Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

November 5, 2022

Human Rights Tribunals: Excessive force and murder -- San Diego Border, Standing Rock and Tohono O'odham Nation

Maria Puga and twins Daniela and Daniel near where Anastacio Hernandez Rojas was murdered by U.S. Border Patrol. He was beaten and tasered at the San Ysidro port of entry. Photo by People's Portfolio.

Human Rights Tribunals: Excessive force and murder -- San Diego Border, Standing Rock and Tohono O'odham Nation 

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

The United States declined to respond during the tribunal today for the torture and murder of Anastasio Hernandez Rojos, who died after being kicked like a barrel and repeatedly tasered in handcuffs by U.S. Border Patrol agents at the San Diego border.

Today's tribunal was the first time the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights had taken up a case of extrajudicial killing by U.S. law enforcement. The case exposed the shadow units, the secret cover-up units concealing the crimes committed by U.S. Border Patrol agents.

Hernandez Rojas' widow Maria Puga said, “They just thought he was one more immigrant who was going to disappear. But here we are.”

U.S. Cover-up of excessive force and militarization at Standing Rock and border

Casey Camp Horinek, Ponca, Michelle Cook, Dine
Leoyla Cowboy, Dine', and Ofelia Rivas, Tohono O'odham,
testifying in Jamaica. Photo by Brenda Norrell.

The human rights commission heard similar testimony by Dine', Ponca and Tohono O'odham on the excessive force by law enforcement at Standing Rock, and the militarization and abuse by the Border Patrol on the Tohono O'odham Nation, during a tribunal in Jamaica in 2019.

After the testimony on excessive force and militarization targeting Native people, the United States did respond but failed to assume responsibility for the excessive force and militarization at Standing Rock and at the border.

Showing disrespect to the Commission, the U.S. delegation, from the U.S. State Department and U.S. Embassy, said that the U.S. questions the competency of the Commission and does not have to abide by the Commission.

Referring to the private mercenaries TigerSwan, the U.S. pointed out legal action is ongoing against TigerSwan, which operated without a license in North Dakota. Further, the U.S. said private security companies were responsible for the attack with dogs on Water Protectors.

Excessive force and violence targeted Water Protectors at Standing Rock, North Dakota, in 2016 and 2017. Law enforcement sprayed tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets at close range, tasered Water
Defenders, beat medics and arrested Native elders in ceremony. Morton County Sheriff strip searched Water Protectors, wrote numbers on their arms, jailed them in "dog cages" on the basement concrete floor,  and denied Native elders their medicines. As shown in photo five above, Water Protectors were attacked by dogs of private security and unidentified agents hired by the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The United States officials failed to provide plausible reasons for the massive buildup of Sheriff's Departments from throughout the United States. Law enforcement attacked Water Protectors with tear gas, water cannons, sound cannons, and projectiles that resulted in serious injury at Standing Rock.

Instead, U.S. officials claimed the U.S. had investigated itself, formed a task force, and issued a report.

Tohono O'odham Ofelia Rivas testified that her people are being brutalized by the US Department of Homeland Security, and her homelands militarized, just as was the case in Standing Rock.

"U.S. Homeland Security has criminalized the Tohono O'odham," Ofelia testified. She described the integrated fixed towers on her homeland. The spy towers were constructed by the Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems and stream live tracking of O'odham to the Border Patrol on the Tohono O'odham Nation.

As a result of her testimony, Ofelia was detained and delayed from leaving Jamaica.

Today, the spy towers that Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems constructed on O'odham burial places provide live feed for U.S. Border Patrol agents to stalk O'odham. On the Arizona border, U.S. Border Patrol have been charged with murder, serial rape and drug running. Most avoid prosecution and prison.

Elbit Systems manufactures surveillance systems, weapons and drones used for the torture, murder and imprisonment of Palestinians.

Read our full report from Jamaica at Censored News.

Border Patrol Shadow Units Exposed that Cover-Up Evidence

In the San Diego murder at the border, attorneys previously submitted to the commission evidence they had found that suggested a plot to cover up officials’ responsibility in the killing and obstruct the San Diego police investigation.

"Their allegations extended high into the ranks of the agencies involved. That evidence led them last year to denounce what they termed “shadow units” or secretive investigative teams within U.S. Border Patrol that operated, according to documentation from the San Diego unit itself, to mitigate liability for the agency," San Diego Union-Tribune reported tonight.

The human rights commission asked if torture was legal in the United States, but received no response.

"CBP is the greatest threat to human rights in the United States," said Andrea Guerrero, executive director of Alliance San Diego and one of Puga’s attorneys.

(Above) Democracy Now showed a citizen video of the beating. A crowd of Border Patrol agents
handcuffed and hogtied him, tasered him at least five times, while beating him to death.

San Diego Union-Tribune reports the torture

Rafael Barriga, a Mexican immigration official who witnessed CBP officers and Border Patrol agents beating Hernández Rojas and shooting him with a Taser, told the commission what he had seen during his shift back on May 28, 2010.

He said that at around 9 p.m., a woman came into the office that received deportees to say a Latino man was being beaten. Barriga said he went out and could hear cries of the bystanders pleading with U.S. officials to stop hitting someone. He could also hear the man, who he learned later was Hernández Rojas, crying out in pain. The officials moved the man, and then suddenly Barriga could see for himself what was happening.

“I never imagined I would see that in my time as an official,” Barriga said. “They brought him on the ground, rolling him, kicking him as though he were a barrel, as though he couldn’t feel pain.”

Hernández Rojas was handcuffed, he said.

Read the full article by Kate Morrissey, San Diego Union-Tribunal

Censored News article copyright by Brenda Norrell, Censored News.

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