August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Tar Sands Action: Native Americans to President Obama: Honor Your Word

Photo Shadia Fayne Wood Tar Sands Action
Native Americans to President Obama: Honor Your Word, Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline 
Photo Christine Irving Tar Sands Action
By Clayton Thomas Muller
Indigenous Environmental Network
Posted at Censored News
November 6, 2011
WASHINGTON -- Thousands of citizens from both the United States and Canada representing every background circled the White House today and joined hands to protest the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Recently the US State Department signaled that they would not be meeting their self imposed year-end deadline of 2011 to deny or approve the permit of the Transcanada pipeline. President Barack Obama took responsibility for the final decision from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earlier this week. This came on the heels of the President being confronted at almost every stop across America over the controversial decision. Most recently Vice President of the Oglala Lakota Nation Tom Poorbear confronted President Obama in Denver at a University of Colorado campaign speech.
The United States of America is obligated to honor the 1851 and 1868 Fort Laramie Treaties it made with the Lakota Nation and other indigenous nations. We are extremely concerned about the lack of consultation we have experienced in the dealings of the US State department on the Environmental Impact Review of the project. In his election, President Obama promised a new deal between Native America and the White House, saying no to the Keystone XL is a good place to start,” said Oglala Lakota Nation Vice President Tom Poorbear.
Oglala Lakota Nation grassroots activist Debra White Plume spoke at the rally, “Love for Unci Maka (Grandmother Earth) and our generations are the bedrock of my resistance to the Transcanada oil pipeline. I have come here to be part of this peaceful circle of people to shine a light on President Obama to be visionary and deny a corporate plan whose promise of destruction of our lands is certain. President Obama will be an Earth Warrior, standing in the way of something bad coming toward the people, or he will step aside for Transcanada to foul our water, land, and health for generations to come. It is a decision of global magnitude, all over Unci Maka, we will forever see if he is to shine in the light of love and life, or if he will disappear into the darkness of greed and deceit.”
Debra White Plume outside White House
Cree/M├ętis Tantoo Cardinal, one of Canada’s most recognized actors added, “It’s not simply poetic to say the earth is alive. I was raised in the Fort McMurray area, the heart of these current tar sands projects. We, all of us, are protectors of the land and water. If you were to see with your own eyes the incredible destruction of our ecosystem, I believe you’d understand that blind greed is destroying our land, water, and way of life. This is why President Obama has the moral imperative to say no to the Keystone XL Pipeline.”
President Obama stated that he would be receiving input from State Department officials for the next several months indicating that the final decision to deny or approve the permit will not be made until early 2012. US based Native Nations in solidarity with First Nations from Canada have sworn to stop the project.
Indigenous Environmental Network delegation
Photo by Clayton Thomas Muller
For More information or interviews contact: Clayton Thomas-Muller: Tar Sands Campaigner - Indigenous Environmental Network - cell (613) 297-7515 email:

Screen captures from Livestream outside the White House today by Censored news

Watch live today: Tar Sands: Thousands surround the White House

IEN delegation/Photo Clayton Thomas Muller
TAR SANDS ACTION! Watch live today as thousands surround the White House Today, Sunday
Nov. 6, 2:00 pm Eastern time
'NO!' to Keystone XL Pipeline
Tar Sands Action
Sierra Club

The Big Day: Let’s Go #Surround the White House

By Tar Sands Action
It’s time.
Bold Nebraska has arrived! Photo Tar Sands Action 
Thousands of people are waking up across the District of Columbia this morning and a preparing to head down to the White House to join hands with one another and stand up to the Keystone XL pipeline. It’s going to be an incredible event and a great step forward for this growing movement.

Last night, around 500 people packed into a church up in Columbia Heights for an evening of speeches, music, and (most importantly) planning for the weeks and months ahead. One thing is already clear from our time in DC: this pipeline has lit a spark amongst everyday folks across the country. Farmers in Texas are planning direct actions in case the pipeline is built, students in North Carolina and Ohio are preparing to make sure that their important electoral states swing “no” against Keystone XL, and more. As the evening continued, more and more buses of people showed up. And more are still coming in this morning.
It’s going to be very good day for the 99% of us who aren’t an executive at TransCanada.

Tahrir Gaza boat activists imprisoned in Israel

Ehab Lotayef

Canadians detained in Israel arriving home tomorrow
Nov. 7, 2011
Free Palestine Movement

Canadians detained in Israel arriving home tomorrow

Despite a threat from an Israeli judge that they could face 2 months in prison, Freedom Waves to Gaza activists David Heap and Ehab Lotayef are being released and deported back to Canada today. They will arrive on Thursday, November 10.


