31 Mar 2011

US lawmaker believes Chile police overstepped authority in clash with Rapa Nui

4:01 pm on 31 March 2011

American Samoa's member of the US Congress says he believes Chilean armed police on Easter Island overstepped their authority by shooting peaceful demonstrators from Rapa Nui clans during a violent clash in December.

Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin has met Rapa Nui leaders and Chilean officials in the hope of finding out more about a long-standing conflict over ancestral land rights on Easter Island.

He says the dispute is over inconsistent policies set by the Chilean government towards the indigenous people and believes addressing land claims is a priority.

"The gist of my observations in meetings is that I honestly believe that the Chilean carabineros or the police, the armed police, I think they kind of went over their authority to end up shooting people who I understand were unarmed. And that was one of the things that I came back with in understanding that this is what took place and I'm going to continue pursuing this matter with Chilean officials in the government."

Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin says he has also addressed the matter in writing to the President of Chile, Sebastian Pinera, the President of the United States, Barack Obama, and the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.