[WHRD Alert] ARGENTINA / False accusations and defamation used to criminalize defender Moira Millán and Mapuche people for forest fire in Los Alerces National Park

Last January 25, a devastating forest fire raged through the Los Alerces National Park, which is part of the ancestral territory of the Mapuche people. After the fire, Ignacio Torres, governor of the Chubut Province and member of the ultra-right Republican Proposal (PRO), along with news media such as The Nation, hurled false accusations against Mapuche rights defender Moira Millán, charging her with being the mastermind behind the blaze and the ideologue of the nonexistent “Ancestral Mapuche Resistance”. This supposed organization is a media fiction aimed at criminalizing the Mapuche people. It was created during the rightwing government of Mauricio Macri by the current Ministry of Security and ex-presidential candidate Patricia Bullrich.

In response to the charges, Mapuche representatives insist that it is no mere coincidence that the blaze broke out in a territory plagued with diverse economic interests promoting the development of real estate and extractive projects. This context is coupled with measures adopted by the ultraliberal, misogynous, racist government of Javier Milei to set up legal frameworks such as the Decree of Need and Urgency. Thisdecree aims to benefit entrepreneurs and their practices of plunder, real estate speculation, and environmental devastation. 

In acts of intolerable cynicism, the accusations against Moira Millán and the Mapuche people are aimed at criminalizing these who have historically defended the Los Alerces territory based on their cosmovision and exercise of their collective rights. Governmental measures seek to protect the interests and maintain the impunity of those who are truly responsible for and benefit from their destruction: corrupt governments and entrepreneurs. 

Moira Millán is a Mapuche weychafe (warrior) and human rights defender with a long history of struggle for the collective rights of her people and the rights of Mapuche women. She is leader of the movement for the recovery of ancestral indigenous lands and member of the Movement of Indigenous Women for the Good Living. Since 2017, she has denounced the death threats she and her daughters have received due to their struggle against the disappearance and assassination of environmentalist Santiago Maldonado.​

These attacks against Moira Millán are part of a strategy of selective persecution against the Mapuche people that aims to discredit voices with the greatest social legitimacy, one of which is her own, a voice recognized both nationally and internationally. 

We of IM-Defensoras stand in solidarity with our sister Moira Millán and with the Mapuche people, and demand an immediate end to the accusations and defamation against them. 

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