What: Heap and Lotayef will arrive in Toronto after 5 days in Israeli prison, following their abduction from international waters en route to Gaza to challenge Israel’s illegal blockade.

When: Scheduled flight arrival time is 6:40am, with likely disembarkation completed by 7:20, Thursday, November 10, 2011.

Where: Arrivals Gate, Pearson International Airport, Toronto


What: Heap and Lotayef will discuss their experiences on Freedom Waves to Gaza aboard the Canadian ship Tahrir and their time in Israeli prison.

When: 1pm, Thursday, November 10, 2011

Where: Charles Lynch Room, 130-S, Parliament Hill, Ottawa

The third Canadian who was aboard the Tahrir, Karen DeVito, has also been released and will be returning home to Vancouver next week. The remaining delegates from Ireland and Australia are also expected to arrive home by the end of the week, but the status of UK journalist Hassan Ghani is still unclear.

The reason why those who were detained undertook this journey in the first place was to show solidarity with the ordinary people of Gaza who have lost their basic freedoms as a result of a blockade imposed by the military forces of Israel, and to take action that would contribute to the end of that blockade.

Freedom Waves was never intended to focus attention on the 27 people aboard the MV Saoirse and the Tahrir, but on the 1.6 million people of Gaza – half of whom are children under the age of 16 – who continue to suffer collective punishment at the hands of the Israeli military. While Canadian and international citizens were languishing in prison in Israel for the “crime” of coming to their aid, the population of Gaza continues to languish in what is, in effect, the world’s largest open air prison.

This latest of eleven attempts to break the blockade of Gaza via the sea demonstrates once again that Israel is able to act with impunity when it comes to the welfare of the Palestinian people and anyone trying to help them. It is because of the continuing inaction of governments around the world, including the Canadian government, that ordinary people feel compelled to act.

Please help us continue our work.

Canadians face two months of incarceration in Israel without trial
Update Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011
Free Palestine Movement

Yesterday, Freedom Waves to Gaza activists detained in Israel - including Canadians David Heap and Ehab Lotayef - came before a judge and were told they could be held in prison for 2 months without charges or trial.

To avoid this, the judge told them, they must sign a statement that they entered Israel 'voluntarily' and 'illegally' despite being violently kidnapped from international waters and taken to Israel against their will while trying to reach Gaza. While a handful of Freedom Waves to Gaza participants have been deported – including Canadian Karen DeVito – 18 activists and journalists have now been in Israeli prison for 5 days with no end in sight. DeVito is available for interviews.

The Israeli military forcibly commandeered the boats Tahrir and MV Saoirse that journalists and activists were traveling on as part of the Freedom Waves initiative and brought them to Ashdod port in Israel.

American journalist Jihan Hafiz was on the Canadian boat Tahrir, and was among those detained by Israel despite her press credentials. Israeli authorities ordered her and others not to talk about "anything negative or political" during their brief phone calls to home from Israeli detention. This censorship explains why some details are only just coming out now. She reported Tuesday about her experience during the Israeli takeover of the Irish and Canadian boats:

"There were three warships [...] four Zodiacs, four water cannon boats, as well as four regular gunboats. All of the commandos on all of these boats were heavily armed. It looked like they were taking on an army of a foreign country."

She added: "Two water cannons started to pour lots of water into the Irish boat, which flooded it, blew their sockets, and cut off all the electricity. And so, at that point, the Irish delegates I spoke to said they told the Israeli army, "We're taking on water. We're sinking. We're going to go down at sea if you continue with the water."

Hafiz went on to describe the violent takeover during which guns were pointed at the heads of the boats' passengers, how they were roughed up, mistreated, strip-searched, and filmed naked. She also tells of how the journalists' equipment was confiscated, in a bid to silence any reporting that might contradict the sanitized Israeli account of what happened during the hijacking of the Tahrir and the MV Saoirse.

For the full video interview and transcript, click here

"Our friends have been assaulted, tasered, beaten, kidnapped, robbed, and imprisoned. Now Israel is threatening to illegally detain them for two months. What is it going to take for the Canadian government to actually do something about another country kidnapping Canadian citizens and refusing to let them go?" demands Wendy Goldsmith, an organizer with the Canadian Boat to Gaza.

