Rapanui (Easter Island) Under Fire By Chilean Troops
Taken from a press release
Early this morning armed Chilean troops opened fire with rubber bullets on Rapanui civilians. The police started shooting and tear gassing as the Rapanui people gathered in solidarity.
Now there is blood on the streets.
Leviante Araki, the President of the Rapanui Parliament was shot twice in the region of his hip and rib cage and is being air lifted to hospital. A young man, Richard Tepano, was shot at short range in his right eye and is now in critical condition. Maori Pakarati was shot above his right eye and arm, where parts of a rubber bullet remain stuck. Zita Atan was shot in the head, Pia Vargas was shot in her right leg and Honu Tepano was shot in the shoulder.
As the Chilean troops charged towards the fleeing Rapanui, ClaudioTuki was hit in the forehead and Enrique Tepano was shot in the face. Santi Hitorangi was shot in his right leg from behind, and as he attempted to continue to film the situation he was shot twice in the back.
At 5:45 Jose Rikorokoi who was on Rapanui land adjacent to the bank building was beaten about the head, and Chilean troops then violently removed the unarmed family of Michael Tuko Tuki.
The Rapanui people are determined not to be removed from the land that they feel is rightfully theirs and try to defend themselves by throwing rocks amid the bullets flying toward them.
The judge and fiscal official who activated the order for the police to take action appear to have disappeared and no other officials can be found to answer for what is happening. The police claim that they are only following orders.
Yesterday the Governor asked the Rapanui people to evacuate the premises but they refused. She apparently has no powers to stop the police moving in. After months of relatively peaceful reoccupation of their lands, the Chilean government attacked the Rapanui people with force.
The Rapanui people want to be issued with title deeds to their lands as this is required under Chilean law. Instead of finding a peaceful solution the Chilean government has delayed and criminalized the Rapanui clans that are carrying out the re-occupation.
However, the Rapanui are committed to this fight even although they have no funding and are unarmed. The Rapanui say that they are up against large well financed foreign and Chilean private interests who aim to privatize the island and its archaeological treasures, the MOAI.
As we publish the website Save Rapanui has been closed down – however the last update we managed to salvage was “Early this morning armed Chilean troops opened fire on unarmed Rapanui civilians.”
A cached version of the site is found here
As one local commented, “The island is an open air museum made by the ancestors for the people of today”. The question remains about who should benefit from one of the world’s greatest archaeological treasures. The local Rapanui, or outside investors, who see profit before people.
More images can be found here