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9/7/2011 CENSORED NEWS: Special Rapporteur reports on San Francisco Peaks to UN Human Rights Council

9/7/2011 CENSORED NEWS: Special Rapporteur reports on San Francisco Peaks to UN Human Rights Council By Brenda Norrell FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — UN Special Rapporteur James Anaya submitted a report to the UN Human Rights Council stating alleged human rights violations of indigenous peoples around the world. In the US, the report includes the plan to violate sacred San Francisco Peaks with snow made from wastewater. The report also includes the case of imprisoned Leonard Peltier and the protection of sacred Sogorea Te (Glen Cove in Calif.) The international cases of human rights abuses include the Wixarika (Huicholes) in Mexico struggling to protect their sacred lands from mining, along with cases from indigenous peoples in Guatemala, Chile, Israel, Ethiopia, Costa Rica, Malaysia and Thailand, in Anaya’s Aug. 22 report.

Anaya urged the US to review the need to protect sacred San Francisco Peaks from the plan to use recycled wastewater for snowmaking by the private corporation Arizona Snowbowl. Further, Anaya urged the US to carry out consultation with American Indian Nations as required by US law and in accordance with international human rights obligations.

Anaya, pointing out the sacred nature of San Francisco Peaks to area Indian Nations, said, “To them, the sacredness of the San Francisco Peaks depends on the purity of the water and plant life in the area, which allegedly will be contaminated if wastewater is introduced into the Peaks through the planned artificial snowmaking.”

Anaya states San Francisco Peaks is sacred to 13 area American Indian Nations and points out the specifics of the connections of Hopi and Navajo to the sacred mountain.

In his recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council, Anaya said the US should give serious consideration to suspending the permit for the Arizona Snowbowl.

“In this connection, the Government should reinitiate or continue consultations with the tribes whose religions practices are affected by the ski operations on the San Francisco Peaks and endeavor to reach agreement with them on the development of the ski area. The Government should give serious consideration to suspending the permit for the modifications of Snowbowl until such agreement can be achieved or until, in the absence of such an agreement, a written determination is made by a competent government authority that the final decision about the ski area modifications is in accordance with the United States’ international human rights obligations.”

Annex X United States of America: Situation of the Native Americans in relation to artificial snowmaking from recycled wastewater in the San Francisco Peaks USA 1/2011

1. In a communication of 10 January 2011, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, called the attention of the Government of the United States of America to information received relating to the proposed use of recycled wastewater for a commercial ski operation the San Francisco Peaks (or the “Peaks”), a mountainous area that is sacred to several Native American tribes. The full text of this communication can be accessed from the electronic version of the joint communications report (A/HRC/18/51), which is available on the web site of the Human Rights Council. In his communication the Special Rapporteur requested a response within 60 days. He regrets that there is no record of a response in the files of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the time of finalization of this report. In the absence of a response, the Special Rapporteur developed the observations below, which include an evaluation of the situation and recommendations to the Government of the United States. These observations were transmitted to the government on 6 July 2011.

Background
2. The San Francisco Peaks are located north of the city of Flagstaff, Arizona within land that is administered by the United States Forest Service as part of the Coconino National Forest. According to information received, the Arizona Snowbowl Resort Limited Partnership (“Snowbowl”) owns and operates a commercial ski operation in the western flank of the San Francisco Peaks, under a 777-acre special use permit issued by the Forest Service. In 2002 Snowbowl filed an application for expansion of its facilities, including a request for approval to make snow from treated sewage effluent. In February 2005, the Forest Service issued its Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision approving the proposed artificial snowmaking from recycled waste wastewater, the construction of a pipeline from Flagstaff to carry the treated effluent from Flagstaff and improvement of guest service facilities. Several Native American tribes and organizations have vigorously opposed the Forest Service’s decision. To them, according to sources, the sacredness of the San Francisco Peaks depends on the purity of the water and plant life in the area, which allegedly will be contaminated if wastewater is introduced into the Peaks through the planned artificial snowmaking. However, their federal court lawsuit to challenge the approval of artificial snowmaking on, inter alia, religious freedom grounds was unsuccessful. 1

Observations of the Special Rapporteur
3. On the basis of information he has received and gathered on this situation, which he considers to be in material respects undisputed, the Special Rapporteur offers the following 1 See Navajo Nation v. United States Forest Service, 535 F.3d 1058 (9th Cir. 2008), cert. denied, 129 S.Ct. 2763 (2009). A/HRC/18/35/Add.1 44 observations, in the hope that they will serve to promote appropriate action by the United States to address the human rights matters raised.

