Asel Luzarraga is a Basque writer, anarchist and punk singer. In March 2009 he moved from Argentina to live in Padre las Casas (Araucania, Chile), to be with his new girlfriend.
He had a pretty normal life, taking part in the punk and anarchist underground in Temuco. There he learned about the state-terrorism that Chilean state uses against indigenous Mapuche people, and against the anarchist movement, so he wrote a few articles discussing these issues in his blog.
Chilean authorities didn’t like this very much, especially the way he wrote in support of Mapuche people from an anarchist point of view so, on 31st of December, after nine months living there, the Carabineros (Chilean Police) paid a visit to his home in Padre las Casas.
They had an order to search his apartment, but never explained to him what they were looking for or what he was supposed to be suspected of. They took their time “searching” for a couple of hours, until he was suddenly taken to the bedroom he shared with partner, Vane, and there the Colonel told him he was under arrest because of what they “found” on top of the wardrobe. When he asked about what it was they’d found, the Colonel told him ‘weapons and explosives’, although without showing him the evidence.
He was taken to jail and accused of terrorism. His lawyer told him they wanted to charge him for 4 bomb attacks, and finally, in the prosecutor’s file, he saw for the first time the objects the police had apparently “found” on his wardrobe: an old and empty fire extinguisher, some fuses, a lighter and some nuts and screws.
Despite the claims, Asel’s connection to the 4 bombings were quickly forgotten, as 3 of them were completely impossible: two had happened in Santiago in 2008, before he had even arrived in Chile, and the third one some weeks before his detention, when he was back in the Basque Country to attend the Fair of Basque Literature and Music in Durango (Biscay, BC).
Henceforth, Asel wouldn’t be accused of any terrorist bombings, but of the possession of material for making bombs.
In the Basque Country, Chile and Argentina nobody who knew Asel could imagine him as a terrorist. He was a well known writer of fiction in Basque and Spanish, a gentle-hearted anarchist who preached freedom for the oppressed, and a crazy punk rocker – but not a terrorist who made bombs! So, they formed a big support group that included all kinds of people: relatives, friends, writers, musicians, anti-militarists, hackers, anarchists and punks. Everybody understood he was in jail, not for being a terrorist, but for his ideas and his writings.
The Chilean Intelligence Services also pointed in that direction in the report they used to get permission to examine Asel’s home: they mentioned two of his articles, one speaking about Basque anarchism, and another one about the Mapuche people’s right to fight for their land, and an activity against prisons in which he took part some days before his arrest. They accused him of being an ‘international anarchist leader’ and ‘introducing foreigner ideas to young Chilean people’. That was all. And Chilean media repeated all the time that Asel was Basque, punk and anarchist, as if those features automatically turned him into a terrorist.
The legal process was long. But Asel and his lawyer found a picture taken by the police during the search that showed his bedroom at the moment they arrived… there was no bag, no extinguisher, nothing like that on top of the wardrobe. It was obvious that the police had planted it the bomb making materials.
They showed it during the trial, but the writing was on the wall from the very beginning. Seven days after he was arrested, the Interior Minister had signed an order to expel Asel from Chile, no presumption of innocence for him. That was the main goal of Chilean government, so they needed a guilty Asel to expel him. He was found guilty, but the sentence was very short: 220 days in jail, a period he had already passed under arrest, so he was free… to leave Chile immediately.
In October 2010 he moved back to his home in the Basque Country, finding his name now on Interpol’s list of convicted terrorists, but he wasn’t ready to accept his fate, so his lawyer, Jaime Madariaga, presented a demand against Chilean state at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
They argued that the verdict was based on prejudices and that Chilean state was responsible of tainting Asel’s public image and honor. It has been a very long process, but in December 2019 the Commission resolved that Asel’s case is admissible and agreed with all the arguments presented by his lawyer.
Now his case enters a new phase, another long, tough and expensive one. His lawyer must prepare a long report with jurisprudence and legal arguments and it will take some years until Commission decides if they demand the Chilean state at Inter-American Court on Human Rights.
Asel and his campaign for justice are looking to build international support and financing. He is maybe the only European citizen now with a case accepted in the IACHR, and winning this case is important, not just for him but also for the defense of freedom of speech and conscience, and to put pressure on the Chilean government, whose repression against Mapuche people, and against all Chilean people who are now protesting in the streets every single day, has no end.
Asel’s case is just one in a very long chain of state-terrorism against ideas and original nations, not the worse, but one that can be won and serve for other people in the future.
We are asking everyone who defends human rights to help in any way you can in an effort to make this campaign easier.
Become a member.
Thank you very much on behalf of Asel, all of his friends, and his family!