August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Communities Condemn Obama Administration for Militarization of Border

Contact: Derechos Humanos: 520.770.1373
Communities Condemn Obama Administration's Decision to Further Militarize the U.S. - México Border
We must stand together on May 29, 2010 to show our resolve against injustice
By Derechos Humanos
Photo: Angie Ramon, Tohono O'odham whose son Bennett Patricio, Jr., was run over and killed by the US Border Patrol, stands before crosses at San Xavier to remember the migrants who died crossing the Sonoran Desert. Photo: Brenda Norrell.

TUCSON - The Coalición de Derechos Humanos along with groups across the country, condemn Tuesday's announcement that the Obama Administration will send 1,200 National Guard troops to Arizona and will request an additional $500 million to "secure" the Mexican border.

The decision by Obama to "up the ante" on the militarization scheme of over 16 years, not only follows his administration's record of continued attacks on immigrant families across the nation since he became President but his own DHS 800 ICE agent military-style assault on the communities in Arizona on April 15, 2010. Last year, President Obama also sent more than 700 new federal agents to the border, at that time responding to cries of non-existent "spill-over violence," feeding the continued growth of the militarization and of the anti-immigrant sentiment.

"Our communities have born the consequences of border security policies implemented since the mid-1990's-thousands of migrants who have been funneled to their deaths along the Arizona-Sonora border, dangerous spikes in xenophobia and the growth of hate groups, negative economic impacts and other tensions for border communities, the eventual election of anti-immigrant politicians and the enactment of anti-immigrant laws" stated Isabel Garcia, member of Coalicion de Derechos Humanos. "Now this new decision will be felt increasingly and devastatingly across the country."

In July of 1994, Doris Meissner, then Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) released the "Border Patrol Strategic Plan: 1994 and Beyond," which clearly shows that their predicted effects of increased militarization would lead to the current political conditions in the state of Arizona.
"Those of us who knew that Arizona was 'chosen' to become the laboratory for the anti-immigrant policies back in 1994, now hope that we can finally reframe the immigration debate by demanding that President Obama and the Congress engage in a dialogue that includes an analysis of our foreign and economic policies, such as NAFTA and the Merida Initiative (and the resulting migration), a review of our immigration laws and policies that have encouraged unauthorized migration, and an acknowledgement of the vast contributions made by immigrants," stated Garcia. "We must tell the U. S. public the truth about immigration. But if we follow the same framework and continued increases in police and other enforcement/prosecution measures such as Operation Streamline, we will continue the negative consequences as well, including the unprecedented expenditures."

The decision to send military troops into civilian communities is also extremely dangerous. On May 20th, 1997, the nation was horrified by the murder of a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil by the military. Eighteen year-old Esequiel Hernandez, Jr., who was tending to the family's goats on his family's ranch in Redford, Texas was stalked for twenty-one minutes and then shot and killed. The U.S. Marines, part of Joint Task Force Six, an INS/Department of Defense unit working along the border, worried that they had killed an innocent civilian and watched Esequiel dying for approximately twenty minutes before calling in to report the incident. A House Judiciary Sub-Committee subsequently made damaging findings, including accusations of obstruction of investigation, and clearly illustrates the dangers of placing military troops in civilian communities.

Derechos Humanos and allies across the country call on each one of us to take responsibility to learn the truth about the immigration issues and to engage in dialogue in our own communities and families. While those in power focus on pitting us against each other, worker against worker, Big Oil and Wall Street get a free pass. We must not allow the attacks on our communities. We demand that the Obama Administration reverse his decision to send national guard troops to our border and to request half a billion dollars to "secure the border." Our country needs real security - jobs, health care, quality education, housing, healthy communities - not measures that bring pain, division, hate and destruction.
Coalición de Derechos Humanos
P.O. Box 1286 Tucson, AZ 85702
Tel: 520.770.1373
Fax: 520.770.7455

A Sacred Fire is Burning at Eagle Rock

Kennecott and Law Enforcement Break Up Eagle Rock Camp

Sign the Petition to Halt Sulfide Mining at Eagle Rock

AP article on arrests:

A Sacred Fire is Burning at Eagle Rock
By Cynthia Pryor
Huffington Post
Around the world, indigenous communities are defending their homelands and sacred sites from mining companies with more urgency than ever. With the fictional Avatar receiving so much media attention, it's important to realize that very real battles between indigenous communities protecting sacred sites and corporations infringing on them are happening in the real world. And not just in exotic corners of the world, but right here in America, in the Great Lakes, where millions get their drinking water.