4. The extensive documentation by the Government and federal courts in relevant proceedings makes clear that the San Francisco Peaks are sacred to several Native American tribes, and that the presence of the ski operation and now the initiative to make artificial snow from recycled wastewater on the Peaks offend the religious beliefs and practices of members of these tribes. Apart from the provisions of domestic law that have been applied by the courts to examine this situation, international standards, including those based on human rights treaties to which the United States is a party to and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, require adequate consultation and close scrutiny for any action that affects the sacred sites and religious practices of indigenous peoples. The United States should engage in a comprehensive review of its relevant policies and actions to ensure that they are in compliance with these international standards in relation to the San Francisco Peaks and other sacred sites of Native Americans, and should take appropriate remedial action. In the paragraphs below, the Special Rapporteur elaborates upon these points. The effects of the planned snowmaking on Native American religion

5. The Special Rapporteur is aware that the development of the Snowbowl ski area and the recent plans for expanding its facilities, including for artificial snowmaking with recycled wastewater, have proceeded with extensive examination and documentation by the Government and federal courts of the impacts on Native American culture and religion. Required environmental impact studies and the legal challenges to the federal permits for Snowbowl’s expansion on the San Francisco Peaks have prompted this examination and documentation, which make abundantly clear the sacred character of the Peaks to the tribes, the affront on their religious beliefs and the tribes’ opposition to the planned snowmaking.

6. The Final Environmental Impact Statement compiled by the U.S. Forest Service to assess the proposal for artificial snowmaking and other additions to Snowbowl’s operations on the Peaks included the following observations: The San Francisco Peaks are sacred to at least 13 formally recognized tribes that are still actively using the Peaks in cultural, historic, and religious contexts. A central underlying concept to all tribes for whom the Peaks are especially important is the recognition that the San Francisco Peaks are a source of water in the form of rain, springs, and snow. It is believed that the Peaks were put there for the people and it is therefore the peoples’ duty to protect it for the benefit of the world… [N]ine
significant qualities… characterize the Peaks for the tribes.

These qualities include:

• They are the abode of deities and other spirit beings.
• They are the focus of prayers and songs whereby humans communicate with the supernatural.
• They contain shrines and other places where ceremonies and prayers are performed.
• They are the source of water.
• They are the source of soil, plant, and animal resources that are used for ceremonial and traditional purposes.
• They mark the boundaries of traditional or ancestral lands.
• They form a calendar that is used to delineate and recognize the ceremonial season. A/HRC/18/35/Add.1 45
• They contain places that relate to legends and stories concerning the origins, clans, traditions, and ceremonies of various Southwestern tribes.
• They contain sites and places that are significant in the history and culture of various tribes.

Two examples of the cultural significance of the San Francisco Peaks are the Hopi and Navajo peoples’ religious and spiritual connections to the Peaks, as discussed below.

Hopi

Hopi clans migrated through the San Francisco Peaks (called Nuvatukyaovi, “High Place of Snow”), made settlements nearby, and placed shrines on the Peaks. All of the religious ceremonies focus on Nuvatukyaovi and demonstrate the sacred relationship of the Peaks to the Hopi people. The history of clan migrations through the area continue to be related, discussed, and passed on from generation to generation. The Peaks contain clan and society shrines, and gathering areas for medicinal and religious use. Hopi religious leaders visit the Peaks annually. The San Francisco Peaks are the spiritual essence of what Hopis consider the most sacred landscapes in Hopi religion. They are the spiritual home of the Katsinam, significant religious beings that all Hopis believe in, and are therefore, sacred. The ceremonies associated with the Peaks, the plants and herbs gathered on the Peaks, and the shrines and ancestral dwellings located in the vicinity of the Peaks are of central importance to the religious beliefs and traditions that are the core of Hopi culture….

Navajo
The Navajo people believe that the Creator placed them on land between four sacred mountains: Blanca Peak in Colorado, Mount Taylor in New Mexico, the San Francisco Peaks in Arizona, and Hesperus Peak in Colorado. According to their own
history, the Navajos have always lived between these mountains. Each of the four mountains is associated with a cardinal direction, symbolizing the boundaries of the Navajo homeland. For the Navajo, the Peaks are the sacred mountain of the west, Doko’oo’sliid, “Shining on Top,” a key boundary marker and a place where medicine men collect soil for their medicine bundles and herbs for healing ceremonies. Navajo traditions tell that San Francisco Peak was adorned with Diichilí, Abalone Shell, Black Clouds, Male Rain, and all animals, besides being the home of Haashch’éélt’i’í (Talking God), Naada’algaii ‘Ashkii (White Corn Boy), and Naadá ‘Altsoii ‘At’ééd (Yellow Corn Girl). The sacred name of the Peaks is Diichilí Dzil – (Abalone Shell Mountain). The Navajo people have been instructed by the Creator never to leave their sacred homeland. Dook’o’osliid and the other three sacred mountains are the source of curing powers. They are perceived as a single unit, such as the wall of a hogan, or as a particular time of a single day. Dook’o’osliid is seen as a wall made of abalone shell and stone, with mixed yellow and white bands….

Environmental Consequences
The 1975 Hopi Tribal Resolution noted that there are numerous medicinal herbs and other plants at several levels of the Peaks that are used to treat the ailments of the Hopi people. The Forest Service is unaware of any plants or other natural resource material used by the Hopi within the Snowbowl … area; however, the addition of new trails, increased parking, and the potential for additional annual visitation within the … area and the San Francisco Peak themselves causes concern among the Hopi and other tribes that their areas of traditional use would be impacted. Specifically, A/HRC/18/35/Add.1 46 the Hopi make pilgrimages to shrines and use the Peaks for religious reasons such as gathering evergreens and herbs and delivering prayer feathers. Although the reclaimed water proposed for use in snowmaking fully meets both the Federal and Arizona state water quality standards, it is believed that trace levels of unregulated residual constituents within reclaimed water (e.g., pathogens, pharmaceuticals, hormones, etc.) could negatively impact the spiritual and medicinal purity of resident flora on the Peaks. Several specific concerns have been raised about the impact of snowmaking on the spiritual values of the Peaks.

