British Museum: Return the Moai statue to the Rapa Nui people of Easter Island

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The problem
The British Museum has 'owned' the Hoa Hakananai'a for over 150 years, depriving the Rapa Nui people of the Easter Island who last year reclaimed their right to self-administration of their ancestral land on Easter Island of one of the most important of the world-famous Moai statues.

The statues have a meaning that extends far beyond their value as an imperialist trinket, taken without permission in 1893 and 'gifted' to Queen Victoria. The basalt statues represent the living embodiment of the ancestors of the Rapa Nui people, and therefore embody a connection to history, memory and land that the indigenous dwellers of the island have been deprived of in entirety until recently.

The governor of Easter Island, Tarita Alarcón Rapu, in a meeting with the British Museum said recently '“I believe that my children and their children also deserve the opportunity to touch, see and learn from him...We are just a body. You, the British people, have our soul.”

The solution
The British Museum contains thousands of looted artefacts pillaged from around the world, displayed in a collection that profits from and perpetuates neo-colonialism, depriving cultures all over the world from artefacts that represent their cultural, historical and spiritual truth in the name of the Academy, an Academy that is only just beginning to acknowledge its responsibility to engage in critical decolonising investigation and practice. 

Returning this statue to the Rapa Nui people would be a vital step in symbolically and practically accepting the responsibility that Britain and other ex-imperial powers have in engaging with the rights and demands of post-colonial nations and peoples. In talks held between representatives of the Rapa Kui people and the British Museum held recently the possibility of the British Museum conceding the statue - on loan - was discussed. Loaning the statue is not enough, it must be returned.

Sign this petition to signal your support for the return of the statue to its home on the Easter Island, and therefore to strengthen the case of the inhabitants of the island in future talks to be held between the group and the British Museum.



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