August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Tucson Schools Flagrantly violate Constitution and International Human Rights Treaties

Photo: Fernanda Echavarri Arizona Public Media

TUSD flagrantly violates Constitution and International Human Rights Treaties

By Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez, PhD
Censored News

"Instead of seeing Hispanics as outsiders who do not belong here, we need to start seeing them as ancestors of the original inhabitants of these lands. They are the living fulfillment of the Ghost Dance prophecy." - Chief Billy Redwing Tayac, Piscataway Nation
The above quote best contextualizes the battle in Tucson. Mexican American Studies, also known as Chicano/a Studies or Raza Studies, in effect, is the study of peoples who trace their lineage to this very continent, many thousands of years before the arrival of Columbus. There is no doubt that these peoples have mixture (like virtually every human being on this planet), however, the fact remains that their roots are Indigenous and part of daily, living maiz-based cultures. A primary objective of MAS has always been the recovery of those cultural roots that in the past have been denied. In Tucson, the teaching of these studies, of these roots have not just been outlawed, but, in effect, criminalized.
While TUSD continues to be under court orders to desegregate, and while the state is being sued (Acosta) in federal court over the 2010 anti-ethnic studies HB 2281 bill, both TUSD and the state are seemingly unaware that in passing and complying with HB 2281, they are in clear violation of at least 9 international treaties and conventions. These include the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights and the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, all of which protect the right to culture, history, identity, language and education.
Below is a document containing 9 directives that is mind-boggling in its brazenness, one that reveals the manner in which the law is being flouted and how teachers and students are being subjected to abuse and repurcussions.
In close to 40 years of journalism and column writing, I have never seen anything quite like it. Initially, I picked this document up from one source, then several. It is undeniably authentic. This document was issued in mid-January by TUSD officials, given to MAS educators, instructing them as to what they can and can't teach and how, etc. The first thing I noted was that it was not on TUSD stationary. This is referred to as: "plausible denial." It intentionally leaves no fingerprints. To be sure, there have been other [verbal] directives regarding these same issues.
The context behind this document is that the MAS Department has been dismantled, the discipline thrashed and the curriculum banned (along with books, videos art, posters and other teaching materials). On top of this, the teachers and students have been demonized, and slandered. All this is due to HB 2281 – which as a community, we will never recognize as a law. The TUSD governing board, under the direction of the TUSD superintendent, rather than fight the unconstitutional HB 2281, buckled and ordered its suspension, and with it, ordered all MAS teaching materials out of the classrooms.
This issue is even more insidious than appears on paper. It is the result of a ferocious war against MAS and it is not an exaggeration to say that this is part of a 520-year battle. Or as former state schools' superintendent, Tom Horne, the author of the anti-Ethnic Studies bill refers to it, a civilizational war. His primary objection has always beenis that the MAS curriculum does not derive from Greco-Roman thought, and thus, un-American. He is right on the first count; the philosophical foundation of MAS is derived from the concepts of In Lak Ech (You are other my self) and Panche Be (To seek the root of the truth). The concepts are derived from a maiz- based philosophy, undeniably Indigenous to this continent, in origin./
It is precisely because of Horne's language that it is wrong to refer to his or his successor's actions (John Huppenthal), as McCarthy-esque or Nazi-esque. Instead, Horne provides the correct model… precisely stemming from the era of the Inquisition… it is a virtual "auto de fe" (a 1500's era religious edict authorizing the destruction of native culture, including books, etc)… It is also part of the 300-year program referred to as a "reduccion" in which the objective was to stamp out all things Indigenous. Below is the document and the dissection of each directive:
Guiding Principles for MAS Teachers
"Assignments cannot direct students to apply MAS perspectives."
The obvious problem here is that there is no consensus exists as to what constitutes a "Mexican American Studies" perspective, though it is clear that this is an attempt to eliminate the perspectives of a people. This directive alone appears to violate every international human rights treaty.
TUSD and the state have created a task for themselves; to enforce this directive, they will have to create a definition as to what constitutes a Mexican American [Studies] perspective. They then have to establish parameters of what can and cannot be taught and then they have to create an enforcement mechanism. Actually, this document appears to be the beginning of this process. One teacher, Norma Gonzalez, was specifically told after the TUSD vote, that she cannot teach the Aztec Calendar or anything related to Mexican culture and history. Ironically, the Aztec Calendar and its related philosophies, can and is being taught in a native class, but not through MAS. Here, TUSD is showing evidence that it is also involved in defining the boundaries of what is Mexican vs. what is native. A quote in The Progressive, from banned author Sherman Alexie is appropriate here: "Let's get one thing out of the way: Mexican immigration is an oxymoron. Mexicans are indigenous." One of his books, "The Lone Ranger and Tonto's Fist Fight in Heaven," is part of the MAS banned curriculum.