An additional concern is that some of the reclaimed water once passed through hospitals or mortuaries could carry the spirits of the dead with it. Those spirits, as part of the water draining from the Peaks, would then infiltrate plants, thus affecting their ritual purity.

From both a Hopi and Navajo perspective, any plants that would come into contact with reclaimed water would be contaminated for medicinal purposes, as well as for use in ceremonies needed to perpetuate their cultural values…. The Hopi believe that the Katsinam are responsible for moisture and that the installation of snowmaking technology within the SUP [special use permit] area would alter the natural processes of the San Francisco Peaks and the responsibilities of the Katsinam.

The Hopi, Navajo, and other tribes have existed in the region of the San Francisco Peaks for thousands of years and have developed their cultures and religious institutions around the natural and cultural landscape of the San Francisco Peaks. Traditions, responsibilities, and beliefs that delineate who they are as a people, and as a culture, are based on conducting ritual ceremonies they are obligated to perform as keepers of the land. These obligatory activities focus on the Peaks, which are a physical and spiritual microcosm of their cultures, beliefs, and values. Snowmaking and expansion of facilities, especially the use of reclaimed water, would contaminate the natural resources needed to perform the required ceremonies that have been, and continue to be, the basis for the cultural identity for many of these tribes. 2

7. The records of the proceedings in federal court litigation concerning Snowbowl’s ski operations on the San Francisco Peaks reinforce the above assessment of the sacred character of the Peaks, and of the effects on Native American religion of the planned snowmaking and other modifications, on top of the effects of the existing ski facilities. 3 Even while holding that the Government’s approval of the Snowbowl modifications did not violate federal law, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, acknowledged the sacred character of the San Francisco Peaks and that “[t]o the [tribes], the [presence of recycled wastewater] will desecrate a sacred mountain and will decrease the spiritual fulfillment they get from practicing their religion on the mountain”. 4

8. Despite such acknowledgment, the federal appellate court held that this impact on religion is not of the kind that could lead to finding a violation of the federal Religious 2 USDA Forest Service, Arizona Snowbowl Facilities Improvements Final Environmental Impact Statement, Vol. 1 (2005), pp. 3-7 to 3-11, 3-16 to 3-18 (hereinafter “FEIS”). 3 See Navajo Nation v. United States Forest Service, 408 F. Supp. 2d 866 (D. Ariz., 2006), aff’d in part and rev’d in part, 479 F.3 1024 (9th Cir. 2008); aff’d on rehearing, 535 F.3d 1058 (9th Cir. 2008), cert. denied, 129 S.Ct. 2763 (2009); Wilson v. Block, 708 F.2d 735 (D.C. Court of Appeals, 1983), cert. denied 463 U.S. 958 (1983). 4 Navajo Nation v. United States Forest Service, 535 F. 3d 1058, 1070 (9th Cir. 2008) (en banc), cert. denied, 129 S.Ct. 2763 (2009). A/HRC/18/35/Add.1 47 Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). For the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, RFRA only protects against government action that actively coerces Native American religious practitioners into violating their religious beliefs or that penalizes their religious activity with loss or threat loss of government benefits. Along with finding the absence of such conditions, the court pointed to the lower court determination that in fact no plants or religious shrines would be physically affected by the snowmaking and that practitioners would continue to have access to the mountain, including the ski area, to conduct religious activities. 5 Neither the appellate nor lower court questioned, however, that for Native American religious practitioners from several tribes, snowmaking with recycled wastewater in Snowbowl would be a desecration of a sacred mountain, even if federal and state environmental standards are met and they continue to have access to the mountain along with skiers.

9. It is not the purpose of the Special Rapporteur to review or challenge the application of domestic law by the United States judicial system. Rather, the Special Rapporteur means to draw attention to the relevant international standards that bind the United States and that should guide action by Government actors, even when certain decisions may be permissible under domestic law. The Special Rapporteur respectfully reminds the United States that the judicial applications and interpretations of the legal protections for Native American religion available under domestic law do not pose any legal barrier to Government action in accordance with a higher standard. The lack of indigenous agreement or consent to artificial snowmaking on a sacred mountain

10. In its Record of Decision to permit snowmaking from recycled wastewater and other modifications to the ski operation on the San Francisco Peaks, the United States Forest Service acknowledged that “[o]ver the years the tribes have continued to state their opposition to development at Snowbowl”, as they did in 1979 when the Forest Service was considering the option of closing down the ski operation but decided instead to allow it to expand. 6 The Forest Service reported extensive consultations with the tribes about the most recent plans for Snowbowl enhancements. “In all 200 phone calls were made, 41 meetings were held, and 245 letters were sent to Tribal officials, tribal historic preservation offices, traditional tribal leaders/practitioners, and the general tribal public”. 7

