16 Aug 2010

Tension remains on Easter Island after call to secede

5:02 pm on 16 August 2010

Easter Island's provincial governor is reported to have resigned amid a dispute about independence from Chile.

The Santiago Times says Pedro Edmunds Paoa resigned for personal reasons as protestors among the indigenous Rapa Nui community occupied disputed property.

The newspaper reported last week 45 members from Chile's special forces had been sent to the island to monitor the situation.

A Rapa Nui activist based in New York Santi Hitorangi says he's concerned human rights are being violated and he's pleading for the international community's help in fairly and peacefully ending the conflict.

Community leaders on Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, have threatened to secede from Chile and transfer allegiance to Polynesia in a row over land rights and immigration.

The Guardian newspaper reports prominent indigenous families have told the Pacific Islands Forum they wish to renounce Chilean sovereignty and become part of Oceania.