"We are disappointed, but not surprised, by the inaction of Baird and Harper," said Canadian Boat to Gaza organizer Dylan Penner. "In its failure to speak out against Israel's blockade of Gaza, the Canadian Government is condoning Israel's disregard for the human rights of the citizens of Gaza and giving it impunity for its refusal to comply with its international obligations. It is this silence that compels citizens of good conscience, like David and Ehab, to act where our Government has so consistently failed to do so."

Organizers of the Canadian Boat to Gaza are demanding Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird step down for failing to do his job to stand up for the interests of Canadians.

Please help us continue our work.

I write to you from cell 9 of the Apartheid State of Israel

Canadian activist and professor David Heap aboard the
Tahrir before imprisonment in Israel
by David Heap
Censored News
Nov. 6, 2011
Dear sisters and brothers, friends and loved ones,

I write to you from cell 9, block 59 Givon Prison near Ramla in Occupied Palestine. Although I was tasered during the assault on the Tahrir, and bruised during forcible removal dockside (I am limping slightly as a result) I am basically ok. We, Ehab, Michael, Karen from Tahrir, as well as Karen, Kit (US) and Jihan who we saw briefly this morning. We are most concerned about our Tahrir shipmate, Palestinian Majd Kayyal from Haifa, last seen by us at Ashdod being photographed and put in a police car.*

Although Michael and I (among others) were transported in handcuffs and leg shackles, let me stress that we are neither criminals nor illegal immigrants but rather political prisoners of the apartheid state of Israel. Four from the Tahrir are imprisoned with 12 Irish comrades from the Saoirse, who have more experience with such issues. The four of us, Ehab and I (Cdn), Michael (Aus) and Hassan (UK) have joined with the Irish in their political prisoners' committee in order to press our collective demands:
association in the block - i.e. open cells
adequate writing and reading material
free communication with outside world - i.e. regular phone calls
information about shipmate women held at same prison

We add one Tahrir-specific demand: that Israeli state recognize the professional status of Democracy Now journalist Jihan Hafiz in accordance with her credentials from the US government. All political incarceration is unjust but let me stress that in duration and conditions, our situation pales in comparison to the plight of thousands of Palestinian political prisoners and to the open air prison of Gaza.

If you have energy to devote to solidarity actions in the coming days, please concentrate on them. We must get Tahrir back and hope Freedom Waves continue.

Free Majd Kayyal! Free all political prisoners! Free Gaza! Free Palestine!

Anishnabe-debuewin, restons humaine, stay human, in love and struggle,

David Heap of London, Ontario

* Majd Kayyal was released, but it appears the other political prisoners weren't told where he was taken.

Freedom Waves journalists held in Israeli prison

It seems that at least one of Kit and Jihan, and probably both, is still in Israeli detention. This AFP story was filed minutes ago. My understanding is that among the journalists, Jihan and Hassan refused to sign the deportation order.

A group of 21 activists who tried to sail to Gaza in breach of an Israeli blockade of the territory remain in Israeli custody, pending legal proceedings, the interior ministry said on Sunday.

"There are 21 passengers detained who refused to be expelled immediately and are engaged in proceedings against their deportation before an Israeli judge," interior ministry spokeswoman Sabine Haddad told AFP.

"Only after these proceedings are complete... can they be deported," she said. The 21 activists were among 27 passengers and crew aboard two ships intercepted by the Israeli navy as they tried to run the blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli commandos boarded the Irish-flagged Saoirse (Freedom) and the Canadian ship Tahrir (Liberation) in international waters off Gaza on Friday before the navy escorted them to the port of Ashdod, the Israeli military said.

On Saturday, Israel freed six of the passengers -- an Arab-Israeli, two Greek crewmen, and three journalists from Egypt, Spain and the United States.

She said the remaining 21 people were still being held at a detention facility in Ramla near Tel Aviv, after questioning by immigration authorities.

Those still in Israeli detention are from Australia, Britain, Canada, Ireland and the United States.

The attempt to sail to Gaza was the latest in a string of activist missions aimed at breaching Israel's blockade of the territory.

In May 2010, six ships led by the Turkish Mavi Marmara tried to reach the coastal strip, but were intercepted by Israeli commandos, who stormed the boats, killing nine Turkish activists and sparking a diplomatic crisis with Ankara.

Earlier this year, a second flotilla tried to reach Gaza, but several ships were sabotaged -- which activists blamed on Israel -- and the one boat that made the sailing was intercepted before it could reach Gaza.

Israel says its blockade is necessary to prevent weapons from entering the coastal territory, which is run by the Islamist Hamas movement. Two months ago, a UN report on the 2010 flotilla raid accused the Jewish state of acting with "excessive force" but found that its naval blockade of Gaza was legal.