"The teachers cannot use the MAS curriculum designed individually or by MAS staff in TUSD."
Here, both the highly successful curriculum, which graduated nearly 100% of its students and validated by the 2010 independent Cambium Study, appears to have been invalidated by TUSD. Additionally, the teachers and staff have been determined to be incompetent. In the process, they have also been publically vilified and demonized.
"The focus of student learning must not exclusively trail back to MAS curriculum and issues." This is mind-boggling; no teacher teaches in such a manner. Beyond thought control, it appears to be an attempt to culturally restrict the parameters of Mexican American thinking – an attempt to by edict, to determine what Mexican Americans should be concerned with. An examination of the MAS curriculum will reveal that virtually every issue in the nation and world is an "MAS issue." "Teachers should balance the use of literature focusing on multiple perspectives and varied literature."
Here is an example of a directive in search of a problem. The MAS- TUSD Department is the epitome of a program that offered multiple perspectives. Witness the banned-books reading list, with authors from every culture represented. But also unstated is the notion that all perspectives are equal, even when it comes to issues such as land theft, etc. Utilizing such logic, would teachers have to provide arguments in favor of slavery, genocide and land theft and in favor of segregation and discrimination?
"Race can be taught and discussed. However, context is important and the focus should be on using literature content as the teachingfocus relative to race or oppression."
This is both oxymoronic and nonsensical. This smacks of "false generosity" – of giving teachers permission the right to teach about one of the most salient aspects of U.S. history. Regarding context, that at best is condescending; unlike letters to the editor, every teacher provides context.
"Visitations in class by an administrator will be frequent to insure compliance. (At least one visit per unit of lessons)."
Not sure that this merits an explanation. What's next… cameras in the classroom? And to be truthful, this was already proposed by Tom Horne two years ago.
"Teachers will write and submit a syllabus and/or a curriculum map that demonstrates adherence to common, standards based approach to the curriculum." Perhaps this is the least controversial, though this still smacks of micromanagement.
"Student work will be collected by the evaluator when he/she comes into the classroom."
This is the epitome of Big Brother in the classroom. That teachers and students are being closely monitored should raise two huge red flags. That teachers can be disciplined or fired depending on the thoughts/perspectives of their students should send a chill up everyone's spine.
"Teachers can choose to submit student work that would serve as evidence that curriculum is adhered to." See the above response, which in effect also encourages self-censorship.
These directives are on paper. They are actually even more onerous in the schools. The teachers of MAS-TUSD are my colleagues. I have been collaborating with them even before since the inception of the department in 1998, via shared curriculum. Without betraying privacy, I can reveal that "repression" (can I use that word?) in the classroom is not an exaggeration, nor is it hyperbole. I have spoken (I continually do so) to the teachers and have asked them about the environment they are now teaching in. In tears, they have relayed how they are being monitored and restricted. Aside from what has already been relayed here, several have told me in tears about their computers being wiped clean, which included many years of my columns. They have told me about artwork and posters being removed and about TUSD officials coming into their classrooms during class to remove teaching materials. One told me that the books that were ordered boxed were labeled "banned books" by school officials. Yet, through all this, TUSD claims there are no banned books.
I teach their former students at the University of Arizona. They are unquestionably my brightest students. For years I have spoken in their classrooms and we present together at conferences, at forums… and we even run together. So for me, this is personal and hits close to home. Unfortunately, this is not the end of this story. The one good news to report is that when students from Wakefield Middle School were suspended (along with one Pueblo High School student), they attended my classes at the University: The History of the Chicano Movement and Indigenous Thinkers/Indigenous Philosophers. They also held a teach-in that day. At the end of my second class, they were informed that their suspensions had been lifted. The MAS department, however, remains suspended and many of the books are being held hostage in the district's school depository building. "The knowledge," as the students say, "cannot be padlocked."
* Five of my books and a video are on the banned curriculum list. The video is: Amoxtli San Ce Tojuan. The books are: Justice: A Question of Race; Gonzales/Rodriguez: Uncut and Uncensored; The X in La Raza, Codex Tamuanchan: On Becoming Human… and Cantos Al Sexto Sol… this last book is a collection of more than 100 Raza/Indigenous writers, writing on the topic of origins and migrations, … In effect, virtually the entire cultural production of the past generation of Raza/Indigenous writers/artists has been criminalized.
** You can see the actual document, and the list of many of the banned books at:
Rodriguez can be reached at: or 520-626-0824

