On Thursday, the Human Rights Commission of the Chamber of Deputies unanimously agreed to call the Secretary of the Interior, Rodrigo Hinzpeter, to ensure that no police action would be taken against the Rapa Nui clans who are occupying buildings on Easter Island. The decision to call the Secretary was partially motivated by a claim that a military aircraft had landed on the island with additional police forces. The Chilean government denied that this was the case, stating that, while an aircraft had landed, it did so only for technical reasons. The Undersecretary of the Interior, Rodrigo Ubilla, went so far as to state that the claim about the aircraft was made by the Rapa Nui for malicious reasons.
In addition to calling for no police action on the island, the Human Rights Commission also called for Ubilla and the General Director of Carabineros (police) to clarify precisely what happened on September 7th when police forcefully removed Rapa Nui from buildings they were peacefully occupying.
The Rapa Nui have been occupying public land and buildings on Easter Island since the beginning of August. The occupations have been on lands that the Rapa Nui claim are rightfully their own, but which have been taken by the Chilean government.
Although many lands are involved in the claims, the Hotel Hanga Roa has received the most attention. The Hotel is a multimillion dollar project on the island, and also was the site of the forceful eviction of the protestors several weeks ago. In statements made this week, the Hito clan–who have been occupying the hotel–stated that they want the government to recognize their title to the land and to convert the hotel into a cultural center for the Rapa Nui people.
The Chilean government has constantly maintained that the Hito clan’s claims amount to little more than a private dispute between their family and the current owners of the Hotel. As such, although round table discussions have been taking place on Easter Island for several weeks, the government has repeatedly stated that certain claims–like those of the Hito clan–will not be dealt with in those discussions.