Chile: Dozens Hurt In Easter Island Land Disputes
A land dispute on Easter Island turned violent Friday (3 Dec) when riot police evicting islanders from their ancestral home were surrounded by rock-throwing protesters. About two dozen people were injured in a seven-hours-long confrontation. The clash began at 5 a.m. when officers moved in to evict 10 people from the home they had been occupying since ousting a government official from the property in September, Rapa Nui lawyer Maka Atan told The Associated Press.
The official native name of Easter Island, known for its stunning gigantic stone heads known as Moais, is Rapa Nui, and that's what many natives call themselves, refusing to identify with Chile, which annexed the island in 1888.In recent years, tourism and migration have increased pressure to control available land on the 10 mile by 15 mile island, and the Rapa Nui have increasingly taken matters into their own hands, seizing a dozen properties they said were illegally taken from their families generations ago. About a dozen buildings are currently being occupied by Rapa Nui people, who say Chile illegally took their family's ancestral homes on tiny Easter Island, where a total population of fewer than 5,000 people include about 2,200 Rapa Nuis. The island's top government authority, Valparaiso Gov. Raul Celis, said from mainland Chile that "the evictions will continue."
Tags: Land rights