Thanks & Sincerely
Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez
PO BOX 3812
Tucson, AZ 85722


Cintli don't tweet, text, facebook and is not linked... neither do I own a TV... but you can still email or call me.

VIDEO: Lakota Media Project

'Gasland' The Dangerous Truth

'Gasland' Film Director Arrested at US Capitol Hearing

Republicans Bar Filming of Fracking Hearing

- Common Dreams staff
Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Josh Fox was handcuffed and led away Wednesday while attempting to film a House Science Committee hearing on fracking .
The "Gasland"  director was attempting to film the hearing which is looking into the EPA's investigation of water contamination from fracking in Pavillion, Wyoming. Josh was filming the hearing for his upcoming film "Gasland 2."
Subcommittee chairman US Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) objected to the presence of Mr. Fox and his crew as well as another crew from ABC.
“This is a public hearing!” Josh shouted as he was led away. “I’m being denied my First Amendment rights.”
Approximately 16 Capitol Hill police officers entered the hearing room and handcuffed Josh amid audible discussions of "disorderly conduct" charges, according to Democratic sources who spoke to the Huffington Post.
The filmmaker did not have "proper credentials", and an ABC News crew did not make the committee aware that they would be filming, according to  the Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill.
I was arrested today for exercising my First Amendment rights to freedom of the press on Capitol Hill. I was not expecting to be arrested for practicing journalism. Today's hearing in the House Energy and Environment subcommittee was called to examine EPAs findings that hydraulic fracturing fluids had contaminated groundwater in the town of Pavillion, Wyoming. I have a long history with the town of Pavillion and its residents who have maintained since 2008 that fracking has contaminated their water supply. I featured the stories of residents John Fenton, Louis Meeks and Jeff Locker in GASLAND and I have continued to document the catastrophic water contamination in Pavillion for the upcoming sequel GASLAND 2. It would seem that the Republican leadership was using this hearing to attack the three year Region 8 EPA investigation involving hundreds of samples and extensive water testing which ruled that Pavillion's groundwater was a health hazard, contaminated by benzene at 50x the safe level and numerous other contaminants associated with gas drilling. Most importantly, EPA stated in this case that fracking was the likely cause.
As a filmmaker and journalist I have covered hundreds of public hearings, including Congressional hearings. It is my understanding that public speech is allowed to be filmed. Congress should be no exception. No one on Capitol Hill should regard themselves exempt from the Constitution. The First Amendment to the Constitution states explicitly "Congress shall make no law...that infringes on the Freedom of the Press". Which means that no subcommittee rule or regulation should prohibit a respectful journalist or citizen from recording a public hearing.
This was an act of civil disobedience -- yes done in an impromptu fashion -- but at the moment when they told me to turn off the cameras, I could not. I know my rights and I felt it was imperative to exercise them.
When I was led out of the hearing room in handcuffs, John Boehner's pledge of transparency in Congress was taken out with me.
The people of Pavillion deserve better. The thousands across the US who have documented cases of water contamination in fracking areas deserve their own hearing on Capitol hill. They deserve the chance to testify in before Congress. The truth that fracking contaminates groundwater is out, and no amount of intimidation tactics --either outright challenges to science or the arrest of journalists --will put the genie back in the bottle. Such a brazen attempt to discredit and silence the EPA, the citizens of Pavillion and documentary filmmaking will ultimately fail and it is an affront to the health and integrity of Americans.
Lastly, in defense of my profession, I will state that many, many Americans get their news from independent documentaries. The Hill should immediately move to make hearings and meetings accessible to independent journalists and not further obstruct the truth from being reported in the vivid and in-depth manner that is only achievable through long-form documentary filmmaking.
I will be thinking on this event further and will post further thoughts and developments.
I have been charged with "unlawful entry" and my court date is February 15.
Josh Fox
Washington D.C.

