Facundo Jones Huala of the Mapuche started a hunger strike on Wednesday, a day after he was extradited to Chile, in protest against Argentina’s decision to ignore the United Nations Human Rights Committee's demand to postpone the process.
Human rights experts demanded that the Argentine government halt the extradition in order to address a complaint issued by Jones’ lawyer, arguing that his political and civil rights have been violated.
But the calls were ignored and the Lonko, a leader in Mapuche communities and families, was extradited to Valdivia.
“The Lonko Facundo Jones Huala is currently on dry strike since he was transferred from Esquel in protest of the decision of the Argentine state to ignore the demand of the United Nations,” the Network in Support of Communities in Conflict said in a statement.
The process had been plagued by irregularities, including torture of a key witness, which led the U.N. to issue the demands.
According to reports, Jones allegedly participated in a fire attack on a farm in 2013 in Chile, and was found in possession of a firearm. Six others were arrested, but later released for lack of evidence. His new trial in Chile will begin on Dec. 4.
Also on Wednesday, Argentina’s Supreme Court of Justice stripped six Mapuche communities of their legal entity status, affecting their political rights.
The status had been granted in 2002 through the National Institute of Indigenous Affairs. The province of Neuquen, however, argued that the decision was taken without taking them into account.
The affected communities were Lof Gelay Ko, Lof Lonko Purran, Lof Lefiman, Lof Wiñoy Tayin Raquizuam, Lof Maripil and Lof Wiñoy Folil.
The Mapuche Indigenous group has been discriminated against in both Argentina and Chile.
Living mainly in Chile’s Temuco region, Mapuche have been battling the government as they try to regain land lost during Chile's 19th-century expansion southward into Mapuche-held territory.
Meanwhile, in Argentina, territorial rights have fueled numerous movements and unjust state repression in the Patagonia region.