13 Apr 2010

Easter Islanders oppose loaning statue for Paris show

11:54 am on 13 April 2010

The Rapa Nui people on Easter Island have refused a request by European organisations to loan one of their renowned Moai statues for an exhibition in Paris.

During a referendum last month, 89 per cent of the islanders opposed the plan to transport the ancient monolithic human rock figure to put on display at the end of this month.

Chile's National Monuments Council, which had initially backed loaning the Moai, says it will make its final decision this week.

The island's 4,000 inhabitants were informed about the project during public meetings before a referendum was held under the auspices of the International Labour Organization's convention on indigenous people.

The islanders have also been concerned about the large number of tourists and the growing number of immigrants from continental Chile.

Last year, they symbolically closed their island for 48 hours, blocking the airport and urging increased awareness of their migration problem.