SANTIAGO – A Chilean photojournalist who has been behind bars for 10 months awaiting trial on charges of possession of explosives announced Tuesday that he is on hunger strike to demand better prison conditions.
Felipe Duran, known for his work documenting the conflict in southern Chile between Mapuche Indian militants and the forestry companies that occupy lands formerly belonging to the indigenous people, was arrested last September at his home in the Araucania region.
The photographer, who has worked with EFE in Araucania, is being held at Temuco along with 65 other mainly Mapuche prisoners who face charges related to the land conflict.
Prosecutors are seeking a nine-year sentence for Duran, whose trial began Tuesday.
Duran’s attorney, Nelson Miranda, said he expected his client to be acquitted due to the lack of “incriminating evidence.”
Mapuche militants torch vehicles, highway toll booths and lumber shipments as part of a struggle to reclaim lands lost during a late-19th-century “pacification” campaign against the indigenous people in Araucania and Bio Bio.
The conflict has claimed the lives of Mapuche activists, police and farmers, while dozens of indigenous people have been sent to prison, mainly for crimes against property.