Thursday, December 09, 2010
CHILEAN SECURITY FORCES OPEN FIRE ON INDIGENOUS ISLANDERS
Indigenous islanders just want what belongs to them. As usual, the STATE opens fire in response.
There are calls for calm on Easter Island after Chilean security forces opened fire on indigenous land protesters, who have been occupying a government official's house for months.
Three islanders and one policeman were evacuated to mainland Chile for treatment following the violence, while another 20 were injured.
Chilean forces had gone to a property on the Polynesian island to evict 10 people who had been occupying the house since ousting the government official from it in September.
They opened fire after being surrounded by rock-throwing protesters.
The protesters, who are the descendants of the original Polynesian inhabitants of the island, claim 13 properties on the island, including one hotel, were all illegally taken from their families decades ago and are demanding their return.
Last month, a Court of Appeal ruled they had a legitimate claim to ancestral ownership but the island tribunal decided to issue eviction notices anyway.
Speaking to ONE News on the Chilean mainland, the governor of the seaport city of Valparaiso, Raul Celis, said that the situation on Easter Island was complicated.
"The situation, I would not say it's serious, but complicated. There was an eviction and buildings had been occupied illegally for several months," he said.
The Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) has now intervened, urging all parties to seek a peaceful outcome. It says it is concerned for the indigenous people of the island."Obviously there isn't a situation of complete normality on Easter Island."
"We are concerned about the outcome because we have not received any more news. I think there is a media clampdown on Rapanui as of now," PCC spokesperson Fe'iloakitau Tevi said.
The council has also asked the Red Cross for help in a bid to prevent violence escalating further.
Easter Island, also called Rapanui, is one of the most isolated inhabited islands in the world and a territory of Chile.
The tiny island is famous for more than 800 moai or statues carved by the original Polynesian inhabitants