Attack on Rapa Nui natives

SUBHEAD: Chilean police use force to oust indigenous people on Easter Island out of their homes.  

By Staff on 4 December 2010 for the BBC - 

Image above: Photo of Rapa Nui woman with head injury from confrontation with Chilean police. From BBC article.
"The land on this island has always been Rapa Nui. That's why we're asking for our land to be returned” Maka Atan - Rapa Nui lawyer

At least 25 people have been injured during clashes between Chilean police and local people on Easter Island. 

Witnesses say police fired pellets as they tried to evict several indigenous inhabitants from buildings they occupied earlier this year.

The Rapa Nui group say the buildings were illegally taken from their ancestors several generations ago.

Easter Island, which was annexed by Chile in 1888, is a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Chilean security forces began their operation in the early hours of the morning, says reports.

When the group refused to leave and others gathered at the scene, they opened fire with pellet guns.
Officials said 17 police officers and eight civilians had been injured. But the Rapa Nui put the number of injured locals at 19, and denied that any police had been hurt.

A number of people were also arrested and at least one person was air-lifted to the mainland for medical treatment.

A statement on the Save Rapa Nui website said several people had been shot at close range. It said police had used rubber bullets and tear gas.

"They injured at least 23 of our brothers and sisters, three of them seriously," Edi Tuki, a relative of one of those injured, told the Efe news agency.

"One was shot in the eye with a buckshot pellet from just a metre away."

'Shooting to kill'
Maka Atan, a Rapa Nui lawyer, told the Associated Press police had been "shooting to kill". He said he was shot in the back by pellets.

"It seems like this is going to end with them killing the Rapa Nui," he said.

Rapa Nui is the official name for the remote Easter Island, which lies more than 3,200 km (2,000 miles) off the west coast of Chile.

The tiny island has a population of about 4,000 but is best known for its ancient giant carved stone heads, known as Moais.

The indigenous Rapa Nui people have been protesting for the past three months about what say are plans to develop the island, as immigration and tourism increase.

They are demanding the return of ancestral land they say was unlawfully seized from their grandparents.

"The land on this island has always been Rapa Nui. That's why we're asking for our land to be returned," Mr Maka told AP.

"Nobody has said this is a normal situation," said Raul Celis. "There was an eviction, and buildings had been occupied illegally for several months."
Mr Celis said the evictions would continue.

Media reports said police reinforcements were traveling to the island from the mainland.

Dozens Hurt on Easter Island 

By Staff on 3 December 2010 for The Associated Press -  

Image above: Rapa Nui queen and entourage in 1877 after relocation to South America. From ( 

A land dispute on Easter Island turned violent Friday when riot police evicting islanders from their ancestral home were surrounded by rock-throwing protesters.

About two dozen people were injured in a seven-hours-long confrontation. The clash began at 5 a.m. when officers moved in to evict 10 people from the home they had been occupying since ousting a government official from the property in September, Rapa Nui lawyer Maka Atan told The Associated Press.

The Rapa Nui resisted and the violence left 17 officers and eight civilians hurt, according to police.

Three islanders and one policeman were evacuated to mainland Chile for treatment. But protesters said that 19 islanders were injured and denied seeing any police hurt. The official native name of Easter Island, known for its stunning gigantic stone heads known as Moais, is Rapa Nui, and that's what many natives call themselves, refusing to identify with Chile, which annexed the island in 1888.

In recent years, tourism and migration have increased pressure to control available land on the 10 mile by 15 mile island, and the Rapa Nui have increasingly taken matters into their own hands, seizing a dozen properties they said were illegally taken from their families generations ago.

A woman who answered the local government official's phone in the island's main town of Hanga Roa said there would be no official comment on Friday's violence.

But Atan, speaking by phone from the island 2,237 miles west of Chile, said riot police used batons and shotguns against them, firing pellets at close range at their heads. He said he himself was shot in the back with pellets.

Images shared with The AP show several islanders bleeding from head wounds. About a dozen buildings are currently being occupied by Rapa Nui people, who say Chile illegally took their family's ancestral homes on tiny Easter Island, where a total population of fewer than 5,000 people include about 2,200 Rapa Nuis.

The island's top government authority, Valparaiso Gov. Raul Celis, said from mainland Chile that "the evictions will continue." Chilean media reported that a planeload of police reinforcements was on its way to the island. Atan said he witnessed police firing pellet guns at people's faces from a distance of just one yard. "They were shooting to kill. It seems like this is going to end with them killing the Rapa Nui," he said, adding: "The land on this island has always been Rapa Nui.

That's why we're asking for our land to be returned." .


Mauibrad said...

See also:

ghpacific said...

It all seemed so peaceful from these documentaries: and
In Moritz Thomsen's book 'Living Poor' an Ecuadorian official was asked what he thought the solution to the native population was and he made a machine gun out of his hands and sprayed. At Moritz's shocked look he said, "Isn't that what your country did?"

Mauibrad said...

Pacific churches launch aid effort for Rapa Nui
Posted at 06:56 on 07 December, 2010 UTC

The Pacific Conference of Churches has launched an aid effort for Rapa Nui people, injured during clashes with Chilean forces last week.

The PCC’s General Secretary Fe’iloakitau Tevi says the group’s responding to calls for help from a representative of the indigenous people’s parliament on the island, also known as Easter Island.

Dozens were injured when police used rubber bullets and tear gas after an early morning attempt to evict Rapa Nui from a building they’d been occupying during their ongoing ancestral land dispute with the Chilean government.

Mr Tevi says the PCC has contacted the International Committee of the Red Cross to help.

“There is some concern about an uneasy tension on the island right now and they fear that things will get worse. For us the issue of the people of Rapa Nui is a Pacific issue and we will always consider them as part of the region. We feel that we are in solidarity with them and we need to step in.”

Mr Tevi says governments in the region should be pressing Chile over the weekend violence.

Radio New Zealand International
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