20 Aug 2010

Chilean government refuses to comment on Rapa Nui protest

10:18 am on 20 August 2010

The Chilean government is refusing to comment on an ongoing protest by the indigenous people of Rapa Nui or Easter Island.

Two days ago police removed the protestors from the Governor's offices, but a New York-based Rapa Nui Islander says he's concerned for the safety of family members who are still occupying the island's hotel.

Santi Hitorangi says most of Rapa Nui's indigenous population is involved in the ongoing occupation of government and other buildings in a bid to regain control of ancestral lands and to secure autonomy from Chile.

He says a para-military unit of the Chilean police is patrolling Rapa Nui and provoking the protestors but he says they're prepared to die if the government doesn't meet their requirements.

"The tensions are high because people are committed to as they say, the only way you can get us out of here is dead because from here the only way we're walking out is dead."