Rio Tinto has from the beginning played out the role of the big bad mining company in its plans to mine nickel and copper in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The project has been marred by a flawed approval process, with one expert hired by the state insisting the project could collapse on workers. Despite unresponsive regulators and politicians, a persistent grassroots movement has stalled the company plans by years already.

This seven-year battle between Rio Tinto and local citizens came to a head when I was arrested a couple weeks ago for "trespassing" on land the company wants to mine for nickel, copper and other precious metals. I was doing what I've been doing on a weekly basis for over a decade - walking with my dog to Migi Zii Wa Sin, or Eagle Rock, a sacred site to Anishinaabe tribes. Rio Tinto took my presence there as a threat and called local law enforcement to the scene. I was arrested and jailed for refusing to leave land the company still has no legal title to.
The important thing about my arrest is that it happened on public land. A couple years ago, Rio Tinto signed a land use lease with the State of Michigan to build surface facilities and a portal for their mine. They still lack federal approval to move forward, yet have bulldozed anyway in order to fence the land off for 40 years and blast a portal for the mine into Eagle Rock. The ore body itself lies underneath a river that feeds into Lake Superior, the largest and most pristine of the Great Lakes.

Under the Treaty of 1842 the Anishinaabe have retained all rights for fishing, hunting and gathering on public lands over a wide swath of land in Michigan and Wisconsin. By allowing Rio Tinto to mine a sacred site, the State of Michigan has disregarded these long-standing rights and dismissed Eagle Rock as a place of worship. Would Rio Tinto get away with blasting a mine into the floor of a Christian cathedral? I doubt it.

My arrest triggered three brave members of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) to act in protecting their treaty rights and sacred site. They arrived at Eagle Rock the night of April 23 in a beat-up Geo Metro to "take a stand." The courage of these women, who were the first to occupy Eagle Rock, has inspired many more men and women - both native and non-native - to gather here to protect this place.

"I am here because I am a woman and we protect our sacred water," Charlotte Loonsfoot (picture to left by Chauncey Moran), a member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, told me about her initial decision to occupy Eagle Rock. "It is the bloodline of Mother Earth and if we pollute her blood, we will die."

"We have done ceremonies before recorded time until the Treaty of 1842 and our people's removal from our culture and our language. Our stand at Eagle Rock is not only to protect our water, but the spirit in Eagle Rock."

This place, while held sacred by the Anishinaabe, is also a place that is dear to the people living in the small remote communities surrounding Eagle Rock. Locals cherish the notion that America still has remote places where no industrial lights block out the stars, no industrial noise blocks out the wind in the pines, and where people may quietly enjoy these quality public lands held in trust for them by the State of Michigan.

Our state government has sold us out on this public land heritage by placing the wealth and profit of Rio Tinto over the health and welfare of the people it represents. Not only do they fail to recognize the sacred value of Eagle Rock and the rights of the Anishinaabe, they have allowed this company to proceed without federal approval while arresting citizens under absurd charges for getting in the way of Rio Tinto's plans.

Rio Tinto is working now to fence off this public land and Eagle Rock and doesn't seem to mind moving forward without legal authority from the federal government. The Anishinaabe and their non-native supporters will not allow this to continue. We will peacefully stay here until the state recognizes our rights to public land, the sovereign rights of the Anishinaabe, and their right to their sacred land - right here at Eagle Rock.

Cynthia Pryor lives seven miles away from Rio Tinto's planned mine, near the Yellow Dog River, and has worked through the grassroots Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve since 1995.

