12 December 2010

Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs Condemns Attack on Rapa Nui

UBCIC Condemns Attack on Unarmed Rapa Nui

Urgent News Release
 (Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver, Canada)

The Chilean government, and most recently the Canadian government, adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples within the bounds of their legal and constitutional frameworks. The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by Chile and 143 States at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2007. Yesterday, December 3, 2010, after months of relatively peaceful reoccupation of their lands, Chilean troops opened fire on unarmed Rapa Nui (Easter Island) People.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs stated “What the Chilean government did was ugly, unbelievable and reprehensible. We as Indigenous Peoples must condemn the Chilean government for these unacceptable acts of violence and brutality. The UBCIC supports the Rapa Nui People protecting their lands, their island and their archaeological treasure, the Moai. Chile's President Sebastian Pinera must be directly involved to resolve this growing crisis."

As many as 50,000 tourists travel each year to see the Moai - huge stone heads carved by the Rapa Nui's ancestors. In recent years, tourism and migration have increased pressure to control available land on the 10 mile by 15 mile island, and the Rapa Nui have increasingly taken matters into their own hands, seizing a dozen properties they said were illegally taken from their families generations ago. The latest media reports state additional reinforcements have landed on the island and Chile's Interior Minister stating they will continue "evicting" Rapa Nui People.

“As Indigenous Peoples, our fight is the same the world over. Indigenous Title and Rights are ignored, dismissed and violated," said Grand Chief Phillip. “Chile is one of many countries who adopted the UN Declaration but continue to deny the international legal reality of our Indigenous Title and Rights. As demonstrated yesterday, it seems the Chilean government would rather attack unarmed people than find a lasting and peaceful solution. In the spirit and true intent of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the UBCIC calls on the Canadian government to join the many voices of many Peoples to denounce the violent actions of the Chilean government.”

Media inquiries:
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of BC Indian Chiefs
Phone: (604) 684-0231

The UBCIC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.