|Photo copyright Michelle Cook, Dine' (Navajo)|
Today, a delegation of Amnesty International greeted Joye Braun, Cheyenne River Lakota, and an original organizer of Sacred Stones Camp.
Article by Brenda Norrell
CANNON BALL, North Dakota -- Amnesty International arrived at the Sacred Stones camp today, where thousands of Native Americans and allies have gathered to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline.
With 28 arrests, battles in federal court, and verbal assaults by the North Dakota governor and media, Amnesty International is the most recent to arrive in the camp in Cannon Ball, along the Missouri River.
Native Americans have been blockading the construction of the pipeline and protecting burial places of Dakota and Lakota, and protecting their drinking water in the Missouri River. The river is the source of water for millions in the heart of America.
The Dakota Access Pipeline was secretly permitted in segments to avoid detection, while water protectors were focused on halting the Keystone XL pipeline.
The Dakota Access Pipeline relied on manipulations of the public trust, and rapid fire permitting by the U.S. Corps of Engineers. It then began the destruction of the land for the pipeline.
Dakota Access Pipeline is part of a larger system that goes all the way from the Alberta tar sands in Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. The dirty crude oil pipeline from the Alberta tar sands could flow through this system. The tar sands pipeline owner Enbridge in Calgary, Alberta, is a major investor in Dakota Access Pipeline.
The Dakota Access permits were requested from the United States in the spring of 2014. President Obama visited Standing Rock, where Lakotas were battling to protect the Ogallala Aquifer from the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline -- that June. Obama later announced that the Keystone XL pipeline was rejected, but there was no mention of that the Dakota Access Pipeline was being permitted.
If this pipeline were to proceed, the underwater pipeline could poison the water. Pipelines always leak, say Native Americans defending the water.
The ACLU also released a statement and said that the police blockade on the highway near Mandan, to camp from Bismarck, violates the First Amendment right to Free Speech.
The Standing Rock Sioux Nation has sued Dakota Access Pipeline and federal court. Yesterday in Washington, a judge delayed ruling on the pipeline until Sept. 9, and slated the appeal court date as Sept. 14, 2016.
Statement by Amnesty International
AUGUST 24, 2016
Amnesty International USA to Observe North Dakota Pipeline Protests
As a federal court issues a decision regarding whether construction of a disputed pipeline can go forward, Amnesty International USA has sent a delegation of human rights observers to monitor the response of law enforcement to protests by Indigenous communities in North Dakota.
Thousands of people have gathered in recent weeks at the construction site of the Dakota Access Pipeline at the border of North and South Dakota, close to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. State law enforcement has removed state-owned water tanks that have served as the main supply of drinking water for the encampment, citing public safety concerns. 29 people have been arrested in the past two weeks.
AIUSA sent a letter today to the North Dakota Highway Patrol and the Morton County Sheriff Department notifying them of the delegation and outlining how authorities are required to act in accordance with international human rights standards and the U.S. Constitution during the policing of protests.
“It is the legitimate right of people to peacefully express their opinion,” the letter reads. “Public assemblies should not be considered as the ‘enemy.’ The command hierarchy must convey a clear message to law enforcement officials that their task is to facilitate and not to restrict a peaceful public assembly.“
Amnesty International has history of monitoring protests and police conduct to ensure adherence to international standards for human rights. In the United States, AIUSA has deployed delegations of observers to Ferguson, MO, and Baltimore, MD, to monitor protests in the wake of police killings, as well as to Cleveland and Philadelphia to monitor the protests outside the Republican and Democratic National Conventions earlier this year.
AIUSA’s letters to authorities in North Dakota make clear: