Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

August 16, 2019

Halt U.S. dollars to Israel and Apartheid contractor Elbit targeting Tohono O'odham and Palestinians

Photo: The Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems, known for Apartheid in Palestine, constructed this spy tower in Sonoita, Arizona, on the border, last year with a contract with U.S. Homeland Security. Elbit is now preparing to construct spy towers on the Tohono O'odham Nation that will destroy ceremonial and burial areas. 

Halt U.S. dollars to Israel and Apartheid contractor Elbit Systems, targeting Tohono O'odham and Palestinians

"In Gu-Vo District we remain strong to stand for our ancient cultural beliefs and have made our offerings to the ancient ones and ancient lands. We will continue to be the voice for the bees, four-legged sacred animals, winged ones, sacred plants, our sacred mountains and our sacred water. We will remain standing for our next 7 generations." -- Ofelia Rivas, Tohono O'odham

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

Israel denied entry to two United States Congresswomen, resulting in a cry across the United States for the U.S. to stop funding Israel and Israeli contractors in the United States, specifically those who are carrying out Apartheid construction on the Arizona border and in Palestine.

The first contract that should be halted is the U.S. Homeland Security contract with Elbit Systems to build spy towers on the Tohono O'odham Nation.

Over the objections of Gu-Vo District, the Tohono O'odham Nation passed a resolution in March to allow Elbit to construct the high-tech, integrated fixed towers, in remote O'odham traditional communities, which will destroy O'odham ceremonial and burial areas.

Elbit Systems is an Israeli defense contractor known worldwide for human rights abuses --  with technology, security systems, and drones -- and specifically as an instrument of Apartheid in Palestine. The United States gave Elbit an additional $26 million in June for towers in the Casa Grande Border Patrol area, on the south-central Arizona border, where the Tohono O'odham Nation is located.

Ofelia Rivas, Tohono O'odham on border
Ofelia Rivas, O'odham living on the border, told Censored News on Friday night, that the spy towers are a continuation of discrimination and manipulation by the U.S. government, working in collusion with Israel.

"At the onset of discussions of the integrated fixed towers, the Department of Homeland Security representatives have deliberately discriminated against the O'odham communities by not fully disclosing details and the purpose of these proposed towers, originally called communication towers," Rivas said.
"The DHS border agents deceived tribal government authorities in communities and districts with vague information about these towers and deceived these tribal authorities at each meeting, leading them to believe that without their support they would be endangering their neighboring district members."
"In the final environmental assessment, all concerns raised by the only opposing district, Gu-Vo (Big Pond) District, were found insignificant -- that means that they found our ancient burial places are insignificant, that all sacred cultural places are insignificant and thereby not addressed."
"Our tribal leadership has failed to uphold their sacred English written words of the Tohono O'odham Nation Constitution, to protect the culture, by approving the construction of these towers. The DHS has not provided statistical information on environmental impacts on vital plants and animals, short term and long term effects on the O'odham (people)," Rivas said.

"Through deliberate and calculated tactics, the DHS border patrol officials have used fear and intimidation on the O'odham in every single household, off and on the reservation of the Tohono O'odham Nation. O'odham have been intimated, humiliated and aggressively attacked. They subdued them and forced people into their homes so they would neglect their traditional obligations."

"In Gu-Vo District we remain strong to stand for our ancient cultural beliefs and have made our offerings to the ancient ones and ancient lands."
"We will continue to be the voice for the bees, four-legged sacred animals, winged ones, sacred plants, our sacred mountains, and our sacred water. We will remain standing for our next 7 generations."

"We continue to urge the O'odham to voice their support within their communities and districts, and to tribal authorities, to address our concerns," Rivas said.

Gu-Vo District opposed spy tower construction
Gu-Vo, in the western most district of the Tohono O'odham Nation, stated, "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 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.

Ofelia Rivas, O'odham living on the border and founder of O'odham VOICE Against the Wall, describes the him'dag, way of life here. "The O’odham way of life is based on the land that has held the remains of our ancestors since the creation of this world. The O’odham did not migrate from anywhere according to our oral history. Our creation tellings record our history and teach the O’odham principles of life. The survival of O’odham today is based in our him’dag."

However, the Tohono O'odham Nation Council passed a resolution on March 22 consenting to grants of easement for rights-of-way across nation's lands for the U.S. Homeland Security Border Patrol towers.

Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib

U.S. Congresswomen halted by Israel
U.S. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar laid out Israel’s crimes and abuses of Palestinians, the Electronic Intifada reports.
On Thursday, Israel confirmed that it would bar Omar and fellow Democratic lawmaker Rashida Tlaib from traveling on a congressional delegation to Israel and the occupied West Bank.

“As many of my colleagues have stated in the last 24 hours, we give Israel more than $3 billion in aid every year,” Omar states. “This is predicated on there being an important ally in the region and the ‘only democracy’ in the Middle East.”
“Denying visits to duly elected members of Congress is not consistent with being either an ally or a democracy,” she adds. “We should be leveraging that aid to stop the settlements and ensure full rights for Palestinians.”
“The occupation is real,” Omar concludes. “Barring members of Congress from seeing it does not make it go away. We must end it – together.”

After Trump urged Israel to halt the Congresswomen from entering Israel, a global backlash followed.

On Friday, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat and the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, said she had decided to cancel her visit to her grandmother in the West Bank after Israel announced that it reversed its position and granted her permission.
"I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in — fighting against racism, oppression and injustice," Tlaib tweeted, NBC reported on Friday
Photo: US Border Patrol raid on humanitarian volunteers at Arizona border

Israeli U.S. spy towers will continue abuse by U.S. Border Patrol
The current spy tower construction follows a one billion dollar boondoggle construction of spy towers by Boeing, which did not work. These towers included one on the Tohono O'odham Nation near Sells, Arizona. Elbit was a subcontractor on the previous Boeing contract with U.S. Homeland Security. The current plan is to construct more spy towers, with the invasive construction of roads.
Already, the U.S. Border Patrol stalks O'odham women and elderly, and agents are carrying out widespread abuse of O'odham in their homes. The U.S. Border Patrol has assaulted O'odham and continue to carry out a reign of terror on O'odham in their homeland.
All along the southern U.S. border, from Texas to California, US Border Patrol and ICE agents have been arrested for murder, rape, and assault with weapons.

Apartheid contractor Elbit awarded again
In Israel on June 26, 2019, the Israeli defense contractor Elbit announced the latest windfall of dollars from U.S. Homeland Security for spy towers construction:
HAIFA, Israel, June 26, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Elbit Systems announced today that its subsidiary in the U.S., Elbit Systems of America, LLC ("Elbit Systems of America"), was awarded an approximately $26 million contract from the United States Customs and Border Protection ("CBP") to install an Integrated Fixed Towers ("IFT") system in the U.S. Border Patrol Casa Grande Area of Responsibility ("AoR") in Arizona. The project will be performed over a one-year period. To date, Elbit Systems of America has been awarded a number of contracts from CBP to install IFT systems in numerous AoR's covering a total of approximately 200 miles of the Arizona–Mexico border.
The IFT system comprises a command and control center and a networked multi-tower, multi-sensor system that continuously monitors portions of the U.S. southern border. Information from the towers is sent to the command and control center at a Border Patrol Station providing agents with long-range, persistent surveillance and situational awareness that allows them to dispatch an appropriate response. This capability provides greater safety for the agents patrolling the border in the Casa Grande AoR.

Copyright Brenda Norrell and Ofelia Rivas, Censored News
may not be republished without permission

In the news, read more at The Intercept:

"Rep. Betty McCollum, a Minnesota Democrat, then added that Trump and Netanyahu were 'afraid' of letting Tlaib and Omar 'witness first-hand the brutality and dehumanization Israel’s occupation inflicts on the Palestinian people.'” McCollum, who introduced legislation in May to ban Israel from using U.S. military aid to detain, interrogate, or torture Palestinian children, added that “This bigoted president is working to extend his Muslim travel ban to Members of Congress.”
The Intercept

No comments: