Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

June 4, 2011

Wikileaks: Top six ways the US and Canada violated Indigenous rights

Wikileaks reveals how the US and Canada worked globally to systematically violate Indigenous rights 

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

Here's the top six ways that the United States and Canada, as revealed by Wikileaks, has worked against the rights of Indigenous Peoples, by engaging in espionage and the promotion of mining, while violating Indigenous autonomy, self determination and dignity.
1. The United States worked behind the scenes to fight the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In Ecuador, the US established a program to dissuade Ecuador from supporting the Declaration. In Iceland, the US Embassy said Iceland's support was an "impediment" to US/Iceland relations at the UN. In Canada, the US said the US and Canada agreed the Declaration was headed for a "train wreck."
2. The United States targeted and tracked Indigenous Peoples, community activists and leaders, especially in Chile, Peru and Ecuador. A cable reveals the US Embassy in Lima, Peru, identified Indigenous activists and tracked the involvement of Bolivian President Evo Morales, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Bolivia Ambassador Pablo Solon, prominent Mapuche and Quechua activists and community leaders. President Chavez and President Morales were consistently watched, and their actions analyzed. Indigenous activists opposing the dirty Tar Sands were spied on, and other Indigenous activists in Vancouver, prior to the Olympics.
3. The United States was part of a five country coalition to promote mining and fight against Indigenous activists in Peru. A core group of diplomats from U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, Switzerland and South Africa formed an alliance with mining companies to promote and protect mining interests globally. In other illegal corporate profiteering, Peru’s government secretly admitted that 70-90 percent of its mahogany exports were illegally felled, according to a US embassy cable revealed by Wikileaks. Lowe's and Home Depot sell the lumber.

4. Canada spied on Mohawks using illegal wiretaps. Before Wikileaks hit the headlines, it exposed in 2010 that Canada used unauthorized wiretaps on Mohawks.
Wikileaks: "During the preliminary inquiry to Shawn Brant's trial, it came out that the Ontario Provincial Police, headed by Commissioner Julian Fantino, had been using wiretaps on more than a dozen different Mohawks without a judge's authorization, an action almost unheard of recent history in Canada."
4. The United States and Canada tracked Mohawks. In one of the largest collections of cables released so far that targeted Native people and named names, the US Consulates in Montreal and Toronto detailed Mohawk activities at the border and in their communities.
5. The arrogant and insulting tone of the US Embassies and disrespect for Indigenous leaders is pervasive in US diplomatic cables. The US Embassy in Guatemala stated that President of Guatemala, Álvaro Colom, called Rigoberta Menchu a "fabrication" of an anthropologist and made other accusations. Menchu responded on a local radio station that Colom was a "liar."
6. The collection of DNA and other data, makes it clear that US Ambassadors are spies abroad. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton states that the Intelligence Community relies on biographical information from US diplomats. In cables to Africa and Paraguay, Clinton asked US Embassy personnel to collect address books, e-mail passwords, fingerprints, iris scans and DNA.
“The intelligence community relies on State reporting officers for much of the biographical information collected worldwide," Clinton said in a cable on April 16, 2009. Clinton said the biographical data should be sent to the INR (Bureau of Intelligence and Research) for dissemination to the Intelligence Community.
The cables, the aftermath
As for reactions, Mohawks are unimpressed with the cables and have little to say about either the content or the arrogant tone of the US Embassy.
John Kane, Mohawk host of the radio show Let's Talk Native Pride, said, "I think one of the reasons you haven't got much response from this is just as you have suggested; it's no surprise. While some would be outraged to be treated this way or spoken of in such terms, we know what we are up against. We also know that 9-11 was an opportunity for both the US and Canada to put Native resistance on par with terrorism. No Department of Homeland Security or PATRIOT Act or Canadian Border Service or joint task force of US and Canadian alphabet soup will change the disposition of Mohawk Warriors."
The US and Canada have tried to play word games to make people believe the two countries have now supported the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
When the United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, four countries voted against it: the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Although the four countries eventually took action on it, the US and Canada gave only lip service and included language in an attempt to prevent the Declaration from being used in federal courts to ensure rights, including the right of free, prior and informed consent and the right to ancestral territories.
Indigenous rights were the focus as tens of thousands of Indigenous Peoples and grassroots people met in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and then Cancun, Mexico, to establish new climate standards for the protection of Mother Earth in 2010. Globally, efforts have increased to expose the scam of carbon credits, protect water rights and to protect forests, rivers and oceans.
Wikileaks exposure of the race for Arctic oil by numerous countries, has led to new efforts to protect the homeland of the Inuit.
During the last week of May 2011, the American Indian Movement was in Venezuela to support President Hugo Chavez. AIM thanked CITGO for heating assistance for poor families, as the US imposed new economic sanctions on Venezuela. Anishinabe First Nation Chief Terrance Nelson released a statement questioning if the US is targeting Chavez as its next "bogeyman."
Chief Nelson also said that for Native people in the US and Canada, economic sanctions from the colonial governments are nothing new.
"As indigenous peoples in North America, our experience with the colonial governments has been continuous undeclared economic sanctions enacted against our people," Chief Nelson said.

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