Temporary victory at Standing Rock

first_imgCannon Ball, N.D. – Since last spring, volunteers from 280 Native tribes and countless other folks have been pouring into the various camps of the Standing Rock Sioux — ultimately up to 25,000 people, some for short stays and others “for the duration.” Their mission: to help the Sioux tribes stop the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) from being drilled under the great Missouri River, befouling the water supply for 17 million people, desecrating sacred sites and trampling on Native lands and sovereignty.Native fighters had already employed an array of militant tactics to stop the pipeline, including chaining themselves to construction equipment.Then, on Nov. 25, the Army Corps of Engineers, backed by the North Dakota governor, issued an ultimatum, ordering all 7,000 people then living in the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires of the Great Sioux Nation) camp to pack up and leave. He was basically saying, “Everybody out, or we’ll bulldoze the place.”Can you believe this? The evacuation deadline was Dec. 5, and “any person who chooses to stay does so at their own risk.” Tribal leaders refused, demanding respect for their community and territorial treaty rights.The evacuation order, in addition to ongoing vicious police repression against the water protectors, prompted a howl of outrage from all over. Military veterans, youth and the elderly, individually and in groups, dropped whatever personal plans they may have had and headed for Standing Rock. Social media definitely helped.Some 4,000 Indigenous people came from all over — Arizona, Wisconsin, Peru, Mexico, Samoa, Hawai’i and Alaska, to name just a few. There were students foregoing important exams; a vet in pain from surgery on both knees; another vet waiting for a kidney, who told his doctor to put it on ice, he’d have to wait; people with asthma violating doctor’s orders but bringing all their equipment with them; pensioners who took out payday loans so they could come. Some came on bicycles, or walked hundreds of miles to get there. They stayed in tents (with deadman tent-stake anchors), tipis, campers, yurts, old school buses, Winnebagos or hastily built wooden structures.It seems that Standing Rock struck a powerful chord with many people, willing to make a sacrifice at a moment’s notice because Standing Rock needed them and they desired to come — anything to stop that miserable pipeline — anything to stop the eviction of the heroic Sioux water protectors from their own treaty land. Some came with body armor, gas masks and spray bottles with diluted Mylanta to minimize the effects of tear gas.So by the time Dec. 4 rolled around, on the eve of the threatened police eviction, many thousands were arriving at the camps. They were determined to put themselves on the line to defeat the “eviction,” prevent the drilling and stop the “Big Black Snake,” as tribal leaders call the toxic oil pipeline.Celebrating a temporary victoryAs the line of cars waiting to get into the Oceti Sakowin camp stretched for three miles along Highway 1806, you could hear updates on the struggle on the Native radio station, 89.5, along with recordings of powerful, emotional singing and drums by Native artists and country songs that told a story by Freddy Fender and Conway Twitty.Then came the unexpected announcement. The Army Corps had refused to “grant an easement” to allow DAPL to be drilled underneath Lake Oahe on the Missouri River. The Army Corps statement mentioned exploring possible alternative routes for the pipeline and the need for an Environmental Impact Statement, all requiring months of delay.That Sunday night everyone celebrated this important temporary victory, gathered around the Sacred Fire at the Oceti Sakowin camp while fireworks lit the clear sky. Nearby the flags of over a hundred tribes flapped in the wind on the edge of the dirt road.Tribal leaders welcomed their “relatives” — allies who had come — and introduced young Native runners who had done marathons across many states to call attention to the dire situation at Standing Rock. These young warriors expressed defiance at the encroachments on Native land and water rights, but also sorrow about the recent suicide of a teenaged member of the tribe.The next morning at 6 a.m., tribal elders convened an assembly at the Sacred Fire, with chanting, drums and prayer. A Native woman from Washington state said she came with two gifts. The first was traditional medicine from her tribe. The second was music, performed live by a young singer and drummer from her tribe. She said that back home Indigenous people were fighting a similar struggle to stop a toxic oil terminal.An elder, who identified himself as Dull Knife, had this to say about the unexpected Army Corps decision: “Of course we welcome any delay in this pipeline. But we know they lie. They always lie, the government and the police. That’s why we’re here, standing strong here at Standing Rock. We’re here and we’re going to stay here until we stop the Big Black Snake!”That was Dec. 5 — the day the Army and the state had threatened to evict everyone from the Oceti Sakowin camp, which now numbered at least 10,000 people. Someone commented, “I don’t think they have enough jails in all North Dakota to accommodate that many.”A huge march of defiance, led by military veterans, left from the camp to the bridge near where Energy Transfer