Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

May 15, 2019

Militarization at Standing Rock and Border: Native Women Testifying at Hearing Targeted by U.S.

Ofelia Rivas with Govinda Dalton Sunday. Photo Brenda Norrell.

Native American Women Testifying in Jamaica Targeted by U.S. during Re-Entry into United States

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
May 12, 2019
French translation by Christine Prat

TUCSON -- The militarization at Standing Rock was no different than the militarization at the border on Tohono O'odham  Nation land.
"They want to try and treat us like we are not human beings," Ofelia Rivas, Tohono O'odham, said on Sunday afternoon.

Rivas, returning from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights hearing in Jamaica, described the harassment and profiling she received after testifying.
After the hearing in Jamaica on Friday, Rivas was targeted and delayed for two days, after an "SSSS" label was placed on her ticket in Jamaica.
Tagged for constant searches, delays, and harassment in Jamaica, Miami and Dallas, Rivas said it is the same profiling, targeting and mistreatment she and other O'odham receive on a daily basis at the U.S. Mexico border in their homeland.
The extreme abuse caused her and another Native woman who testified in Jamaica, to miss their flights.
The journey back to Arizona from Jamaica, which should have taken hours in flying time, took two days.
Rivas was tagged with "SSSS" on her ticket, a tactic by the United States government that is becoming common place for Indigenous human rights activists.
Beyond Tucson, Rivas has to endure the U.S. security checkpoints. Often there are more delays, especially for Rivas and others who speak O'odham. They are often placed in secondary screening by U.S. Border Patrol agents.
During an interview with Govinda Dalton at Earthcycles on Sunday afternoon, Rivas described the 500 years of genocidal practices, which continue today. Rivas said the U.S. Border Patrol, under Homeland Security, has attempted to oppress the people.
At the Human Rights Hearing in Jamaica, Rivas said her purpose was to describe the militarization and the attempt to dehumanize human beings carried out by the United States government.
Rivas was in a delegation of Native American women who testified on the criminalization of Native people.
Testifying in Jamaica on Thursday were Michelle Cook, Dine', Leoyla Cowboy, Dine', and Casey Camp Horinek, Ponca. They told of the abuse by police at Standing Rock, and those now suffering and abused for protecting the water.
"My focus there was the mindset of the United States government," Rivas said, describing the racism toward people of color in the United States.
"We are under surveillance all the time."
"These inhumane policies mean we are not treated equally as human beings."
Rivas said "heavily armed military interrogate our elders" and they do not speak English or Spanish. They speak O'odham.
The new integrated fixed towers have been approved by the Tohono O'odham Nation, Rivas said.
The company, Elbit Systems of Israel, is the same company that oppresses the people of Palestine.
Rivas said the targeting and delays getting home are the harassment that Palestinians and Indigenous are enduring around the world.
"I endured two days, trying to get home, and I'm not home yet."
"We have survived 500 years of this type of attack on our lives."
"We will survive these attacks."
"I feel that what has happened in Standing Rock has opened the eyes of the world to the genocidal policies that the United States has, in what they call the greatest country in the world."
"It only applies to certain people, and certainly not to me."
The egregious attitude of the United States toward Indigenous Peoples human rights was obvious at the hearing, when the U.S. showed no respect to the Commissioners.
Rivas pointed out that during the hearing, the US delegation from the United States Embassy and State Department, told the Commission that it was "incompetent" and that the U.S. does not have to comply with these laws -- laws that  govern the whole world, Rivas said.
"I hope that I am able to speak on the behalf of all the animals and plants and the people that do not have a voice."

Rivas said corporations fund the deep pockets and make an impact on every aspect of our lives.

When the Tohono O'odham Nation approved the integrated fixed towers, (known as spy towers) they did not think of the impact on the natural world, she said.
They didn't think about the bees, how they pollinate the plants, or the future generations of children, she said.
Although the United States attempts to convince people that terrorists may enter from the southern border.
Rivas said investigations prove otherwise.
"We don't believe that garbage."
At the hearing in Jamaica, Mexico told of the missing Indigenous women and children.
She said this is happening to Indigenous women and children around the world.

Censored News has daily live coverage of the hearing, May 8 -- 10, 2019.

Please support Ofelia Rivas work:

Ofelia needs new tires to continue her work, including taking O'odham elders to meetings.
Donations can be sent to:
Ofelia Rivas
PO Box 1835
Sells, Arizona 85634

The following article is from 2015, but the spy towers are still planned.

Breaking News Exclusive!

US Israeli spy tower pact targets Tohono O'odham sacred mountain and spying on traditional O'odham

By Brenda Norrell
copyright Censored News 
French translation by Christine Prat

GU-VO, Tohono O'odham Nation -- The US has targeted two traditional Tohono O'odham districts, Gu-Vo District and Chukut Kuk District, with 15 new US spy towers built by the Israeli Apartheid corporation Elbit Systems, responsible for Apartheid security surrounding Palestine.

