Court orders appeal against assimilation and forced transfer of Colla boys and girls through the school system | Digital medium The Northern Fox

As “excellent news for the progressive demand for indigenous rights,” Ercilia Araya, President of the Colla Pai Ote Community, described the appeal for protection presented in the Court of Appeals of Copiapó, in favor of the children and parents of the Community, who claim against the Chilean educational system, which imposes on them “forcefully move from their indigenous territories to the City of Copiapó to attend school.”

It should be noted that this protection appeal was filed at the end of March 2022 and had been declared inadmissible, but by virtue of an appeal filed by the plaintiffs, the Supreme Court has revoked the initial ruling and ordered the Copiapó Court to process it without conditions. .

Ariel León Bacian, one of the plaintiffs and editor of the appeal, pointed out that “the basis we allege is the violation of the rights to psychological integrity, non-discrimination and the right to freedom of education on the part of indigenous children and His parents. In fact, the Colla boys and girls are cattle herders, live and practice agriculture, and are forced to move to the city, lose contact with their territory and, therefore, are assimilated by the dominant culture. We are not asking that they be left without education, but that the State provide teachers who go to the territory, which is an hour from Copiapó. In a region with great resources, which more than feeds the national public treasury, it is surprising how little concern there is, and the transfer and forced assimilation of indigenous children with the excuse of providing them with education, which seems to be more of a system of cultural extinction than anything else. ”.

Ercilia Araya points out that “since the educational establishments are established in the city, a large part of the indigenous children who inhabit the country’s territories must be faced with decisions as difficult as moving away from their families, homes, territories and customs, in order to fulfill the yearned desire to improve and perfect their education. In some cases, these children must be left in the care of relatives or acquaintances. All this travel and having to sacrifice from such an early age to receive an education causes serious damage linked to the uprooting that occurs in relation to their culture and customs in the territory, affecting the context in which they will continue to live their lives and identify themselves as people. natives”.

The Colla leader adds that “this damage also extends psychologically due to the feeling of being in a constant confinement, for many of these indigenous children, being in a “normal” school is an experience similar to prison, since these structures mostly limited with large walls and bars, not having an iota of cultural relevance to indigenous peoples, focused on the students they receive, imposing rules and customs that for these minors are incomprehensible according to their own customs and ways of life very different. In some cases, these boys and girls have been raised from an early age according to the custom of each community, grazing different animals, working the land alongside their families, raised in high-altitude sectors without visible physical limits, as happens in the city, since for them the territory they have inhabited since ancient times ranges from the mountain range to the coast, without demarcations. In this way, they must sacrifice their lives in order to submit to the system that oppresses them, abandoning their territories of permanence and having to move to nearby cities and towns, losing practices that are deeply rooted in their culture, such as the practice of transhumance, for example, or also agricultural customs typical of the areas, herbal and natural medicine knowledge, adequate use of natural resources and water resources, use of biodiversity, performance of ancestral ceremonies and execution of cultural patterns, among thousands of other activities that must be sacrificed and leave behind in order to receive an education that also forces them to submit to a system that is completely alien to their culture.”

For Ariel León, this system causes various effects, such as “the cultural assimilation of indigenous peoples, ethnocide, psychological alienation, and family conflicts, which go beyond generational gaps but also cultural ones, due to assimilation. That is why we allege the violation of ILO Convention 169, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

It should be remembered that General Comment No. 11 of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, which applies the Convention on the Rights of the Child, orders that the States parties should ensure that school facilities are easily accessible in places where indigenous children live, that the The school year should take into account cultural practices, as well as seasonal agricultural activities and ceremonial periods, and try to adjust to them.

Likewise, ILO Convention 169 establishes that “Education programs and services for the peoples concerned must be developed and applied in cooperation with them in order to respond to their particular needs, and must cover their history, knowledge and techniques. , their value systems and all their other social, economic and cultural aspirations” and that “Governments shall recognize the right of these peoples to create their own institutions and means of education, provided that such institutions meet the minimum standards established by the authority authority in consultation with those peoples. Appropriate resources should be made available to them for this purpose.” For its part, the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Rights prevents “all forms of forced assimilation or integration” of indigenous peoples.

Ercilia Araya recalled that “this is similar to the case of Canada, where indigenous children were forced to attend boarding schools where they were brainwashed, their culture was taken away from them.” Araya refers to the fact that between 1890 and 1997, around 150,000 indigenous children were separated from their families and forcibly interned in hundreds of state school residences in Canada, administered by the government and operated mostly by the Catholic Church. There they suffered systematic physical, psychological and sexual abuse, and thousands of them died. Minors were not allowed to speak their language or practice their culture, being stripped of their customs and ways of life known until then, and forced to speak English or French, in addition to converting to Christianity. The Colla leader adds that “it is true that in Copiapó they do not kill them physically, but they kill their Colla soul, they kill their culture, they give us alienated children, assimilated into their culture and in their mind.”

The appeal asks that the defendants provide the Colla boys and girls of the Pai Ote Community with pertinent education from their people; that the defendants coordinate and finance, with consultation of the community, for the hiring and financing of a teacher who travels to the indigenous territory; and that a Colla educational system be established in the territory, which is later transferred to the Community, with due financing.

The appeal was filed by Ercilia Araya Altamirano, President of the Colla Pai Ote Indigenous Community; Ariel Leon Bacian, Quechua-Aymara, also editor of the resource; Nancy Piñones Ormazabal, Aymara, President of the Aymara Elba Sanjinés Huara Indigenous Community; Verónica Henríquez Antimanqui, President of the Futa Trawun Association of Paillaco; Esteban Araya Toroco, Likan Antai or Atacameño, President of the Lay Lay Indigenous Association of Farmers of Calama; Rafael Tuki Tepano, Rapa Nui; and Carmen Paine Tranamil, Mapuche, secretary of the Alto Biobío Indigenous Association of Butalelbún.

The defendants are the Atacama Local Education Service (SLEP); the Seremi of Education of Atacama; the Hernán Márquez Huerta School; the Fernando Ariztia Ruiz Lyceum, and the Copiapó Municipal Directorate of Education.

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Court orders appeal against assimilation and forced transfer of Colla boys and girls through the school system | Digital medium The Northern Fox

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