Congressman Faleomavaega today announced that he wrote a letter to His Excellency Arturo I. Fermandois Vohringer, Ambassador of Chile to the United States, expressing his concerns regarding the recent incidents of violence in Easter Island (Rapa Nui).
In a letter dated January 10, 2011, Faleomavaega advocated for diplomatic measures and human rights standards in Chilean policy towards the indigenous people of Rapa Nui. The full text of the Congressman’s letter follows.
“I am writing to express my deep concerns with the recent acts of violence that have ensued in Easter Island (Rapa Nui) against the indigenous Rapa Nui people. I am greatly troubled by the images and reports of the dozens of injuries which resulted from forced evictions by Chilean armed forces. While the land claims of indigenous Rapa Nui have been challenged for decades, the conflict has escalated to an unprecedented level of brutality.”
“Over the past month, reports and images of two such incidents have stirred up questions among human rights activists, indigenous communities, and government leaders worldwide. On December 3rd, more than 20 Rapa Nui were reportedly injured when Chilean police forcibly evicted members of the Tuko Tuki clan from buildings they had occupied in protest to government land claims. Unarmed, the clan members were clubbed, beaten, and shot with rubber bullets.”
“Furthermore, on December 29th approximately 10 more individuals were injured when a unit of around 100 armed policemen was ordered to remove non-violent protestors from the steps of the Civic Plaza in Hanga Roa. Several reports also stated that police officers aimed directly at victims’ heads, resulting in serious fractures and head wounds for many of the Rapa Nui.”
“Horrific images of brutal beatings and injuries have inundated the media, appalling many. Yet the underlying issue at hand is much deeper than the acts of violence which have taken place. Ultimately, these acts of violence bring to question the fundamental relationship between the Chilean government and the native people of Rapa Nui.”
“The essential question: How will the Chilean government restore justice for the people of Rapa Nui? The history of conflict regarding ownership of ancestral lands in Easter Island stretches back for over a century. However, the policy that your government makes to address this conflict in the coming months and years will have even further-reaching repercussions for the indigenous Rapa Nui, for Chile, and for the Pacific region.”
“Concerned about the potential outcomes, I also write to advocate for the adoption of necessary and appropriate diplomatic and human rights standards to address the serious needs of the people of Rapa Nui and the government of Chile. These ideals are part of the foundation upon which all democracies are built. More importantly, these ideals are a crucial component in creating a lasting and peaceful solution. I respectfully urge your government to formulate a policy founded on these democratic ideals.”
“It is my hope that future efforts will help to address land and eviction issues, prevent future acts of violence, and restore the dignity of the people of Rapa Nui who have inhabited this island for centuries. Lastly, I would also like to request a meeting with you at your earliest convenience to further discuss this serious matter.”
Faleomavaega followed his letter to Ambassador Vohringer by also writing to Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Dr. Arturo Valenzuela, asking the State Department to also take a stand against these violent evictions.