A Joint Statement by International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), International Organization for Self Determination and Equality (IOSDE)
On the night of November 20, 2016, over 400 Water Protectors gathered on a bridge near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, United States and were violently dispersed by police forces in the name of the corporate-owned Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The security forces were in riot gear and used water cannons, concussion grenades, rubber bullets, tear gas and sound cannons against the Water Protectors, who were weaponless and praying, singing and seeking to create access to and through the bridge in order to ensure connection to a nearby town for supplies, support and health care.
In this horrific incident, police forces indiscriminately aimed water cannons at everyone on the site, and targeted people’s heads and legs with their bullets. Tear gas was also used against the Water Protectors. Around 300 were injured and 26 had to be hospitalized, including one arm amputation case, one for cardiac arrest, and another for seizures. Because of the near-freezing temperature in the area, the water from the cannons used by the police caused early signs of hypothermia. Police also illegally detained 16 protesters one day after the incident.
Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, has continued construction of the USD 3.7 billion project despite a request from the US government to temporarily cease construction. The US Army Corps of Engineers, with capacity to implement this request into order, has in fact done nothing to stop ETP from continuing construction. The 1,170-mile pipeline will threaten the water supplies and waterways, and continue to desecrate Native American burial grounds and sacred sites. ETP has already landgrabbed from private US landowners as well as Native Americans in the course of construction. At least 500 activists and supporters have been slapped with trumped-up charges for resisting the project.
The International Indigenous Peoples’ Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), and the International Organization for Self Determination and Equality (IOSDE) condemn in the strongest possible terms this violent dispersal of Water Protectors by government security forces. Instead of protecting its own people against plunder, environmental degradation and human rights violations, the US government has chosen to side with big corporations such as ETP. It has done nothing to uphold its international obligations to protect human rights, and its continued support of the DPAL construction clearly shows its bias to protect corporate interests and outright disregard of the rights of Indigenous Peoples and other oppressed groups not only in its own country but in the whole world.
We from the IPMSDL, AIPP and IOSDE strongly reiterate our solidarity with the Sioux peoples in their fight against corporate encroachment, plunder and militarization of their ancestral lands. We continue to stand with the Standing Rock Sioux peoples and all Indigenous Peoples in the world in our common struggle for self determination, the defense of our lands, territories and resources, and the protection of our cultural heritage. Global attention and actions are urgently needed to resolve the historical injustices committed against Indigenous Peoples, which is the source of many of the conflicts around the world.