Update Wednesday: Chilean special forces sent to Easter Island; 500 Indigenous Peoples reclaiming land reported safe on Tuesday, read breaking news article: http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100811/NEWS/8110350/-1/SITEMAPPRESS RELEASE
Contact: August 9, 2010
Santi Hitorangi (845) 596-5403
Susana 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 people
At 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com.