Partners, co-owner of the pipeline project, had planned to drill the DAPL under the Missouri River. By now it was snowing, soon to become a blinding blizzard that whipped people with 25-mile-an-hour winds as they approached the Backwater Bridge.This was the same bridge where on Nov. 20 militarized police and the company’s private mercenaries, outfitted as though they were ready for war, had hosed and soaked the people for six hours using water cannons at close range in subzero temperatures. They beat, arrested, pepper-sprayed, maced, tear-gassed, strip-searched and hit the water protectors with flash grenades, rubber bullets and beanbags filled with lead pellets.Some who were captured got numbers marked on their bodies; others were caged in dog kennels. A Native elder suffered cardiac arrest. A young woman, seriously wounded by a concussion grenade, a weapon of war, was airlifted to Minnesota for treatment.As journalist Jeremiah Jones wrote from Standing Rock, the “law enforcement” officers who committed these atrocities “are nothing more than a militarized security force for billion-dollar energy corporations.”Veterans came and Native people from many NationsNearly 4,000 Indigenous people came from tribes in almost every state, and many have put in extended stays at Standing Rock. Together with folks from the Sioux and nearby Cheyenne River Nations, this was described by one participant as the largest Indigenous gathering in living memory. Relationships were built between the different tribes, bonded in their common struggle. The slogan “Decolonize – Indigenize” was sewn into jackets.The size of the veteran participation may have played a decisive role. The largest contingent — Veterans Stand with Standing Rock — was organized by Wesley Clark Jr., son of the famous general, together with Phyllis Young, a Standing Rock councilwoman. Brenda White Bull, who is a 20-year Marine veteran and also a direct descendant of Chief Sitting Bull, also played a role. Clark told me they’d expected 1,600. Instead, 4,000 veterans showed up, filling three campsites.In addition, Veterans for Peace had a strong presence, organizing and putting to use the large amount of medical supplies that had been donated. Others came from Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans of Foreign Wars. Some identified themselves as Jewish-American veterans, African-American veterans, Italian-American veterans. The ratio of men to women was about 60-40. In addition, hundreds of vets just showed up on their own, ready to work, ready to “fight for peace and justice,” as one vet put it.One said Standing Rock was a historic gathering for veterans, with many more vets coming to North Dakota than had come to the major Vietnam Veterans Against the War action in Washington, D.C., in 1971. “In the era of Trump,” he said, “it’s encouraging that 4,500 or more veterans dropped everything and came to North Dakota in the harsh Great Plains winter to be in solidarity with our brothers and sisters here in Standing Rock.”By mid-week, forecasts were calling for winds up to 39 mph, wind-chill as low as 40 below.Many of the vets who answered the call are Indigenous, including Navy veteran Remy, member of the Navajo Nation from Arizona and the Indigenous Veterans Council at Standing Rock. Remy said, “This pipeline must end, and we should be able to respect Indigenous sovereignty. This is our land originally. Land and the water are life-giving elements. So we’ve been out here in solidarity not only with the Standing Rock people, but with Mother Earth itself.” (Democracy Now, Dec. 5)The Standing Rock Sioux also happily welcomed the presence of Labor for Standing Rock, Black Lives Matter, St. Louis Copwatch activists (who came with a months-long commitment) and solidarity visits from a collection of celebrities, including Jesse Jackson, Congress member and veteran Tulsi Gabbard of Hawai’i, Jackson Browne, Naomi Klein and Jane Fonda. Joan Baez and Willie Nelson offered key support.This whole-hearted response contrasts sharply with the pathetic letter of “support” from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, belatedly issued on Dec. 4, the same day as the Army Corps permit denial, after months of silence from the senator. Warren is  deftly dissected by YouTube personality Jimmy Dore (tinyurl.com/zd44tgj).Will DAPL become a ‘stranded asset’?Certainly, there’s no sign so far that DAPL is backing down. The main highway going north from the camp (1806) is still blockaded, with military-style checkpoints. The bridge is still guarded by police and DAPL mercenaries, who recently arrested three water protectors for “trespassing.”Ominously, Energy Transfer Partners , issued a statement Dec. 4 saying it would ignore the Army Corps permit decision and go ahead with drilling under the Missouri River. It could decide to drill and just absorb any fines or penalties. Then the question comes: Is the Obama administration ready to use force to stop the company from drilling without a permit?However, there is some evidence that ETP may be pressing ahead more out of desperation than anything else. ETP admitted in court that it has a “contractual obligation to complete the project by January 1.” If it misses the deadline, as now appears likely, companies with long-term commitments to ship oil through the pipeline may cancel, according to a November report by Sightline Institute.As a consequence of the global oil glut, oil prices