11. The Forest Service confirms that “[a]s with the decision in 1979, the proposal to improve the facilities at the Snowbowl has been met with adamant opposition from the tribes, even though there have been changes in laws, improvements in working relationships and successes in working together on other projects …”. 8 Despite this adamant opposition by the tribes based on their religious practices and beliefs, the Forest Service decided to approve the artificial snowmaking and other ski area modifications, bringing into question the United States’ adherence to international standards to which it has expressed its commitment. Article 19 of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provides: States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free 5 See Ibid., pp. 1063, 1070. 6 USDA Forest Service, Record of Decision – Arizona Snowbowl Facilities Improvements Final Environmental Impact Statement and Forest Management Plan #21 (February 2005), p.3 (hereinafter “FEIS-Record of Decision”). 7 Ibid., p. 9. 8 Ibid., p. 3. A/HRC/18/35/Add.1 48 prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing any legislative measure that affects them.

12. This standard of consultation and consent is a corollary of the right to self determination and the cultural rights of minorities that are affirmed, respectively, in articles 1 and 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as manifested by the jurisprudence of the Human Rights Committee. 9 Additionally, it is instrumental to implementing the principles of non-discrimination found in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, as instructed by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). 10 In its General Recommendation 23, CERD calls upon State parties to “[e]nsure that members of indigenous peoples have equal rights in respect of effective participation in public life and that no decisions directly relating to their rights and interests are taken without their informed consent …”. 11

13. Under the cited human rights treaties, to which the United States is a party, and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which the United States has endorsed, consultations should take place with the objective of achieving agreement or consent by indigenous peoples to decisions that may directly affect them in significant ways, such as decisions affecting their sacred sites. Simply providing indigenous peoples with information about a proposed decision and gathering and taking into account their points of view is not sufficient in this context. Consultation must occur through procedures of dialogue aimed at arriving at a consensus. 12

14. It is far from clear that the consultations with the tribes about the artificial snowmaking and other ski area modifications were undertaken through procedures involving negotiations toward an agreed-upon outcome. It appears instead that the
consultations were more in the nature of dissemination of information about the Snowbowl development plans and gathering of views about those plans, within a process of government decision making that did not depend on agreement or consent on the part of the tribes. 13 In any case, it is beyond question that the tribes have not agreed or consented to the
Snowbowl modifications; indeed they have actively opposed them.

15. In the absence of consent by indigenous peoples to decisions that affect them, States should act with great caution. At a minimum, States should ensure that any such decision does not infringe indigenous peoples’ internationally-protected collective or individual rights, including the right to maintain and practice religion in relation to sacred sites. It is 9 See Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, James Anaya, A/HRC/12/34 (15 July 2009), paras. 40- 41 (hereinafter “2009 annual report of the Special Rapporteur”). 10 Ibid., para. 40. 11 A/52/18, annex V at para. 4(d). 12 For a discussion of the duty of States to consult with indigenous peoples affecting them, see 2009 annual report of the Special Rapporteur, supra, paras. 36-74. 13 The Forest Service did develop a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) related to adverse effects of the proposed ski area modifications, as a result of the nomination of the San Francisco Peaks for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places, and it invited the tribes to sign the MOA as concurring parties. The Forest Service reported that four of the affected tribes did sign, while the others (including Navajo and Hopi) declined to do so or did not respond. FEIS-Record of Decision, pp. 26-27. The MOA does not embody or propose agreement to the ski area modifications but rather provides for a series of measures calculated to mitigate adverse effects of the development of the ski area and to protect the cultural values associated with the San Francisco Peaks. See FEIS, Appendix D. While most of the affected tribes did not sign the MOA, it is not clear that any of them were involved in developing its terms, other than indirectly through the consultations reported by the Forest Service. A/HRC/18/35/Add.1 49 therefore necessary in this case to assess the nature of the right of Native Americans to practice their religious traditions under international human rights standards and the scope of permissible restriction of the right. International standards protecting the right of Native Americans to maintain and practice their religious traditions

16. Under relevant sources of international law, the United States has a duty to respect and protect Native American religion, a duty that goes beyond not coercing or penalizing Native American religious practitioners. The right of indigenous peoples to maintain and practice their distinctive religions, including in relation to sacred areas, is protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Further, it is recognized specifically by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which provides an authoritative statement of standards that States should follow in keeping with their obligations under these and other human rights treaties, as well as under the human rights clauses of the United Nations Charter. Any restriction on the right of indigenous peoples to maintain and practice their religious traditions, not just those involving active coercion or penalties, is subject to the most exacting scrutiny under these international instruments.

