13 November 2019.

The first hearing against the Mapuche leader, Lonko Alberto Curamil, is due to take place on 21 October 2019 in the city of Temuco, Araucanía. The human rights defender has been wrongly accused of engaging in a number of criminal activities for which the Attorney General's Office is asking for a sentence of over 50 years in prison. The hearing has been postponed four times by the General Prosecutor in 2019 due to unnecessary delays in submitting the case to court. As a result, Lonko Alberto Curamil has been kept in pretrial detention for 14 months.

About Alberto Curamil

Alberto CuramilAlberto Curamil is an indigenous Mapuche lonko (traditional leader) and member of Alianza Territorial Mapuche (Mapuche Territorial Alliance) or ATM, an organization that works for the right to water and food, land and environmental rights in southern Chile. Lonko Alberto Curamil has worked tirelessly to defend and protect the environment in Curacautin, in the Mapuche region of Araucanía, particularly from destructive logging activities. Alberto’s leadership has led to the cancellation in 2016 of two hydroelectric projects that would have negatively impacted the sacred Cautín River. He is the winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize for South and Central America 2019.

11 November 2019
Alberto Curamil’s trial begins

After being postponed due to the recent political crisis in Chile, the trial against Mapuche leader Alberto Curamil will take place on 13 November 2019 at 9:00am at the Oral Trial Court in the city of Temuco. It is estimated that the trial will last one month.

Alberto Curamil

On 15 August 2018, Alberto Curamil was detained with another member of Alianza Territorial Mapuche (ATM), Alvaro Millalén. Alberto Curamil is being accused of illegally raiding a compensation fund (an entity administering social security benefits) in April 2018, as well as gun theft and the illegal possession of weapons. The incidents are alleged to have taken place in the town of Galvarino, a great distance from the city where Alberto Curamil was at the time. The complaint made to the police was anonymous, as were the witnesses to the alleged crime. Alberto Curamil has worked tirelessly to defend and protect the environment in Curacautin, in the Mapuche region of Araucanía, particularly from destructive logging activities. In 2013, he publicly denounced the construction of two mega hydroelectric projects and rallied communities against it. The construction was proposed without the consultation of the Mapuche people and would have severely affected their sacred river. These projects, known respectively as Alto Cautín and Doña Alicia, would have diverted over 500 million gallons of water per day from the Cautín River for power generation, damaging ecosystems and aggravating the existing droughts in the region. Alberto Curamil’s leadership led to the cancellation in 2016 of the two hydroelectric projects. In this regard, it is believed that Alberto Curamil’s detention may be designed to help pave the way for new hydroelectric projects in the region without the need to inform or consult local communities.

Front Line Defenders believes that Alberto Curamil has been falsely accused of engaging in a number of illegal activities as a direct result of his work to protect the environment. It calls on the authorities in Chile to ensure that his trial, for which the human rights defender could face almost 50 years in prison, is conducted in a fair, independent and law-abiding manner.

 

 

22 October 2019
Trial against Lonko Alberto Curamil postponed

Due to the current political crisis in Chile the trial against Lonko Alberto Curamil has been postponed until 13 November 2019. The postponement has occurred in the context of the deeply concerning repression of social protests in Chile. The demonstrations started on 18 October 2019 due to the rise in the price of transportation, but have come to incorporate other demands like the precarious pension and education systems and impunity on tax evasion. Currently, demonstrations are being held in different parts of the country and military forces have been deployed on the streets of Santiago, Valparaiso and Concepción.

Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned about the governments imposed state of emergency, which enables the army to police demonstrations and set a curfew. Furthermore, we show our rejection at the number of human rights defenders and civilians that have been seriously injured and killed in the context of the repression of the right to freedom of assembly and expression.

16 October 2019
Upcoming trial of Mapuche leader Alberto Curamil

The first hearing against the Mapuche leader, Lonko Alberto Curamil, is due to take place on 21 October 2019 in the city of Temuco, Araucanía. The human rights defender has been wrongly accused of engaging in a number of criminal activities for which the Attorney General's Office is asking for a sentence of over 50 years in prison. The hearing has been postponed four times by the General Prosecutor in 2019 due to unnecessary delays in submitting the case to court. As a result, Lonko Alberto Curamil has been kept in pretrial detention for 14 months.

Download the Urgent Appeal

Alberto Curamil is an indigenous Mapuche lonko (traditional leader) and member of Alianza Territorial Mapuche (Mapuche Territorial Alliance) or ATM, an organization that works for the right to water and food, land and environmental rights in southern Chile. Lonko Alberto Curamil has worked tirelessly to defend and protect the environment in Curacautin, in the Mapuche region of Araucanía, particularly from destructive logging activities. Alberto’s leadership has led to the cancellation in 2016 of two hydroelectric projects that would have negatively impacted the sacred Cautín River. He is the winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize for South and Central America 2019.

In 2013, Lonko Alberto Curamil publicly denounced the construction of two mega hydroelectric projects and rallied communities against it. The construction was proposed without the consultation of the Mapuche people and would have severely affected their sacred river. These projects, known respectively as Alto Cautín and Doña Alicia, would have diverted over 500 million gallons of water per day from the Cautín River for power generation, damaging ecosystems and aggravating the existing droughts in the region. As a reprisal, in 2014, police arrested Curamil and two other Mapuche leaders, accusing them of disorderly conduct and causing public unrest. Curamil was beaten while in custody, and his wife, then pregnant, was also physically harmed by the police. In 2016, Alto Cautín hydro project was canceled by Chilean environmental authorities due to public opposition from the communities. Having failed to address the environmental impacts of the project or consult the Mapuche people, Doña Alicia was also later canceled.

On 15 August 2018, Alberto Curamil was detained with other member of ATM, Alvaro Millalén. Alberto Curamil is being accused of illegally raiding a compensation fund (an entity administering social security benefits) in April 2018, as well as for gun theft and the illegal possession of weapons. The incidents are alleged to have taken place in the town of Galvarino, a great distance from the city where Alberto Curamil was at the time. The complaint made to the police was anonymous, as were the witnesses to the alleged crime. It is believed that Alberto Curamil’s detention may be used as a tool to pave the way for new hydroelectric projects in the region without the need to inform or consult local communities. Family members, colleagues and allies have launched an international solidarity campaign asking for his release.

Since Alberto’s detention, members of his family, including two minors, have also been targeted with attacks and intimidation, including harassment, search and destruction of their dwelling, drones spotted flying overhead, monitoring by unidentified individuals, anonymous calls to their neighbours containing insults and slander, among other intimidating acts. Any appeals filed before Chilean justice authorities have not been accepted or yielded any result.

Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned at the misuse of criminal law against human rights defenders in Chile. It sees this as a retaliation for their work protecting indigenous and environmental rights and believes it to be particularly worrying given the history in Chile of fabricating charges and applying terrorism law against Mapuche leaders and their supporters.

Front Line Defenders expresses concern over the ongoing criminalisation of Mapuche leaders and the effect that the imprisonment of Alberto Curamil may cause in the fight for environmental and Mapuche rights in the Araucania region. In addition, Front Line Defenders reiterates its call to the Chilean authorities to sign, ratify and implement the Escazú Agreement, in order to provide an enabling environment for the defence of environmental rights in the country.