have dropped sharply since ETP began the project in 2014. “Production in the Bakken Shale oil field has fallen … creating major financial hardships for drillers,” the report notes. Moreover, if oil prices remain low, “Bakken oil production will continue to decline, and existing pipeline and refinery capacity in the Bakken will be more than adequate to handle the region’s oil production [and] DAPL could well become a stranded asset.”The struggle at Standing Rock and nationally, where activists in 300 cities have mounted actions against the financial backers of this toxic pipeline — Citibank, Wells Fargo, TD Bank and 15 others — has clearly had an effect. Norway’s largest bank, DNB, under pressure from Greenpeace Norway, sold its stake in the pipeline project, and is reconsidering its outstanding loans to the project. Wells Fargo has apparently experienced a drop in deposits, following the divestment campaign.Standing Rock has caught the imagination of the world: a resurgent Indigenous movement, which has been leading many battles in the U.S. and Canada; a fighting veterans’ movement, re-emerging as a powerful force; a large contingent of young people of many colors from all over, selflessly devoting themselves to the struggle; networks being activated around the country and the world. All coming together in a coalition that, in the context of the global economic and financial crisis, just might be able to take on a powerful oil company that is threatening to poison the water, and defeat it.Welsh, an Army veteran and retired letter carrier, stayed at the Oceti Sakowin camp in early December, working in the mess hall and kitchen that provided three meals a day to hordes of water protectors. Many thanks for the information and insights of Maurice Martin of Veterans for Peace, who worked tirelessly at Eagle Butte to provide medical support for the tribes and the huge contingent of veterans.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Open letter to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

first_img Follow the news on Singapore News SingaporeAsia – Pacific April 10, 2020 Find out more to go further Jean-François JulliardSecretary-General October 15, 2020 Find out more News Coronavirus: State measures must not allow surveillance of journalists and their sources RSF’s denounces Singapore’s disregard of press freedom ahead of its Universal Periodic Review Help by sharing this information Dear Prime Minister,A foreign news organisation has yet again been forced to apologise to you and your father and pay you a large sum of money for publishing an article you did not like. This time it is the New York Times Co. that is a victim of this double punishment because of a compliant judicial system that always rules in favour of you and your family in all the lawsuits you bring against foreign news media.Before the New York Times Co., you succeeded in punishing the Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER), FinanceAsia.com, The Economist, International Herald Tribune and Asian Wall Street Journal for their coverage of the political and economic situation in your country.Threatened by a trial, the New York Times Co. apologised to you and your father, Lee Kuan Yew, for the article “All in the Family,” written by Philip Bowring and published in the 15 February issue of the International Herald Tribune. As well as an apology, this US media company had to pay 114,000 US dollars in damages.Your lawyer, Davinder Singh, said Bowring’s article violated an “agreement” between your family and the International Herald Tribune, which was sentenced in 1994 to pay a large sum in damages for an article entitled “The claims about Asian values don’t usually bear scrutiny.” The now defunct Far Eastern Economic Review agreed last November, after a long legal wrangle, to pay you and your father 290,000 US dollars in damages. Despite a lack of evidence, Singaporean judges ruled in favour of your family both in the original trial and on appeal without a thought for media freedom.Reporters Without Borders condemns the judicial harassment which you and your father have practiced for years in order to prevent foreign news media from taking too close an interest in how you run your country. It does serious and lasting harm to press freedom in Singapore.Your government has repeatedly displayed a disturbing inability to tolerate foreign journalists. Last October, for example, Ben Bland, a British freelancer who strings for The Economist and The Daily Telegraph, was denied a visa and permission to cover an APEC summit in Singapore. “I was forced to leave Singapore after the government refused to renew my work visa without any explanation,” Bland told Reporters Without Borders.But the censorship has above all affected local media and local artistic production. In October 2009, for example, the ministry of information, communication and arts upheld a ban on a documentary by Singaporean filmmaker Martyn See about government opponent Said Zahari. Watch the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOI26wrp4b4In response to the publication of the Reporters Without Borders 2009 press freedom index, in which Singapore was ranked 133rd out of 175 countries, your law minister, K. Shanmugam, described it as “absurd” and “disconnected from reality.” Unfortunately, the facts show that we are right.In the six years since you became prime minister and said you favoured an “open” society, we