17. The right to practice or manifest religion or belief is protected under Article 18(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states that “[e]veryone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion [which includes] freedom … either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.” State parties have a duty to take the measures necessary to ensure the effective enjoyment of this and other rights recognized the Covenant (Art. 2(2)). In its Article 27, which is also of relevance to indigenous peoples, the Covenant gives special consideration to the rights of minorities whose cultural and religious traditions differ from those of the majority. Article 27 states, “Persons belonging to minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own
religion …”. In its interpretation of State parties’ obligations under Article 27, the Human Rights Committee, in its General Comment 23 affirmed that “positive measures by States may also be necessary to protect the identity of a minority and the rights of its members to enjoy and develop their culture and language and to practise their religion, in community with other members of the group”. 14

18. Article 5 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination provides that State parties are to “guarantee the right of everyone … to equality before the law, notably in the enjoyment of …[t]he right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.” In interpreting and applying this Convention, CERD has observed the need to take into account the particular characteristics of groups in order to achieving effective equality in the enjoyment of their human rights. Otherwise, “[t]o treat in an equal manner persons or groups whose situations are objectively different will constitute discrimination in effect, as will the unequal treatment of persons whose situations are objectively the same.” 15 Accordingly, in its General Recommendation 23, CERD has noted the distinctive characteristics of indigenous peoples in light of their histories and cultures, and has called upon States to take particular measures to protect their rights, including 14 CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.5, para. 6(2). 15 CERD General Recommendation 32: Special Measures, para. 8. A/HRC/18 35/Add.1 50 measures to “[e]nsure that indigenous communities can exercise their rights to practise and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs …”. 16

19. The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which reinforces the call to ensure for indigenous peoples the enjoyment of fundamental human rights historically denied to them, for its part affirms that “[i]ndigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practice, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies; the rights to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites” (Art. 12). Additionally, Article 25 of the Declaration provides that indigenous peoples’ right to “maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used lands, territories … and to uphold their responsibilities to future generations in this regard.” The Declaration thus recognizes that, for indigenous peoples, the ability to effectively practice and manifest their religion and beliefs depends many times on the protection of and access to sites of particular religious
and cultural significance. Consequently, the duty of States to ensure on an equal basis the right to the free exercise of religion includes that duty to adopt safeguards for the exercise of indigenous religious traditions in connection with sacred sites. Permissible limitations on the right to maintain and practice religion

20. The international law duty of States to ensure the exercise by indigenous peoples of their religious traditions extends to safeguarding against any meaningful limitations to that exercise, not just limitations that entail coercion to act against one’s religious beliefs or penalties for doing so. Under Article 18(3) of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, “Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.” With this standard there is no qualification on the kind of limitation or restriction that must undergo examination for justification on the basis of the stated purposes. Under the plain language of Article 18 of the Covenant, any clearly observable limitation that makes for a meaningful restriction on the exercise of religion is subject to scrutiny.

21. The process of snowmaking from reclaimed sewage water on the San Francisco Peaks undoubtedly constitutes a palpable limitation on religious freedom and belief, as clearly indicated by the U.S. Forest Service’s Final Environmental Impact Statement. This limitation exists even assuming minimal physical environmental degradation as a result of the snowmaking. It bears remembering that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals acknowledged that the effect of the proposed use of reclaimed wastewater would constitute a desecration of the affected indigenous peoples’ religion. 17 The religious freedom at stake is not simply about maintaining ceremonial or medicinal plants free from adverse physical environmental conditions or about physical access to shrines within the Peaks. More comprehensively, it is about the integrity of entire religious belief systems and the critical place of the Peaks and its myriad qualities within those belief systems. Is the limitation on Native American religion necessary to achieve a valid public purpose or protect the human rights of others?

22. It may be concluded without much difficulty that the limitation on Native American religion resulting from the decision of the U.S. Forest Service to permit the artificial snowmaking is “prescribed by law”, in the sense that it is pursuant to the Forest Service’s authority and legally prescribed procedures for managing the lands around the San 16 CERD/C/51/Misc.13/Rev.4, para. 4(d)(e)). 17 See Navajo Nation, 535 F. 3d at 1070. A/HRC/18/35/Add.1 51 Francisco Peaks. The question remains, however, whether the limitation from that decision is “necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others”, as stipulated by Article 18(3) of the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights. This question in turn entails two inquires: first, whether an adequate purpose is being pursued and, second, whether the limitation on Native American religion is necessary to achieve that purpose.

23. As to the first question, whether there is a sufficient purpose within the terms of article 18(3) of the Covenant, the Human Rights Committee in its General Recommendation 22 has explained that this provision “is to be strictly interpreted:
restrictions are not allowed on grounds not specified there… Limitations may be applied only for those purposes for which they were prescribed”. 18 It is far from apparent how the decision to permit snowmaking by a private recreational ski facility is in furtherance of one of the specified public purposes – public safety, order, health or morals – or the human
rights of others. In its Record of Decision on the artificial snowmaking and other modifications to the ski area, the Forest Service explained that “[d]ownhill skiing is an important component of the recreation opportunities offered by National Forests, and the Forest Service and the ski industry have forged a partnership to provide recreational opportunities on [National Forest Service] lands.” 19 In the view of the Forest Service, “the overall benefits of providing stable winter recreational opportunities for the public and the community… merits [the] selection” of the proposed use of recycled wastewater for snowmaking operations. 20 In this connection, the Forest Service considered the financial viability of Snowbowl to be a factor: “Snowbowl’s ability to maintain or improve its current level of service and endure the business conditions caused by unreliable snowfall is questionable… [Therefore] the installation and operation of snowmaking infrastructure… will enable a reliable and consistent operating season, thereby helping to stabilize the Snowbowl’s viability”. 21

24. Even assuming that a sufficient purpose could be discerned, it is left to be determined whether the limitation on religion arising from the artificial snowmaking is necessary for that purpose, necessity being in significant part a function of proportionality. As stated by the Human Rights Committee, “[l]imitations … must be directly related and proportionate to the specific need on which they are predicated”. 22 An assessment of necessity and proportionality requires examination of the nature and severity of the limitation on religion, in relation to the identified valid purpose and the manner in which
the purpose is being pursued. In this respect as well, it is far from readily apparent how the limitation on Native American religion imposed by the planned snowmaking can be justified.