Robert Naiman
Policy Director
Just Foreign Policy

Please help us continue our work.

Latest update on the Freedom Waves to Gaza Boats November 6, 2011

The take over of the Tahrir and the Saoirse was violent and dangerous. Despite very clear protests from the occupants of the two boats that they did not want to be taken to Israel, they were forcibly removed from the boats in a violent manner. The whole take over took about 3 hours. Many of those on the Canadian boat were beaten.

It began with Israeli forces hosing down the boats with high pressure hoses and pointing guns at the passengers through the windows. Fintan Lane, on the Saoirse, was hosed down the stairs of the boat. Windows where smashed and the bridge of that boat nearly caught fire. The boats were corralled to such an extent that the two boats, the Saoirse and the Tahrir collided with each and were damaged, with most of the damage happening to the MV Saoirse.  The boats nearly sunk, the method used in the take over was very dangerous.

The Israeli forces initially wanted to leave the boats at sea but the abductees demanded that they not be left to float unmanned at sea, for they would have been lost and possibly sunk. David Heap, a Canadian delegate, was tasered and beaten.  All belongings of the passengers were taken off them and crew and they still do not know if and what they will get back.  6 prisoners were released-both of the Greek Captains, 2 of the journalists and 2 delegates. The passengers remain in Givon detention center and many, including Kit Kittredge of the U.S., have not been able to make phone calls.

Those remaining are being asked to sign deportation papers which state that they came into Israel illegally and that they will not attempt another effort to break the Gaza blockade. If they sign they will not be allowed into Palestine, through Israel, for 10 years.  Obviously their goal was to go to Gaza not Israel, and a signature could validate Israel's right to blockade Gaza, so they refuse to sign.  This will mean longer detention. Their continued detention is designed to force them to agree to abandon their legal rights and has nothing to do with the security of Israeli civilians - just like the blockade of Gaza's civilians is clearly punitive and has nothing to do with the security of Israeli civilians

Our State Department has not been an advocate for its citizens. They would rather join Israel in stating that we are terrorists. Obama on Thursday said the passengers on these boats are defying Israeli and American law. He must have been confused. It's the other way around.   State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the U.S. was renewing its call to Americans "not to involve themselves in this activity," and warned of possible consequences.


U.S. Emergency Consular Services  202-647-4000
and the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv  011-972-3-519-7575

Tell them you want them to insist Israel free the prisoners immediately and end its siege of Gaza.  

Just a few phone calls can make a difference.  

Thanks for all you do.

Jane Hirschmann and Felice Gelman


Please distribute this press release:

For Immediate Release:
November 6, 2011
Contact: Felice Gelman 917-912-2597

Passengers on boats to Gaza beaten, denied visits by lawyers and access to families;
misled by U.S. consular authorities

Although Freedom Waves to Gaza organizers have not yet had direct communication with the people taken into custody by Israeli armed forces as they tried to peacefully sail to Gaza last week, information is emerging that Israeli armed forces tactics in confronting the non-violent activists have been violent and dangerous.  This despite claims from the IDF spokesperson that "every precaution will be taken for the safety of the activists." 

Prisoners include U.S. citizen Kit Kittredge, a delegate on the Tahrir from Quilcene, WA, and Jihan Hafiz, a U.S. citizen and journalist from Democracy Now, the national news program.  Both have been advised by the U.S. consul in Israel to sign an Israeli deportation agreement.  Both have refused because the statement says they came into Israel illegally and will not attempt another effort to break the Gaza blockade. Both statements are untrue.

A letter from Canadian David Heap, smuggled from the Givon prison, states that he was tasered and beaten when the Israeli Navy attacked the Tahrir.  Irish prisoner, Fintan Lane, in a telephone call from Givon prison, reported that the takeover of the Saoirse was also violent.  The Tahrir and the Saoirse were forced by Israeli warships to crash into each other, crippling both ships. 

Palestinian Israeli Mad Kayal, a delegate aboard the Tahrir, who was arrested and released confirms these reports. "As a Palestinian, I was not surprised at how the IDF treated us," said Kayal, after his release, noting this kind of abuse is a daily reality for the 1.5 million people of Gaza, who are indefinitely detained in an open-air prison. "However, for the Canadians and other Westerners onboard, it was a complete shock."

