8 Dec 2010

Uneasy calm on Rapa Nui amid land occupations

8:47 pm on 8 December 2010

A lawyer representing the indigeneous people of Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, says the government of Chile has not replied to last month's request for information by the Inter American Commission of Human Rights.

Leonardo Crippa, who's based in Washington DC, has been acting for the Rapa Nui after children were subject to violence during evictions by Chilean forces earlier this year.

Last week, violent clashes broke out when special forces began evicting Rapa Nui from premises which they say were built on ancestral land taken from them in the 19th century.

The president of Chile, Sebastian Pinera, has justified the police action, saying the state's duty is to uphold the law.

The administration in Valparaiso says it hopes all Rapa Nui occupations will be ended in the next three weeks.

But a member of the Rapa Nui parliament, Mario Tuki, has told the La Tercera newspaper that if the land dispute cannot be settled, the island should demand its independence that it had before.