25. In determining necessity and proportionality, there must be due regard for the significance of the San Francisco Peaks in the religious traditions of the tribes, the desecration that the artificial snowmaking signifies, and the cumulative effect of that desecration. The artificial snowmaking simply builds on what already was an affront to religious sensibilities: the installation of the ski area in the first place and its gradual expansion. In its Final Environmental Impact Statement, the Forest Service noted the past, present and potential future cumulative effects of the ski operation, with its expansion and
upgrades, on the cultural resources in the area. 23 The cumulative effects on Native 18 CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.4, para. 8.
19 FEIS-Record of Decision, p. 23. 20 Ibid. 21 Ibid., p. 24. 22 CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.4, para. 8. 23 FEIS, supra, at 3-25.
A/HRC/18/35/Add.1 52 American religion of the expansions and upgrades of the ski operation, and not just the added effects of the snowmaking, must be found necessary and proportionate in relation to some sufficient purpose. It is highly questionable that the effects on Native American religion can be justified under a reasonable assessment of necessity and proportionality, if the purpose behind the Government decision to permit the enhancements to the ski operation is none other than to promote recreation.

Recommendations
26. On the basis of the foregoing, the Special Rapporteur respectfully recommends that the United States Government engage in a comprehensive review of its relevant policies and actions to ensure that they are in compliance with international standards in relation to the San Francisco Peaks and other Native American sacred sites, and that it take appropriate remedial action.

27. In this connection, the Government should reinitiate or continue consultations with the tribes whose religions practices are affected by the ski operations on the San Francisco Peaks and endeavor to reach agreement with them on the development of the ski area. The Government should give serious consideration to suspending the permit for the modifications of Snowbowl until such agreement can be achieved or until, in the absence of such an agreement, a written determination is made by a competent government authority that the final decision about the ski area modifications is in accordance with the United States’ international human rights obligations.

28. The Special Rapporteur wishes to stress the need to ensure that actions or decisions by Government agencies are in accordance with, not just domestic law, but also international standards that protect the right of Native American to practice and maintain their religious traditions. The Special Rapporteur is aware of existing government programs account their religious traditions in government decision-making with respect to sacred sites. The Special Rapporteur urges the Government to build on these programs and policies to conform to international standards and by doing so to establish a good practice and become a world leader that it can in protecting the rights of indigenous peoples.

9/7/2011 CENSORED NEWS: Rigoberta Menchu and Nobel Peace Laureates: Halt tar sands

9/7/2011 CENSORED NEWS: Rigoberta Menchu and Nobel Peace Laureates: Halt tar sands: Nobel Peace Laureates Dalai Lama, Rigoberta Menchu and Desmund Tutu among nine urging: Halt tar sands by Brenda Norrell: His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and Nobel Peace Laureates Rigoberta Menchu of Guatemala and Archbishop Desmund Tutu of South Africa, joined six other Nobel Peace Laureates urging President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, an environmental disaster in the making.

The Nobel Peace Laureates recognized those arrested during the past two weeks of sit-ins at the White House. The 1,252 arrested included members of the Indigenous Environmental Network arrested with author and activist Naomi Klein. First Nations from Canada arrested included actress Tantoo Cardinal, Cree, from Alberta, Canada, where tar sands mining is already destroying the homelands of First Nations.

Debra White Plume, Owe Aku, Bring Back the Way, Lakota grandmother and activist from Oglala land in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, was arrested in the Indigenous delegation. After being released from jail, White Plume, along with Kandi Mossett of the Indigenous Environmental Network, met with US State Department official Daniel A. Clune, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environmental and Scientific Affairs. There they urged the State Department to consult at high levels with Native leaders and to consider Section 106 (tribal consultations) in line with free, prior and informed consent as set forth in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Mossett has lost two young friends to deaths because of the heavy oil and gas traffic that the boom industry has brought to her homeland of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara in North Dakota. Mossett sent a message to President Obama, to look her in the eyes and listen to her story before approving the tarsands pipeline. During the arrests in front of the White House, Obama did not acknowledge or address the protesters, which included Dene Chief Bill Erasmus from Yellowknife, Canada.

The Nobel Peace Laureates reminded Obama of his own promise for creating a clean energy economy. The Nobel Peace Laureates’ statement comes as another dirty war was waged over the dirty tar sands. In the dirty war of deceptive media, a tarsands campaign was waged on the Oprah Winfrey Network by the so-called “Ethical Oil” campaign which attempts to muddy the truth about the tarsands. This dirty media campaign promotes the tarsands by muddying the water about human rights. A counter-campaign called for a boycott of the Oprah Winfrey Network on Wednesday until the “Ethical Oil” advertisements cease.

