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Police evict occupations on Rapa Nui

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DescriptionTension continues in Rapa Nui (Easter Island) following last week's operation by Chilean government forces to remove indigenous activists from several buildings they were occupying. Six buildings and sites were occupied by activists concerned that traditionally-owned land, currently used by the Chilean government, could be sold, and by increasing immigration to the island that threatens to make Rapa Nui a minority in their own land.

Activists occupied the governor's office, a property of the Ministry of Public Works, an interior ministry compound, a site belonging to the archaeological museum, access to a hotel under construction and pedestrian access to the state bank. Details are sketchy, with reports that around 40 carabineros (para-military police) were sent to the island, and that they, along with an unknown number of marines, cleared the occupiers from the sites at gunpoint. There have been repeated accusations that police had previously tried to indimidate and provoke locals.The island's governor resigned after allegations that he was backing land sales.

About 4000 people, half of them indigenous, live on Rapa Nui. It's unclear how many people are involved in the protests, though numbers of up to a thousand have been cited. At least a few indigenous people support continued Chilean control, citing recent improvments in economic prospects and services.

The protests are part of an on-going campaign for greater autonomy or independence for the island.

After the Chile's annexation in 1888, a Chilean sheep farmer leased most of the island, soon replaced by a British company. The local population, previously decimated by epidemics, forced relocation and slave raids, was moved into a small corner of the island. Their land, from which they were forbidden to enter, was used to graze sheep. Poverty and diseases, especially leprosy, were rife.

In 1914 the islanders rose up in rebellion. Some tried to escape their homeland in small boats. In 1952 control of the island was passed to the Chilean navy, who ran it as a military ship. Another revolt occurred in 1964.

During the 1990s locals blocked archeological sites and imposed a 'cultural tax'. Last year the airport was occupied and flights disrupted as a result of concerns that immigration was bringing in criminals and settlers in such numbers as to overwhelm the Rapa Nui. As Rapa Nui is considered part of Chile, there are no limits on immigration from the rest of the area comtrolled by the Chilean state. The government promised to act on this problem but little has happened.

Activists recently declared a desire to remove the island from Chilean control and forge links with the rest of Polynesia. Leviante Araki, head of the Rapa Nui Parliament, requested secession in a letter to the Pacific Islands Forum and to Chile's President Sebastian Pinera.

Radio New Zealand International is one of the few English-language media organisations following this issue, see http://www.rnzi.com/.

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Comments

Tautoko Rapanui

Re: Kia OraDate: Fri, 13 Aug 2010 07:50:16 -0400 (EDT)From: anamaeha@aol.comTo: uriohau@gmail.com

 

spread the word and callChilean Embassy in Aotearoa and demand they stop putting my wanau undersiege over land that as you know are Rapanui land. They will overthowthe Rapanui people that has been re-occupaying their ancestral lands. This is happening throughout the island; families of different clanshave taken over lands that houses gov. buildings and housing. Now theRapanui people are demanding title to their lands and anew courseforward would be renting or leasing the lands to the gov.

 

 thanks for your attention and kiahio koe hai here nuinui mai Rapanui...Santi

 

 

PRESS RELEASE

 

Contact: August 9, 2010Santi Hitorangi (845) 596-5403Susana Hito (845) 371-2100

Pacific Islanders non-violently take back Easter Island

 

At 12 noon today Chile's armed forces set to annihilate 100s of unarmed indigenous Rapanui peopleAt 12 noon today armed Chilean forces (navy marines) and intelligence officers (dando vueltas) are set to crush 100s of unarmed Pacific island natives of Rapanui, aka Easter Island, who are staging a non-violent retaking of their ancestral land through occupation.

 

Since last week hundreds of unarmed islanders had moved into government buildings, the museum and the privately-owned Hanga Roa hotel.

 

The Rapanui families have filed for protective orders to be issued (a constitutional action or recurso de amparo preventivo). Yet, today the Chilean forces are on the verge of attack without the world knowing of the Rapanui's plight.

The Hanga Roa Hotel, which during the Pinochet dictatorship was sold to private multinational investors. The Hito family is now occupying the Hanga Roa Hotel their ancestral legacy. Santi Hitorangi, a member of the Hito family, who is currently living in upstate New York says: "

The Rapanui people were left no choice but to take action. I have been unable to return to my country because when I started to construct traditional agricultural structures "manavai" on my land, a warrant for my arrest was issued, for "criminal trespass" on my own land.

