Easter Island, WTF?


The bloodstained hands of a Rapa Nui injured by police bullets tell a story.

All hell has broken loose on the island of Rapa Nui (otherwise known as Easter Island), and with it, all illusion that Chile is a modern democracy and not a colonial fiefdom. This Kaos en la Red report demonstrates otherwise, particularly at the end:

A police operation in the civic centre of Hanga Roa left thirty persons injured and resulted in the expulsion of the Tuko Tuki family from the lot they occupied there.

The actions began around 6 a.m., when the occupants were asleep. Without provocation, some 40 police officers arrived on the scene, and fired a shot at Gaspar Tepihe, who was badly wounded in the foot.

The officers also beat Ricardo Hito, who was badly hurt. They did the same with Roberto Ika Pakarati, with whom they were particularly violent. They also arrested Verena Ika Pakarati and Margarita Pakarati Tuki, against whom there was a judicial order to remove them from the plot of land they had taken. All were arrested.

Afterward, several Rapa Nui people gathered to protest the expulsion. They were watched by some 15 police officers. Around 8 a.m., 25 persons, armed with sticks and stones, tried to reoccupy the land, but were repelled with gunshots and steel pellets. Those were the worst moments, since the carabineros [Chilean militarized police] of the special forces not only used those weapons against those attacking them, but against a group of persons who had stayed at a respectful distance. Those were minutes of horror.

“Something never before seen on the Island,” said Ina Araki, to Radio Bío Bío, of Chile. The bullets and pellets were spread out over the entire centre of Hanga Roa. Nine police contingents took part in the repression, while two hundred persons in the square sought refuge. Dozens of persons were injured in the shooting.

The worst injured were Ricardo Tepano and Leviante Araki, the president of the Rapa Nui Parliament. Tepano was struck in the eye by a shot pellet. Araki was gunned down by four policemen at point-blank range, who then proceeded to strangle him on the ground, with no regard for his rank. The police didn’t miss a detail; they also burned the Rapa Nui flags they found there. They had done the same on September 7, when they expelled a group from the Hotel Hanga Roa. It is very probable that this action was the result of an order by the minister of the Interior, Rodrigo Hinzpeter, since the Rapa Nui clans had denounced him before the Human Rights Commission of the Chamber of Deputies.

Ricardo Hito was brutally tortured in the commissary of Mataveri. They would not even allow him to receive medical attention, despite his grave injuries.

That afternoon, photos published by the Rapa Nui People’s Press team gave clear proof of the carabineros’ unusual violence. However, without any proof, the Intendent of Valparaíso, Raúl Celis, told the press there had been 17 injured carabineros. Some media reported this as though it were fact. In spite of mentioning 17 injured, they showed no photos. The carbinero version of the story was that the occupiers threw Molotov cocktails at them, though there were no witnesses nor any evidence that this had occurred.

Celis also said that there had been three injured among the Rapa Nui, none of them gravely.

Nearly 16 Rapa Nui with injuries were brought to the island hospital. Others, just as injured, preferred not to go to hospital for fear of punishment. Around 8 p.m., most of the injured had been discharged. The four most badly injured remained hspitalized, among them Tepano and Araki.

By midday, while the Island was wracked by violence, on the mainland (Chile), the media began to realize the gravity of what had occurred. Immediately various political parties began to react. Senator Juan Pablo Letelier headed to the Moneda [presidential palace], where he spoke with the minister, Hinzpeter, who expressed his dismay at the police actions. Senator Alejandro Navarro gave a declaration in which he criticized in harsh terms the events that had taken place on the island. He implored the government not to criminalize the Rapa Nui cause, and not to militarize Easter Island. He feared that such repression would only strengthen demands for autonomy by islanders.

Hugo Gutiérrez, president of the Human Rights Commission of the Chamber of Deputies, promised to visit the island on Tuesday, December 7. He will be accompanied by a deputy, Sergio Aguiló.

Edie Tuki Hito says of what took place, in no uncertain terms: “This was a massacre.” She says the police violence was out of all proportion. Tuki Hito says that together with the actions of December 3, relations between Chile and Rapa Nui were “irreversibly damaged.”

Edie, who is staying in the Hotel Hanga Roa with about 30 relatives, feels that the Government of Chile “made a big mistake in treating our people this way.”

On December 3, in the late afternoon, two Chilean Armed Forces planes landed at Mataveri Airport. According to various sources, more than a hundred police officers with anti-riot gear and machine guns were in them.

It is evident that the State of Chile has decided to impose its will by force of weapons, and do away in this manner with the self-determination of the Rapa Nui people. Only with solidarity at the international level, as well as within the island, can further bloodshed be avoided.

Filled with hope in these tragic moments, the thousands of messages of solidarity which we have received in the last 24 hours from all over the world. More than ever, we note that the struggle for liberation of our people crosses borders and creates ties which will be fundamental for freeing us from the oppressor state of Chile, which instead of giving us love and understanding, continues to beat us with the colonialist whip.

Translation mine.

Consider this another message of solidarity from abroad to the Rapa Nui people. They have been through so much, and it’s still not over for them. Like the indigenous Mapuche, they too are shouting into a deaf ear, as far as Chile is concerned. Don’t expect this situation to improve under Sebastián Piñera; if the part about the two planeloads of armed carabineros is true, and there is no reason to doubt it, then this violence was very much premeditated, and is a sign of further repressions to come.

Fuerza Rapa Nui. I wish I could say it in your native language, but I don’t know a word of it, unfortunately.

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