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Machi Francisca Linconao

HRD & Spiritual Leader
Mapuche People

Machi Francisca Linconao is indigenous spiritual leader for the Mapuche People in Chile. As an indigenous leader, Machi works for the protection of the Mapuche people’s rights and their ancestral territories. In 2008, she submitted a protection action before the Supreme Court in Chile to stop illegal logging in sacred areas of the Chilean forest where medicinal plants used by Mapuche People grew. In her claim, Machi was the first indigenous rights defender in Chile to invoked International Labour Organization’s 169 Convention concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, successfully enforcing the protection of indigenous peoples from an international human rights perspective.

In January 2013, Machi  was violently detained by police forces at her house and forced to change her indigenous clothes, underminding her position and traditions as a Mapuche leader. For the past five years she has been strongly criminalised because of her work in the protection of indigenous and land rights in Chile.


Chile has made significant progress in relation to respect for and protection of human rights since the end of the Pinochet dictatorship and it is one of the South-American countries which has had success in bringging those responsible for the attrocities perpetrated during the dictatorship to justice. Despite of all the developments, HRDs still face police abuses, with demonstrations and street protests being violently repressed several times.


One group of HRDs representing a marginalised community that continue to face difficulties are indigenous HRDs, notably from the Mapuche people, who were criminalised on several occasions on the grounds of the Chilean Anti-terrorist Act. In 2010, the crisis reached a peak when images surfaced of police violence against the Rapa Nui people of Easter Island, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted precautionary measures to this indigenous community. Human rights defenders representing Mapuche individuals in criminal proceedings or accompanying victims and family members have been subjected to judicial harassment, illegal interception of communications, and other acts of intimidation.