The Nobel Peace Laureates point out the immense Ogallala aquifer in the Great Plains, in the heartland of the United States, which the proposed tarsands pipeline would cross, if approved. Those lands, between Alberta, Canada and Texas, include Indian country. The highly corrosive tarsands oil is likely to result in a pipeline spill and contaminate the region’s drinking water in the Ogallala aquifer. The danger to this water source brought Nebraska farmers to the White House where they were arrested during the past two weeks.

Dear President Obama,

We—a group of Nobel Peace Laureates—are writing today to ask you to do the right thing for our environment and reject the proposal to build the Keystone XL, a 1700-mile pipeline that would stretch from Canada’s Alberta tar sands to the Texas Gulf Coast.

It is your decision to make.

The night you were nominated for president, you told the world that under your leadership—and working together—the rise of the oceans will begin to slow and the planet will begin to heal. You spoke of creating a clean energy economy. This is a critical moment to make good on that pledge, and make a lasting contribution to the health and well being of everyone of this planet.

In asking you to make this decision, we recognize the more than 1200 Americans who risked arrest to protest in front of the White House between August 20th and September 3rd. These brave individuals have spoken movingly about experiencing the power of nonviolence in facing authority. They represent millions of people whose lives and livelihoods will be affected by construction and operation of the pipeline in Alberta, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

All along its prospective route, the pipeline endangers farms, wildlife and precious water aquifers—including the Ogallala Aquifer, the US’ main source of freshwater for America’s heartland. We are aware that Nebraska’s Governor Dave Heineman—as well as two Nebraska Senators—has urged you to reconsider the pathway of the pipeline. In his letter to you he clearly stated his concern about the threat to this crucial water source for Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers. The aquifer supplies drinking water to two million people in Nebraska and seven other states. We know that another pipeline that covers some of the same route as the proposed pipeline, and built by the same company proposing to build Keystone XL, already leaked 14 times over its first year of operation. Like you, we understand that strip-mining and drilling tar sands from under Alberta’s Boreal forests and then transporting thousands of barrels of oil a day from Canada through to Texas will not only hurt people in the US—but will also endanger the entire planet. After the oil fields of Saudi Arabia, the full development of the Alberta tar sands will create the world’s second largest potential source of global warming gases. As NASA climatologist James Hansen has said, this is “essentially game over for the climate.”

There is a better way.

Your rejection of the pipeline provides a tremendous opportunity to begin transition away from our dependence on oil, coal and gas and instead increase investments in renewable energies and energy efficiency.

We urge you to say ‘no’ to the plan proposed by the Canadian-based company TransCanada to build the Keystone XL, and to turn your attention back to supporting renewable sources of energy and clean transportation solutions. This will be your legacy to Americans and the global community: energy that sustains the lives and livelihoods of future generations.

Sincerely,
Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate (1976) – Ireland
Betty Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate (1976) – Ireland
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Nobel Peace Laureate (1980) – Argentina
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Laureate (1984) – South Africa
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Nobel Peace Laureate (1989) – Tibet
Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Nobel Peace Laureate (1992) – Guatemala
José Ramos-Horta, Nobel Peace Laureate (1996) – East Timor
Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate (1997) – USA
Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Laureate (2003) – Iran

9/9/2011 CENSORED NEWS: Peru: New Indigenous Law as Wikileaks Exposes US Spying and Paranoia

9/9/2011 CENSORED NEWS: Peru: New Indigenous Law as Wikileaks Exposes US Spying and Paranoia – Peru passes new indigenous law, as an unredacted cable released by Wikileaks reveals US spying and US paranoia in Peru By Brenda Norrell: Photo by Sofia Jarrin: Miguel Palacin Quispe, Coordinador, CAO, on left. Peru’s new indigenous law will ensure “free, prior and informed consent,” as stated in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The law was signed this week by Peru’s president as Wikileaks published unredacted versions of US diplomatic cables. Those cables reveal the US spying on Indigenous activists in Peru and that the US feared Indigenous Peoples reclaiming their lands and halting mining.

The cables reveal the US paranoia over the popularity of Bolivian President Evo Morales in the Andes. The unredacted cables include spying on Peru’s Andean leader Miguel Palacin, who joined with American Indian and First Nations activists at the climate summits in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and Cancun, Mexico, in 2010.

Wikileaks cables hold special meaning this week as Peru enacts its new indigenous law, bringing to reality what the US Embassy in Peru feared most two years ago, and what Palacin worked hard to achieve. The cable below is dated June 26, 2009, and was written by James Nealon. Nealon served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Peru, 2007-2010, before transferring to the US Embassy in Ottawa on August 14, 2010.

Peru’s new president, Ollanta Humala, signed into law a measure this week requiring that indigenous groups are consulted prior to any mining, logging, or oil and gas projects on their land, Mongabay News reported.

“What we want to do with this law is have the voice of indigenous people be heard, and have them treated like citizens, not little children who are not consulted about anything,” President Humala said.