have seen very few improvements in the situation of free speech.We therefore think your government should take the following measures as a matter of urgency:1. Put a stop to the libel actions which you and your relatives have been bringing against Singaporean and foreign media that cover Singaporean developments in an independent manner. As the UN special rapporteur for freedom of expression recently said, the prime minister, his minister and high officials must refrain from suing journalists over their articles and comments.2. Amend the criminal code so as to abolish prison sentences for press offences.3. Amend the press law, especially the articles concerning the granting of publication licences. The current restrictions are preventing the emergence of independent media. The film law should also be relaxed.4. Reform the national security law so as to abolish administrative detention, which allows the authorities to imprison people because of what they think.5. Reform the Media Development Authority so that it is no longer able to censor and can solely make recommendations about TV programmes and films.6. Allow government opponents and civil society representatives unrestricted access to the public media.7. Guarantee the editorial independence of all the media owned by Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) and Media Corporation of Singapore (Mediacorp).8. Transfer the money that your family has obtained in damages from foreign and Singaporean news media to a support fund for imprisoned journalists that Reporters Without Borders proposes to set up.We regret that you, the members of your government and your father keep citing the need to guarantee Singapore’s stability as grounds for controlling the media and maintaining its draconian laws. Countries that show the most respect for press freedom, such as Finland and Norway, are peaceful and prosperous democracies. Freedom of expression is not a source of political unrest. Quite the contrary.You have perpetuated your father’s legacy by continuing to harass and intimidate news media. As a result, aside from a few websites specialising in Singapore, no news outlet can publish independent news and information about issues affecting the political situation in your country.We would be very honoured to be able to meet with you in order to talk about our observations and our proposals for guaranteeing press freedom in Singapore in person.Respectfully, Receive email alerts Prime Minister Lee Hsien LoongPrime Minister’s OfficeOrchard RoadIstanaSingapore 238823 RSF_en SingaporeAsia – Pacific Organisation Singaporean website prosecuted over election coverage News October 2, 2020 Find out more News Paris, 25 March 2010 March 25, 2010 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Open letter to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loonglast_img read more

Two journalists employed by Sunni TV station murdered in separate incidents

first_img Reporters Without Borders today condemned the murders of two Baghdad TV journalists after being kidnapped in separate incidents in the past month. Owned by the (Sunni) Iraqi Islamic Party, Baghdad TV was the target of an armed attack just three months ago that killed two of its employees.“We are again deeply shocked by the news of these repeated attacks on the news media,” the press freedom organisation said. “Relatively little time elapsed between the attack on Baghdad TV’s headquarters and the kidnap murders of two its journalists. We call on the Iraqi authorities to protect the most exposed journalists to avoid further tragedies.”In the attack on the TV station’s headquarters on 5 April, a truck laden with explosives was driven at the building and then gunmen stormed inside and opened fire on employees, killing deputy director Thaer Ahmed Jabr and one of his assistants, Hussein Nizar. Nine other people were injured.Baghdad TV’s correspondent in the Al-Yusufia region south of Baghdad, Mohammed Hilal Karji (photo), was kidnapped outside his home as he was about to go to work on 8 June. His body was found in the morgue the next day. Another of the station’s journalists, Sarmad Hamdi Al-Hassani (photo), 43, was kidnapped at his home in the Baghdad neighbourhood of Al-Jami’a on 27 June. His body was also founded in the morgue the next day. July 3, 2007 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Two journalists employed by Sunni TV station murdered in separate incidents Help by sharing this information Organisation News Receive email alerts IraqMiddle East – North Africa December 28, 2020 Find out more to go further IraqMiddle East – North Africa News News RSF’s 2020 Round-up: 50 journalists killed, two-thirds in countries “at peace” Three jailed reporters charged with “undermining national security” February 15, 2021 Find out more Baghdad TV is run by Iraqi Vice-President Tareq al-Hashimi. As a result of the attack that destroyed its Baghdad premises, the TV station recent moved its headquarters to Sulaymaniyah, in Iraq’s northern Kurdish region, which is safer for journalists.The bullet-riddled body of journalist Luay Suleiman was meanwhile found on 28 June in Mosul, 400 km north of Baghdad. Suleiman worked for Nineveh, a local newspaper published by the Christian group Bait Nahrain. Follow the news on Iraq RSF_en Iraq : Wave of arrests of journalists covering protests in Iraqi Kurdistan News December 16, 2020 Find out morelast_img read more