Rapa Nui Leaders Arrested

On August 15, the President and Vice President of the Parliament were arrested for collecting the entrance fee to Rapa Nui National Park. They were released the next day but were forbidden to enter their sacred sites. The President, Leviante Araki Tepano, was arrested twice more for returning to and protecting his ancestral territory.

These first arrests were followed by an attempted illegal search of the Rapa Nui Parliament office, which was objected to by several Parliament members including Matias Riroroko and his daughter Eliza Riroroko. The prosecutor then ordered the closure of the Rapa Nui Parliament and sent police forces to prevent further meetings.

On August 26, Chilean security forces arrested Matias and Eliza Riroroko for alleged crimes of illicit association, contempt, obstruction of an investigation, attack on authority, and fraud. They were ordered detained for 120 days while they were under investigation for these charges. The detentions of the Rirorokos were overturned by the Court of Appeals due to lack of evidence, and Matias and Eliza were released on September 4. However, on September 10, just as Eliza Riroroko was making arrangements to go to Geneva to address the UN Human Rights Council, she was arrested again, along with her father and the President and Vice President of the Rapa Nui Parliament. All four were accused of being a “danger to society” and placed under house arrest for an indefinite time. These arbitrary detentions are again being reviewed by the Court of Appeals.