Violent evictions continue on Rapa Nui

Samson Kaala Reiny

HONOLULU—According to the Save Rapa Nui website, Chilean authorities are continuing their violent tactics against the Rapa Nui people as 200 armed police stormed the parliament building on Wednesday and beat them with clubs, women and children included, before arresting them. It is said they were defending the president of the Rapa Nui Parliament, Leviante Araki. Valparaiso Governor Raul Celis, the island’s top government administrator, apparently ordered the severe measure.

According to Lola Tuki, a member of one of the native families attempting to reclaim their ancestral lands, the level of violence is unbelievable. She says that the police were calling the women “goddamn Indian bitches” before violently grabbing them. 

Calls to Rapa Nui contact Santi Hitorangi for more information and clarifications have not yet been returned, though Arnie Saiki, the Save Rapa Nui website moderator, did speak with him recently. According to Saiki, family on the island have intimated to Hitorangi that the government will be removing the Hito clan from the Hangaroa hotel and arresting them within the next few weeks. The Hito had been previously evicted from the hotel – built on their family lands – at the beginning of September when they first occupied it, but they reoccupied the premises shortly thereafter.

The potential eviction goes against recent government actions. First, the Chilean Human Rights Commission has made it clear that it does not support the police violence being waged against the Rapa Nui. Second, over a month ago, an appeals court ruled that the Rapa Nui couldn’t be charged with criminal trespassing or face eviction from their lands without a determination to who has clear title to the land.

That being said, it is of interest to note the other national sympathies at work. Chilean billionaire-cum-president Sebastian Pinera, who defends the government’s strong-armed tactics, is the first elected right-wing leader the country has seen in 52 years. He won the office in January, which ended twenty years of center-left rule.