Anyone interested in keeping up on this issue can find photos and more information at the blog for the Eagle Rock occupation,

Navajos Protest Uranium Mining Plans

Navajo Activists Protest Uranium Mining Plans
Democracy Now!
A group of indigenous activists have traveled to Denver this week to protest a uranium mining conference discussing new mining projects on Navajo land. Three Navajo activists were removed from the conference despite being formally invited to attend one of the sessions. On Thursday, one of the three, Nadine Padilla of the Multicultural Alliance for Safe Environments, protested her expulsion.
Nadine Padilla: "The problem is this is a meeting we should have been involved in from the start. The four proposed mines on Navajo land is something the community members need to be a part of. We need to be at the table and need to have our voices and our concerns heard by people who are making the decisions, such as the federal agencies like the Nuclear Regulatory Commission."
Statement from Navajos:
We call on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the National Mining Association, Uranium Resources Inc. and Hydro Resources Inc. to take immediate action to reverse the dangerous and deadly course you are taking. On behalf of all the communities and living creature still suffering from the legacy of uranium mining we demand that you immediately:
Respect and abide by the Navajo Nation’s ban on uranium mining
Revoke/Withdraw all four ISL permits for uranium mines slated for Crownpoint and Church Rock communities on the Navajo Nation.
Consider existing conditions and cumulative impacts in your licensing decisions. This is what matters to the human body.
Support the cleanup of the 259 abandoned uranium mines and tailing sites in New Mexico.
Insure that drinking water is protected. Contamination must not be allowed from traditional or in-situ mining practices. Water is sacred and vital to all life.
Enough Is Enough
No New Permits for Uranium Mines!
On May 18, 2010, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver rejected the needs of the people by allowing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Hydro Resources Inc to mine uranium that can impact the aquifer that supplies drinking water for 15,000 Navajos in Church Rock, New Mexico. Dissenting Judge Carlos F. Lucero explained the error in his colleague’s legal opinion this way:
“HRI plans to mine the site, which will result in total radiation levels nine to 15 times the permitted regulatory limit,” he said.
These mining permits are the First step in a process that threatens the local and global environment with contamination from mining.
The Navajo Nation Government unanimously passed a Uranium Mining Ban on tribal lands in April of 2005. Despite this ban, mining corporations like Hydro Resources Inc. (HRI) and Uranium Resources Inc. (URI) have relentlessly pursued permits for new mines, including mines on native sacred sites in New Mexico.
There is NO NEED for new uranium mining. The value of uranium has been artificially bolstered by false promises of “nuclear power renaissance”. The reality is that current nuclear reactors are in their final years of operation and have adequate fuel. No nuclear plants have been licensed, constructed or are even under construction in the US. The Obama Administration would like to change that and this is one step in the process of expanding the nuclear industry – both power and weapons. There are proposals for 22 new uranium mines, billions for weapons expansion and a number of nuclear power plants have been proposed. This is the wrong direction.
A History of Destruction and No Accountability
Uranium mining began in earnest on Navajo land during the Grants Uranium Boom from the 1950s - 1980s. The NM State Mining and Minerals Division lists 259 uranium production mines and 400 uranium exploration sites with a concentration in the Grants Belt.
When most of these ‘legacy’ mines were operating the Clean Water Act hadn’t been passed and the New Mexico Environment Department didn’t exist. Of the 259 uranium production mines, 137 have no record of any kind of cleanup work.
Navajo families continue to live with the radioactive pollution and increased health risks from past uranium mining and milling, including the United Nuclear Corporation (UNC) uranium mill tailings spill into the Puerco River, in the Church Rock area in 1979. This was the largest release of radioactive waste in U.S. history. URI/HRI which acquired this site from UNC in 1993 has still not committed to a full cleanup of the Old Church Rock Mine and the spill.
Today, HRI/URI claims that in-situ mining is safe. But communities like Kingsville TX, disagree. URI has been unable to restore the water quality contaminated by the in-situ mining there.
In-situ leaching releases large amounts of radon, and produces waste slurries and waste water during recovery of the uranium from the liquid. Dangerous radioactive heavy metals are mobilized in this process. It is technologically impossible to restore natural groundwater conditions after leaching operations have been completed.
Why is the US Government and Mining Corporation Disrespecting Our Communities and Putting Us at Risk?
By turning their backs on local opposition and ignoring the hard fought battle of tribal communities and environmental organizations in New Mexico and Texas, state and federal regulators, the courts and environmental agencies have failed to protect these lands from exploitation and environmental destruction.
This is an issue of environmental racism. Despite opposition to new uranium mining from 13 Navajo communities and dozens of other local and regional institutions since 1995, the US Government and Corporate interest continue to press forward.
How You Can Help?
Contact Steve Cohen at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and ask him to revoke permits for all four proposed mines at Crownpoint and Church Rock communities on the Navajo Nation. Demand all the abandon mines are clean up and health effects addressed! or (301) 415-7182
Become part of the Disarmament Summer Campaign – support the sustainable action encampment this summer July 30th-August 9th in Chimayo, NM. On the August 6th, the 65th Anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki we will protest this nuclear insanity where it all began – Los Alamos. Be there!

