January 12, 2011
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has expressed to the Government of Chile his concern over the evictions and violent clashes, and the threat of future evictions, against members of the Rapa Nui peoples on Easter Island, Chile. The Rapa Nui have held peaceful occupations of buildings and other places on the island since July 2010 to demand recognition of their rights to their ancestral lands. The Special Rapporteur encouraged the Government to prevent further evictions and to ensure that police presence on the island does not exceed what is necessary and proportionate to ensure the safety of the island’s inhabitants. He urges the Government to make every effort to carry out a good faith dialogue with representatives of the Rapa Nui people to solve, as soon as possible, the underlying issues in the current situation.
Read the complete declaration [Spanish only].
UNOFFICIAL ENGLISH TRANSLATION of the MEDIA STATEMENT
Chile/ Easter Island: Statement of UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya, regarding the eviction of Rapa Nui indigenous peoples
GENEVA -- I would like to inform all concerned that I have maintained communication with the Government of Chile, holding an exchange of information on the status of the Rapa Nui peoples of Easter Island. I have expressed my concern about eviction measures undertaken by members of the security forces in response to claims that various Rapa Nui clans have made in the last five months on Easter Island (Rapa Nui) as a result of historical claims of the Rapa Nui peoples to the island. In this regard, the Government has informed me that it has promoted various measures to address the claims of the Rapa Nui peoples, including conducting roundtables.
Despite the report from the Government, it is evident that the situation remains worrisome, as indicated by the recent events on Easter Island, in particular the events of December 29, 2010. According to information I received, about 70 Rapa Nui people were peacefully occupying the Riro Kainga Square in the center of Hanga Roa, as an act of protest in claiming their ancestral territorial rights, when they were evicted by a hundred heavily armed police, who beat around twenty people, including several women and children. This occurred after the Government and the Rapa Nui Parliament were not able to reach an agreement to voluntarily terminate the occupation of the Riro Kainga Square.
Furthermore, according to information received, forced evictions may continue to occur, as might be the case for members of the Hito Rangi clan who have been summoned by prosecutors to appear on January 13th, 2011 at a public hearing formalization the alleged crime of usurpation.
I have expressed my concern to the Government regarding these events and the violent clashes, along with the threat of possible future evictions. All these events have again destabilized relations between the State and the Rapa Nui clans and do not create a conducive climate to realize a dialogue process.
In this sense, in a letter sent to the Government on January 10, 2011, I have recommended that [the State] prevent further evictions and that police presence on the island should not exceed what is necessary and proportionate to ensure the safety of its inhabitants. In this regard I note with interest the decision of the Court of Appeals of Valparaiso, from 11 November 2010, role 343, which in turn dismissed an application for eviction of the Hito clan, noting that 'the islanders consider themselves legitimate owners of the Island” and “it can not be ignored that in regards to the magnitude of the issues being discussed, they have acquired a political character.
I have also urged the Government to make the maximum effort to conduct a dialogue in good faith with representatives of the Rapa Nui peoples to solve, as soon as possible the underlying problems that explain the current situation. I believe that it is particularly pressing in relation to the recognition and effective guarantee of the Rapa Nui clans’ right to their ancestral lands, based on their own customary tenure, in accordance with ILO Convention 169, of which Chile is a party, and other relevant international norms.
Finally, I made an urgent appeal to the Government to take the necessary measures to avoid threats or harm to the physical safety of members of the Rapa Nui peoples and punish those responsible for any excessive or disproportionate use of force during the police eviction operations.
As the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples I will continue to monitor the situation of the rights of the Rapa Nui people closely, maintaining dialogue with the Government and all interested parties to contribute to finding solutions according to human rights standards.
On March 26, 2008, the Human Rights Council UN appointed James Anaya as the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples for an initial period of three years. Mr. Anaya is Professor, Chair James J. Lenoir Policy and Humanitarian Law at the University of Arizona (USA).
OHCHR country page - Chile: http://www.ohchr.org/SP/Countries/LACRegion/Pages/CLIndex.aspx
See United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N06/512/10/PDF/N0651210.pdf?OpenElement