Chilean troops flown in to suppress Easter Island protests
On Sept. 29, a C-47 military plane arrived on Rapanui (Easter Island) with more Chilean troops to augment the already in-place armed forces set to remove indigenous Rapanui people from their ancestral lands. Since July 31, the Rapanui have non-violently re-occupied the land illegally taken from their grandparents and have been demanding their legal title to be restored. That same day, Marisol Hito, spokeswomen of the Hitorangi clan, presented her people's case to the Human Rights Commission of the Chilean chamber of deputies.
The Commission unanimously voted to stay any order to harm or remove Rapanui people from their claims. Hito stated, "We have been asking to negotiate for 60 days with the Chilean government, but they have refused to negotiate and instead sent in armed troops to cause psychological and physical duress. From day one we have been expressing that our claim is for recognition of title to our lands, and the ability to manage our sovereignty."
The Human Rights Commission filed a protective order for the 18 children that are in the occupation at the Hanga Roa Hotel. The Hanga Roa property was illegally sold during the Pinochet regime to a non-Rapanui person, and was subsequently transferred to a non-Rapanui corporation, in violation of Chilean law, which land title on the island to Rapanui people.
Ironically Chile uses the Rapanui moai, the well-known monolithic stone statutes, on its currency and passports. Only 5,000 Rapanui people exist today. In 1994 UNSECO declared Rapanui as a "heritage of humanity." (Save Rapanui, Sept. 29)
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