ACLU Sues US for Information on Targeted Killing Program


ACLU Sues U.S. for Information
 on Targeted Killing Program

Posted at Censored News
Today we filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act to demand that the government release basic — and accurate — information about the government’s targeted killing program.
Our government’s deliberate and premeditated killing of American terrorism suspects raises profound questions that ought to be the subject of public debate. Unfortunately the Obama administration has released very little information about the practice — its official position is that the targeted killing program is a state secret — and some of the information it has released has been misleading.
Our suit overlaps with the one recently filed by The New York Times insofar as it seeks the legal memos on which the targeted killing program is based. But our suit is broader. We’re seeking, in addition to the legal memos, the government’s evidentiary basis for strikes that killed three Americans in Yemen in the fall of 2011. We’re also seeking information about the process by which the administration adds Americans to secret government “kill lists.” We think it’s crucial that the administration release the legal memos, but we don’t think the memos alone will allow the public to evaluate the lawfulness and wisdom of the program.
We know something about the fall 2011 strikes from media reports. On September 30, the CIA and the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) jointly carried out the targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen born in New Mexico, using missiles fired from unmanned drones in Yemen. A second U.S. citizen, Samir Khan, was killed in the same attack. Two weeks later, Anwar al-Awlaki’s son, Abdulrahman, a 16-year-old U.S. citizen born in Colorado, was killed in another U.S. drone strike elsewhere in Yemen. The administration has not adequately explained the legal basis for these strikes, and it has not explained the factual basis, either.
Soon after the fall 2011 strikes, we submitted a FOIA request to the CIA, Department of Defense, and Department of Justice (DOJ). Three months later, we have yet to receive a single document in response. Outrageously, the CIA and the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel responded by refusing to confirm or deny the existence or nonexistence of records responsive to our request. Essentially, these agencies are saying the targeted killing program is so secret that they can’t even acknowledge that it exists.
This response is incredible, in the original sense of that word—it simply lacks credibility. The press has reported since early 2010 that Anwar al-Awlaki had been placed on “kill lists” maintained by the CIA and JSOC, and articles have discussed in detail the secret process by which he was placed there. After the killings of the three U.S. citizens last fall, newspapers reported extensive details about the strikes, including how the CIA and JSOC coordinated and the number of drones involved. The Times described a “secret” OLC memo that lays out the Administration’s legal justifications for placing al-Awlaki on the kill lists and killing him. Much of the reporting was based on statements by government officials, albeit officials who were unwilling to be quoted for attribution.
Some officials, including President Obama, have spoken on the record about the program. They have publicly claimed responsibility for killing al-Awlaki, and they have more generally defended the government’s right to kill citizens after a secret non-judicial process. Just last week, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta acknowledged on 60 Minutes that the U.S. can and does carry out targeted killings of U.S. citizens subject to the recommendations of the CIA Director and the Secretary of Defense and pursuant to the President’s authorization. And this week, President Obama publicly defended the CIA targeted killing program in alive internet interview [starts at minute 26:30].
The government’s self-serving attitude toward transparency and disclosure is unacceptable. Officials cannot be allowed to release bits of information about the targeted killing program when they think it will bolster their position, but refuse even to confirm the existence of a targeted killing program when organizations like the ACLU or journalists file FOIA requests in the service of real transparency and accountability. One news report indicates that the Obama administration may be planning to release more information about the targeted killing program. Let’s hope that’s true. The public has a right to know the evidence and legal basis for the deliberate targeted killing of U.S. citizens. So chilling a power must be opened to public scrutiny and debate.
Learn more about targeted killings: Sign up for breaking news alerts, 

VIDEO: Indigenous Day of Resistance

From Quanah Parker Brightman at United Native Americans, Inc.

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