Censorship and the US brand of terrorism at the border
By Brenda Norrell
Jose Matus, director of the Indigenous Alliance without Borders and Yaqui ceremonial leader, said Indigenous Peoples on the border are concerned that conditions under President Obama remain "status quo" with the Bush regime. This means the US Border Patrol and Homeland Security continue to abuse Indian people.
As requested by Yaqui elders to maintain ceremonies, for 30 years Matus has brought Yaqui ceremonial leaders across the border from Sonora, Mexico, to Arizona, for temporary visits to conduct annual ceremonies. Since 9/11, the harassment and detainments of traditional Indian people and ceremonial leaders have increased.
The Indigenous Alliance without Borders/Indigena Alianza sin Fronteras supports Indigenous Peoples struggling to maintain their traditional ceremonies and mobility in ancestral territories, including the Lipan Apache in Texas, facing the seizure of their land by Homeland Security for the US/Mexico border wall.
The Indigenous Alliance without Borders is also challenging the human rights abuses of Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio. In support of the National Human Rights March on Saturday, Feb. 28, in Phoenix, the Alliance urged an end to Arpaio's reign of terror.
"We believe that the militarization and border enforcement policies that have been inflicted upon the territories of our eight Nations of Indigenous Peoples divided by the US-Mexico border have helped nurture virulent racist nativism in America, and politicians have used immigration as a wedge issue that has degraded respect for the civil and human rights of us all," the Indigenous Alliance without Borders said.
Eight members of Congress have urged President Obama to halt construction of the border wall. The members of Congress cited the outrageous cost of the border wall and the waiver of federal laws to construct the wall. "Basic protections and rights under the National Historic Preservation Act and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act were violated. One example was the destruction of 69 Tohono O'odham graves south of Tucson in 2007," stated the letter from Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva and seven other Congress members from the border.
The abuse of Indigenous Peoples by the US Border Patrol, Homeland Security and Arpaio is among the most censored issues by the media.
The most underreported news includes the Zapatistas Digna Rabia gatherings in Chiapas; American Indians support for Palestinians; the discovery of US-made white phosphorus munitions used by Israel on Palestinians; the digging up of the graves of O'odham ancestors, 69 at one site alone, in Arizona for the US/Mexico border wall and the secret removal of the remains of O'odham ancestors by Boeing while constructing the border wall on O'odham land.
The rapes, murders and drug smuggling carried out by US Border Agents on the US border are among the most concealed facts, even in the alternative media, because the crimes are concealed. (Although dozens of US military soldiers, with a police officer and prison guard were convicted and sentenced in Arizona for smuggling cocaine last year, border agents carried out the sting and were not exposed.)
The smuggling of weapons into Mexico, which fuels the current drug violence, is also censored. Ultimately, it is the people in the US who buy the drugs and provide the weapons for this wave of violence. The US even trained some of the most brutal murderers in this drug war, the Zetas, formerly as US Special Forces. The privatization of US prisons, and media fueled racism toward migrants, has resulted in profiteering for politicians and corporations like GEO Group (formerly Wackenhut) and resulted in abuse and murders in prisons.
The issues in Mohawk Nation News are widely censored, including land theft and oppression by a wide range of security forces. The exposure of mass graves of Indian children at Canadian residential schools was among the most censored articles. The hoax of carbon credits, to enrich the World Bank and corporations, is also censored.
Another censored fact was that Leonard Peltier was recently beaten by a gang in a Pennsylvania prison, and transferred. The question of why so many American Indians in some Indian Nations are living in poverty, while millions of dollars are pouring into their casinos, is largely censored. Peabody Coal, along with a long list of corporations in collusion with the Navajo Nation government, continues to produce disease and pollution, even in the area of the Navajos' place of origin, Dinetah, in what is now New Mexico. On Western Shoshone land, and around the world, Barrick Gold, and other coal, gold, silver and copper mining corporations, continue to oppress the people and destroy Indigenous lands and water. In Guatemala, there have been assassinations, and in New Guinea, rapes and murders of villagers.
To expose all of these issues, many people have lost their jobs and positions, including Kevin Annett, a minister in Vancouver who continues to expose the murders and mass graves in church residential schools. In the US, Native Americans have been removed from their positions on tribal councils for demanding justice at the US border, while others have been detained and threatened by border agents and tribal police.
Kahentinetha Horn, publisher of Mohawk Nation News, and Katenies, MNN editor, two Mohawk grandmothers, were beaten at the Canadian border by border agents and Kahentinetha suffered a heart attack. Others continue to struggle for justice, like Angelita Ramon, Tohono O'odham, whose 18-year-old son Bennett Patricio, Jr., was ran over and killed by the US Border Patrol on Tohono O'odham land in Arizona.