Indigenous Environmental Network: Four Principles for Climate Justice

Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) releases its Four Principles for Climate Justice
By Indigenous Environmental Network
Photo: Cochabamba Climate Conference by Ben Powless, Mohawk

Indigenous Peoples must call for the most stringent and binding emission reduction targets. A growing body of western scientific evidence now suggests what Indigenous Peoples have expressed for a long time: Life as we know it is in danger. Western scientists tell us that climate change is accelerating, and that changes are happening faster than expected. New scientific information made available since the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report shows that changes in ocean acidification, melting of permafrost, and ice melting are happening much faster than projected by the IPCC. Objectives must be made to reach stabilization of GHG concentrations at 300 ppm and to limit temperature rise to 1.0 degrees centigrade, based on pre-industrial levels, noting that emissions must peak in 2015.

The Petition below expresses, in the strongest possible terms, your demand that the results of the Cochabamba People’s Accord, as presented to UNFCCC - AWG-LCA Chair Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe (Zimbabwe)and Vice-Chair Mr. Dan Reifsnyder (United States) in an April 26th submission by the Plurinational State of Bolivia, be given the highest possible consideration during the Twelfth Session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) in Bonn, June 1-June 11, 2010. As signers to the Petition, we have grave concern, that the ‘Note by the Chair’, officially known as ‘Text to facilitate negotiations among governmental Parties’ to the UN climate negotiations, released on May 17th, 2010, acknowledges the invitation for Nation-States to make submissions but then relegates the Bolivian submission to a miscellaneous document.

This is in direct contrast to the full integration of the Copenhagen Accord, a document which we as signers to the Petition would like to remind the Chair and Vice-Chairs, was not adopted by the delegates to COP-15, with the only agreement being to ‘take note of’ this non-binding, non-negotiated, document.

The Petition we are asking you to sign represents both people who were directly engaged in the development of these proposals in Cochabamba, where over 35,000 people from 140 countries gathered in April, 2010, as well as those who were there in spirit and support the outcomes; we also represent the voices of social movements, indigenous peoples, affected peoples and civil society organizations from around the world.

The deliberate exclusion of the full 87 articles of the Cochabamba People’s Agreement violates assurances that were given stating all representations by Nation-States would be treated equally, as well as direct statements by the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, made to social movement representatives in the presence of Evo Morales Ayma, President of Bolivia, on May, 7th, stating that there was no preference for one submission over others.

By signing the Petition, (see below) you would stand in solidarity with our Brothers and Sisters who are presently suffering from the consequences of climate change, with those as yet unborn who will suffer from our inaction, and with all living beings and Mother Earth; we therefore commit to remain vigilant in our pursuit of climate justice.

Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director, Indigenous Environmental Network
Read more and sign petition:

National Day of Action against SB 1070

TODAY: National Day of Action against SB1070

National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights Stands with Arizona for Justice & Human Rights!

TODAY: On May 29, the eyes of the world will be on Arizona when tens of thousands of members of Arizona’s communities, including Indigenous people, day laborers, unions, people of color, women, LGBTQ people, workers, youth, students and supporters from across the country, will converge on Phoenix for the National Day of Action against SB1070. SB1070 is the new Arizona anti-immigrant, racial profiling state law that allows police to question anyone about their immigration status, jail them and turn them over to ICE for deportation.

The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and its members will march with Arizona communities and in solidarity actions around the country on May 29 as we stand with the people of Arizona in the fight to restore rights and to rollback the hate.

On May 29 and beyond, the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR) calls on people from all walks of life to demand an end to SB1070 and all federal immigration-police collaboration. This is an important national moment to commit to ending all forms of racial discrimination and intolerance. We are heartened to see how so many different groups and sectors have rallied to oppose SB1070.