 

For the past two years I have been fighting the Hotel's relentless persecution to detain, charge and jail me. After my family retook the Hanga Roa Hotel, a condition of negotiation, is that all criminal charges against me dismissed."

 

The root of the current revolution is based in the Chilean's continued occupation and systematic abuse of the Rapanui people, in violation of the United Nations laws on political decolonization and today also the International Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, to which Chile became a signatory in 2007. Chile's actions also violate Chile's own Indigenous Laws, which make it illegal for non-Rapanui people to own land on the island. The Chilean government has continued to condone abuses relating to health, usurpation of lands, and endangerment of the fragile environment and eco-system of the island by unrestricted immigration of foreigners and Chilean nationals.

 

In August 2009, the Rapanui people took over the international Mataveri Hanga Roa airport for three days, at which time the Chilean government agreed to start giving control over immigration through a constitutional amendment. To date the Chilean government has not fulfilled its agreement and the fragile ecosystem of the island is endangered. Chile has only delayed political decisions which are needed, such as the intervention of the Committee on Decolonization of the United Nations, return of usurped state owned lands, and restrictions on immigration.

 

BACKGROUND:

 

For nearly 2000 years the Rapanui civilization flourished in isolation the middle of the Pacific Ocean, The Rapanui developed a written language and performed engineering feats considered impossible. The Rapanui are not an ancient, extinct people, but today the are very much alive and vibrant.

 

Yet most of the world does not even know the Rapanui people exist, and believe Easter Island to be a deserted, mysterious island with the monolithic rock statutes, known as the Moai, seen in advertisments and movies such as, "Night at the Museum". In the mid 1990's UNESCO declared Rapanui a "patrimony to humanity", a human heritage site.

In 1888 when the Chilean navy claimed Rapanui only 110 Rapanui remained, today the resilient Rapanui number nearly 5,000 despite abuses and attempted genocide.

 

The alleged "treaty" between the Rapanui and Chile was written in both Spanish and transliterated Rapanui, only 110 Rapanui remained. Each side of document has completely different meaning and intent. The Rapanui side establishes a relationship of FRIENDSHIP between Rapanui and Chile, whereas the Chilean side states that the Rapanui CEDED all their rights in the island.

 

It is unthinkable for the Rapanui people could ever hand over their island to a foreign power, since they had no where else to go, being 3,800 miles from their closest neighbor.

 

Today the Rapanui people have reclaimed their land rights to their ancestral home. Piru Huke, a woman leader whose family has taken over the governor's residence, states that, "Rapanui is inextricably the land, the language and the people. None of which can be separated or sold. This togetherness confirm the unbreakable link between the Rapanui people and their land."

 

Donations for a legal defense funds of Rapanui may be made, to Te Pito Productions, a not-for-profit corporation. An auction of Rapanui petroglyph rubbings will be announced shortly. For more

 

information please inquire anamaeha@aol.com, or tepitoproductions@mac.com.

This is nothing but neo colonialism

This is sadly happening on many islands in the South Pacific, including Irian Jaya, being the western part of New Guinea, that is occupied by Indonesia. The French keep occupying Polynesia on the eastern side and only allow a certain degree of autonomy. Other island states like Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Cook Islands are largely dependent on foreign aid to make a living. Sadly commercial interests are the ones gaining the upper hand, because all dominant occupying countries are demanding that the local island populations become more "self sufficient" and "economically smarter". So they are forced to let in private investors to take over land, beaches, buildings and whatever to "develop" these according to purely commercial terms and get them to make a profit (naturally paying off for the "investor"). The locals are nothing but prey and slave labour, display objects for tourists and pawns in the political game that surrounds all this. What can be done? It is hard to organise a plane load of protestors to go there. Hence protesting outside embassies may be an idea. But I doubt whether this will seriously catch on in NZ, where many do not even know where Rapanui or other islands are. Other issues at home seem more pressing, but we should not forget what goes on in the wider realm. So thanks Sam Buchanan for bringing this to our attention. It is what we need to know and take action on.