Along with the loss of their jobs, many people who provide information for my articles have been hungry, homeless, sick, arrested, jailed and beaten over the past two years.
On the border, Indigenous Peoples are waiting to see if President Obama will halt the abuse by the US Border Patrol, Homeland Security and Arpaio and respect the culture, graves and ceremonies of Indigenous Peoples in their own territories.
Listen to Jose Matus at:
Statement by Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras
The Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras joins and stands strongly in support of all the people and organizers of the National Human Rights March to challenge the Human Rights abuses of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. We believe that the militarization and border enforcement policies that have been inflicted upon the territories of our eight Nations of Indigenous Peoples divided by the US-Mexico border have helped nurture virulent racist nativism in America, and politicians have used immigration as a wedge issue that has degraded respect for the civil and human rights of us all.
The actions of Sheriff Arpaio extend the militarization of the border to the entirety of the metropolis of Maricopa County, where the Sheriff's Posse acts as an "uber police" force, overriding jurisdictions of civil government and community control. We understand that the 287(g) Agreement now in place with the Sheriff of Maricopa County and the federal government has been implemented in violation of the constitutional right of Equal Protection and with blatant discriminatory enforcement tactics by Sheriff Arpaio, and therefore demand that the 287(g) Agreement be cancelled immediately.
We join voices as well with members of the Judiciary Committee of the US House of Representatives to call for federal investigation on the systematic practices and procedures of discriminatory enforcement that Sheriff Arpaio has implemented throughout Maricopa County, and that such violations be addressed in the appropriate judicial venues and courts of both civil and human rights. To this end, we call to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Professor James Anaya of the University of Arizona, to take into account these procedures of federal investigation now under way, and articulate effective measures to address the international regional and historical context of the issue as part of a pattern of systemic human rights violations driven by transnational government economic policies in North America, in reference to the regime of NAFTA.
Letter to President Obama from eight members of Congress:
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama:
As Members of Congress who represent border communities, we welcome your decision to evaluate border security operations before considering whether to finish construction of the border fence. However, we write to ask that you suspend, at least temporarily, construction of the border fence until your evaluation is complete.
We, along with our constituents, understand the importance of protecting our borders. Though there are places where a fence is the most feasible option, we strongly believe the Bush Administration's approach of constructing a fence along much of the Southwest Border was ill conceived as it was void of any meaningful input from the local communities or the Border Patrol Sector Chiefs who are most familiar with the challenges of securing our border. In an era of advanced technologies, the border fence is an antiquated structure that has torn our communities apart and damaged our cross border relationships.
As you may be aware, the previous administration undertook controversial measures to expedite the construction of border fencing, such as the waiver of more than thirty environmental laws. However, despite continually missing deadlines and, at times, forgoing the proper completion of land acquisition transactions, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has moved forward with much haste. In Cameron County, for example, the DHS issued a commence work order on December 30, 2008, for eight fence segments, none of which had completed the acquisition of the land required.
Furthermore, we would also like to bring to your attention the impact the Bush Administration's approach to the fence had on Indian Country. There are several tribal nations on the US-Mexico Border, during the pushing of the fence these nations were not consulted and in many instances their sovereignty was undermined. Basic protections and rights under the National Historic Preservation Act and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act were violated. One example was the destruction of 69 Tohono O'odham graves south of Tucson in 2007.
Additionally, the costs associated with construction of border fencing have rapidly escalated. In August 2008 the Government Accountability Office testified that fencing costs averaged $7.5 million per mile for pedestrian fencing and $2.8 million per mile for vehicle fencing, up from estimates in February of $4 million and $2 million, respectively. Furthermore, a Corps of Engineers study predicted the 25-year life cycle cost of maintaining border fencing would range from $16.4 million to $70 million.
Once again, we respectfully request that you suspend construction of border fencing until your Administration has had time to properly review its merits as well as consult with those on the ground most familiar with the situation. We look forward to working with you and Secretary Janet Napolitano to find a balanced and cost-effective approach to ensuring our nation's borders are secure.
Raul Grijalva, Member of Congress
Solomon P. Ortiz, Member of Congress
Silvestre Reyes, Member of Congress
Ruben Hinojosa, Member of Congress
Bob Filner, Member of Congress
Henry Cuellar, Member of Congress
Susan Davis, Member of Congress
Ciro D. Rodriguez, Member of Congress