This broad support will very much be needed to push back against the continued expansion of federal immigration-police collaboration programs that enable state laws like SB1070 and other immigration and border enforcement measures that further endanger lives, perpetuate abuse and hate, undermining the health of communities.

Leading up to May 29 in Arizona the National Day Laborer Organizing Network with the Puente Movement are preparing a national boycott of Arizona, targeting companies and products whose owners have contributed funds that have allowed anti-immigrant laws, practices and policies to flourish. NDLON and Puente are also planning to launch a defiance campaign against SB1070 scheduled to be implemented later in July.

The Coalición de Derechos Humanos (DH) working with border and non-border communities will begin their fifth annual “Migrant Trail March”– a 75-mile journey from Sásabe, Sonora to Tucson, Arizona to express solidarity with the migrant women, children, elders and men who have walked this trail and lost their lives. DH’s work against the U.S. militarization of immigration control and border communities is a deep call for linking communities across the country to demilitarize the border and uphold the right to life, liberty and wellbeing of all persons.

Beyond May 29, NNIRR will continue to urge that the Obama Administration:

· Take all necessary steps to stop the implementation of SB1070. Obama must speak out against the climate of hate and investigate and punish Arizona state, county and local officials who are violating the civil rights of entire communities;
· Roll-back and end the 287(g), Secure Communities programs and all forms of federal immigration-police collaboration programs.
· Suspend all detentions and deportations and investigate the abuses being committed against immigrants at the border and in interior.
· Demilitarize immigration control and border communities and stop the deployment of National Guard troops. Instead, issue sufficient visas and options for families to reunite and live, work, worship, study and play with their rights protected. The federal government must invest in creating sustainable communities and promote fair trade economic policies that will provide stability and development;
· Seek in earnest socially just immigration reforms that provide full legalization based on upholding the civil and labor rights of all persons.

¡Todas y todos somos Arizona We are all Arizona! ________________________________________________
Arnoldo Garcia
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
Red Nacional Pro Derechos Inmigrantes y Refugiados
310 8th Street Suite 303
Oakland, CA 94607
Tel (510) 465-1984 ext. 305
Fax (510) 465-1885

Declaración de solidaridad con el pueblo de Arizona y l@s migrantes del mundo
29 de Mayo, 2010
La Via Campesina
La aprobación de la legislación SB-1070 en Arizona que criminaliza a las personas por el color de la piel, bajo el argumento del combate a la "inmigración ilegal" y por la "seguridad fronteriza", junto con el súbito anuncio de legislaciones similares en varios estados de los EEUU, y la creciente e incontenible violencia policiaca y para-policiaca en contra de las y los migrantes, revelan un peligroso avance de la ofensiva actual contra las migrantes y los migrantes y sus familias.
Este avance se da en momentos de una crisis profunda del sistema capitalista bajo el cual, los gobernantes han intentado pasar el costo de la crisis a las espaldas de las y los migrantes, al mismo tiempo que dividen a la clase trabajadora al convertirlos en los “chivos expiatorios” de la crisis.
Es así como Arizona y la frontera de los EEUU y México, se han convertido hoy en día en el epicentro de la agresión global en contra de las y los migrantes del mundo.
Además, igual que ocurre en Arizona, por todo el planeta siguen escalando las políticas y las acciones anti-migrantes, principalmente en los países del Norte que por cierto, son los culpables de la crisis de la migración generada por el sistema capitalista en esta fase neoliberal.
Por lo anterior, La Vía Campesina Internacional hace un llamado urgente a todas sus organizaciones y a todas y todos sus aliados a desplegar una solidaridad amplia y concreta con la lucha que hoy se da en Arizona para detener las políticas y las acciones en contra de las y los migrantes.
Hoy, el 29 de mayo del 2010, expresamos nuestra solidaridad con el pueblo de Arizona, que hoy se manifiesta en Phoenix, Arizona y las embajadas de EUN en Mexico, y otros países del mundo para exigir un alto a la SB-1070 y a todas las políticas y acciones anti-inmigrantes.
Así mismo, denunciamos a la discriminación, y la violencia anti-inmigrante, y demandamos los Derechos Plenos de las y los Migrantes del Mundo:
¡Globalicemos la lucha, globalicemos la esperanza!
Alberto Gómez Flores
Dena Hoff
Coordinación Internacional, La Via Campesina