On Tohono O'odham land, the US conceals the fact the US Homeland Security gave the spy towers contract to the Israeli corporation Elbit Systems, responsible for the Apartheid security surrounding Palestine and a manufacturer of drones.

The Gu-Vo District opposes this proposal. Gu-Vo is in the western most district of the Tohono O'odham Nation.

The Gu-Vo District said in a statement, "The Gu-Vo District opposes these proposed tower sites to protect cultural sites on the holy mountain now called the Ajo Mountain Range. The mountain holds human remains of our people and also places of our cultural practices (medicine bundles) home and home of the ceremonial deer and bighorn sheep and mountain tortoises that are protected under the Endangered Species Act."

"The United States government military forces, the border patrol, have not been forthcoming with impact information, such as health effects and have deliberately misinformed the people regarding the immediate environmental impacts such as the roads they will build on the mountain and installation of electrical power lines to the sites as well as that these proposed tower sites will have a 25-year or longer impact on the mountain, the animal and plant life and
Tohono O'odham 1916
the O'odham lives."

"The Gu-Vo District communities landscape have already been greatly impacted by numerous unauthorized roads and destruction of our mountains and hills of great significance to the O'odham way of life. Our future generations will face more restriction to live on our original lands as our rights as original Indigenous peoples continue to deteriorate."

"These U.S. proposed towers also are not on the border but in our communities and on the border of the Tohono O'odham Nation reiterating discrimination and deliberate attack on the O'odham," said Gu-Vo District.

While the US attempts to conceal who this contract has been granted to, the US border contract was celebrated in Israel.

Last year US Homeland Security gave the $145 million Integrated Fixed Tower to Elbit Systems, an Israeli defense contractor, instead of to a US corporation. Prior to this contract, Boeing spent $1 billion attempting to build spy towers before announcing that its spy towers on the Arizona border did not work.
US Border Patrol with spy cameras pointed into the home
of a traditional O'odham woman

The Israeli spy towers are the latest attack on the traditional O’odham, and a means of surveillance and oppression, for O'odham who live in their sovereign homeland.

The increase of US and Israeli militarization on sovereign Tohono O'odham land has resulted in widespread human rights abuses, including rapes and murders carried out by US Border Patrol agents. 

US Border Patrol agents have been arrested and convicted in every region of the US border for running drugs. A Congressional hearing revealed that hundreds of US Border Patrol and ICE agents have been arrested and convicted of drug smuggling and serving as "spotters." Spotters are look-outs for the Mexican cartels and provide safe passage for the cartels to transport large loads of drugs into the US. 

The US government has armed the Mexican cartels since 2005 by way of the US ATF's Project Gunrunner, Wide Receiver and Fast and Furious. The US media has failed to expose how US agents are involved in drug smuggling at the southern border. The US uses the excuse of this so-called war on drugs in an attempt to justify these US Israeli spy towers, which violate all laws of privacy and human rights in the US.

Meanwhile, universities have partnered with Israel to target Indigenous Peoples in the creation of drones and surveillance. 

The University of Arizona in Tucson is boycotted by O'odham human rights activists for designing drones and border surveillance which target and kill Indigenous Peoples globally. San Carlos Apache also boycott the University of Arizona for taking the lead, with the Pope, in placing massive telescopes on sacred Mount Graham in Arizona.
Above: US spy tower near Sells, Arizona, on the sovereign Tohono O'odham Nation, viewed with outrage by a delegation of Mohawks, Lakota, Dine' and Pueblo during the Indigenous Border Summit of the Americas in 2007. The spy tower was located next to the "cage," constructed of a metal fence and concrete floor where migrants were detained, including Indigenous Peoples from Mexico and Central America, walking and hoping for a better life. Large numbers of Indigenous Peoples have died on the Tohono O'odham Nation of thirst and dehydration. The Tohono O'odham Nation created a law which made it a crime to give a drink of water, or aid, to migrants. This law was opposed by Tohono O'odham human rights activists who say they have been instructed by their ancestors to carry out a spiritual way of life for all of creation, the Himdaag way of life.

Below is the current proposal of Aug. 2015:

In the news:
Reuters: US Homeland Security awards contract to Elbit:

Epoch Times: During the Congressional hearing on border agent crime, the US admitted that since 2004, over 130 agents of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have been arrested, charged, or otherwise prosecuted on corruption charges. The convictions include alien and drug smuggling, money laundering, and conspiracy.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz: State of Arizona used Elbit drones on Arizona border in 2004:

The IFT systems will consist of surveillance equipment (e.g., ground surveillance radars and surveillance cameras) mounted on fixed (i.e., stationary) tower(s); all necessary power generation and communications equipment to support these tower sites; and command and control (C2) center equipment (including one or more operator workstations) that are capable of displaying information received from surveillance towers on a common operating picture (COP), based on current BP AoRs.

copyright, Brenda Norrell, Censored News
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Copyright Ofelia Rivas, Brenda Norrell, Govinda Dalton. No portion may be used without permission.

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