POSTED: 03:38 p.m. HST, Feb 04, 2011
In letters to the president of Chile and the U.S. Secretary of State, Sen. Daniel Akaka has raised concerns over Chilean armed forces evicting Rapa Nui natives who are protesting land ownership.
The letters, dated Thursday, express Akaka’s concern about the evictions that have occurred over the past five months and particularly regarding 13 people in the Hanga Roa Hotel who face eviction Tuesday.
Chilean police landed on Easter Island in August after protesters occupied government buildings for about two weeks, claiming ancestral land ownership.
Akaka’s letter said Chilean police are surrounding the hotel 24 hours a day and that electricity has been cut off to 13 Hito clan members inside, including two children.
Some protesters were seriously injured after police evicted them from a public square on Dec. 29, he said.
“We are concerned that evictions on February 8th could lead to more injuries should Chile follow through,” the letter said.
Akaka also expressed concerns about the Chilean government’s failure to consider the land ownership claims of the clans, criminal prosecutions of Rapa Nui politicians for their involvement in the peaceful land rights campaign, and the ongoing use of force by Chilean Special Forces against Rapa Nui clan members.
The letters to Chilean President Sebastian Pinera and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked Chili’s government to lower tensions by removing police forces patrolling the hotel and to provide provisions to those in the hotel.
The letters were also signed by Congressman Eni Faleomavaega of American Samoa.