"Israeli brutality and the unnecessary use of force against non-violent protests are well documented. What has happened to the passengers on the Tahrir and the Saoirse is just a tiny fraction of the daily abuse directed at Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank as part of Israel's occupation policy," said U.S. coordinator Jane Hirschmann.  "Nonetheless, all people - Palestinians under occupation and peace activists kidnapped and imprisoned - have human rights under international law that civilized governments must respect.  The purpose of the boats' voyage to Gaza was to demonstrate that Israel continually violates those laws, and that the U.S. government cares more about Israel than about its own citizens."




Also see: Reporters without Borders condemns arrest of five journalists on two Gaza-bound boats:

Tar Sands Action: Native Americans among 10,000 to surround White House today

10,000 to surround White House to protest Keystone XL pipeline today
Censored News
Photo Christine Irving/White House Nov. 6, 2011
Clayton Thomas Muller, Cree, Debra White Plume, Lakota, Tantoo Cardinal, Cree, and other Native Americans join Naomi Klein, Mark Ruffalo, Bill McKibben, Nobel Prize and Medal of Freedom recipients, and top environmental leaders to lead demonstration

This article has been updated on Censored News:

Photo Shadia Fayne Wood. Native delegation Nov. 6 at White House.

WASHINGTON – The battle over the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline will reach a decisive moment today  when nearly 10,000 people are expected to join hands around the White House and show President Obama he has the support he needs to stand up to Big Oil and stop the pipeline.

This week, President Obama took full ownership over what has become the most important environmental question facing him before the 2012 election: whether or not to grant the necessary permit for a 1,700 mile pipeline which would carry toxic tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
Lakotas: NO to TarsandsDebra White Plume, Lakota from Pine Ridge, S.D., sent a strong message to Obama and TransCanada to halt the Keystone XL pipeline that threatens the Ogallala Aquifer and water supplies in the heartland and Indian country.

"Oglala Lakota say, 'Stay away from our water!" White Plume said, pointing out the resolution of the Oglala Sioux Executive Committee. It demands that the US "immediately cease and desist any negotiations and plans to construct the Keystone XL Pipiline Across the Mni Wiconi Water Pipeline easement."

White Plume encouraged events throughout North America, including the gathering in the San Francisco Bay Area in Oakland on Sunday to oppose the Tar Sands. "I will be standing in solidarity with all of you in Washington DC with thousands of others as we surround the White House to let Obama know we don't want him to approve this disaster! Stand with us."

The Sierra Club plans live web coverage at 2 pm Eastern:
The White House Today
Who: Nearly 10,000 people and top environmental leaders and celebrities, including actor Mark Ruffalo, activist Bill McKibben, Sierra Club executive director Mike Brune, Medal of Freedom recipient and NRDC founder John Adams, Nobel Prize recipient Jody Williams, and more.
Where: Lafayette Square Park across from the White House
When: Spokespeople will be available for interviews between 1:00 – 2:00 pm, opening rally begins at 2:00 pm, crowd will encircle the White House from 3:00 – 4:30 pm, closing rally begins at 5:00 pm.
Why: President Obama is currently considering whether or not to grant a “presidential permit” for the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The project requires the special permit because it crosses an international border with Canada. The Keystone XL would carry tar sands oil, the dirtiest fuel on the planet, over 1,700 miles across America’s heartland, risking a BP-style oil spill over one of our largest sources of fresh drinking water. America’s top climate scientist says that fully exploiting the tar sands could mean “essentially game over for the climate.” This August, 1,253 people were arrested during a sit-in at the White House protesting the pipeline.
DC Contacts:
Jamie Henn, 415-601-9337,
Daniel Kessler, 510-501-1779,

San Francisco Bay Protest
Wish you could be in DC this Sunday to encircle the White House?
You can still be part of the movement here in the Bay Area!
Sunday, November 6 · 1:00pm - 2:00pm

Meet on front steps of Oakland City Hall (off 12th St. BART station) at 1:00pm. March to OFA office (1714 Telegraph) at 1:15pm.
Oakland, CA

On Sunday, November 6, join our friends at Bay Area to converge at the Obama for America Office in Oakland and show solidarity with Tar Sands Action in Washington, DC. Along with simultaneous rallies taking place in Seattle, Los Angeles, and more, the Bay Area will demonstrate that the West Coast stands with our friends encircling the White House! We can't all be in DC this Sunday, but we can all stand up where we are and tell President Obama that Americans across the country say NO! to the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Please click on the "Select Guests to Invite" button on the left and spread the word to all your Bay Area contacts! Our goal is to encircle the entire OFA building. See you Sunday!

For more information about Tar Sands Action:
For more information about

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