The indigenous organization, AIDESEP, applauded the new legislation prior. However, it stated that it was only a first step. “We mustn’t fall into false triumphalism. It is now up to the government to form a national indigenous organization […] that will uphold strict compliance with this new law,” the group said in a statement.

In the Wikileaks cables, the US revealed its furor over the popularity of Bolivian President Evo Morales, and the momentum Morales and indigenous activists were gaining in Peru, in a US diplomatic cable from Peru, titled, “Morales is our President.”

It is a telling cable of US spying and paranoia over the role of Indigenous Peoples protecting their lands from mining and colonialism.

The US Embassy describes the Indigenous Peoples defending their lands in Peru as “anti-system radicals.” The US Embassy is especially concerned over protests which urged stopping a “planned hydroelectric project, repealing a new water law and ending concessions relating to mining and other extractive industries.”

The US Embassy’s summary states, “Its economic success of recent years notwithstanding, Peru remains fertile terrain for anti-system radicals, with persistent endemic poverty and social inequality, the absence of the state from large swaths of national territory, and clumsy, sometimes jarring public action when the state does intervene. But if these kinds of structural factors have played a role in recent protests (refs), so has a radical anti-system political project that is seeking to take political advantage of them to undermine Peru’s progress, weaken the government and lay the groundwork for a more systematic assault on the pro-growth model. Public and private statements by the diverse and not necessarily unified leaders of the anti-system movement paint a compelling portrait of their real aims, which can be summarized in the words of one Peruvian indigenous leader that “Evo Morales is our President.” Foreign participation in this anti-system movement, including from Bolivia, is real but maybe not as central as some analysts maintain.”

The cable continues, “Public and private statements by the diverse and not necessarily unified leaders of the anti-system movement — who are many, of different stripes and often local in their immediate focus — paint a compelling picture of their real aims. Miguel Palacin, who leads a pan-Andean indigenous group based in Lima, is one of the movement’s leading figures, organizing parallel anti-summits (during the Peru-based EU-LAC and APEC events of 2008) and painstakingly building links to bring the disorderly diversity of the anti-system opposition under one banner. Tellingly, Palacin’s office displays Bolivian flags and a presidential portrait of Evo Morales. Palacin recently told us he sees Bolivia as a model for Peru, and that indigenous people consider Morales “our president.” Palacin said his organization was working to repeal the remaining contentious legislative decrees (refs) and to press for the overhaul of Garcia’s cabinet. In the longer term, Palacin said his group aimed to procure property titles for all indigenous land (hinting that once this had occurred there would be no land left for private development), and ultimately to write a new constitution incorporating language from the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

Previously released cables from Bolivia and Peru have just been released in the unredacted form, with names of sources.

Read US Embassy cable from Peru: http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/06/09LIMA924.html

9/8/2011 CENSORED NEWS: Wikileaks: US feared Indigenous self-rule and land claims with UN Declaration

9/8/2011 CENSORED NEWS: Wikileaks: US feared Indigenous self-rule and land claims with UN Declaration: The United States feared, and fought, passage of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples By Brenda Norrell Photo by Michelle Cook, Navajo/Cochabamba, Bolivia, Climate Conference 2010 Wikileaks has exposed a US diplomatic cable revealing why the United States feared, and fought, the passage and implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The US reveals in this cable that its fears Indigenous Peoples will use the UN Declaration to expand self-government, sovereign rule, and initiate new land claims to ancestral lands. Further, the US is alarmed over the potential for Indigenous Peoples gaining control of renewable and non-renewable resources.

The US is alarmed over the right for Indigenous to be consulted on any law pertaining to them. This is now known as the “right to free, prior and informed consent,” as stated in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The cable is from the US Embassy in La Paz, Bolivia, dated Jan. 28, 2008.

“Although most indigenous leaders seem to view the UN Declaration as a ‘feel good’ document that will give them more inclusion in the public sector, some leaders are citing the Declaration in support of concrete aims like self-governance and control over land and resources,” states the US Embassy in La Paz, Bolivia.

“Post will watch for further developments, particularly with regards to property rights and potential sovereignty or self-rule issues.”

In previous US diplomatic cables exposed by Wikileaks, prior to its passage, the United States threatened Iceland about its relations with the US, if Iceland supported the UN Declaration. Further, other cables revealed that the US undertook an education campaign in an attempt to dissuade Ecuador from voting in favor of the UN Declaration.

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the UN General Assembly on Sept. 13, 2007. The United States, the last country in the world to signal support, gave provisional support in 2010. The US was preceded by Canada, which gave provisional support.

Wikileaks released the following US diplomatic cable on Sept. 1, 2011. The US Ambassador called it “Bolivia: Repercussions of UN DRIP.”

The cable is written by then US Ambassador Phillip Goldberg, President Bush’s choice, who arrived from Kosovo with questions rising about his role in ethnic cleansing. Goldberg’s role in Bolivia was short-lived. President Evo Morales expelled Goldberg in September of 2008, eight months after Goldberg wrote this cable.

8/27/2011 CENSORED NEWS: New Wikileaks: Forced Exiles of Native Americans and Palestinians

8/27/2011 CENSORED NEWS: New Wikileaks: Forced Exiles of Native Americans and Palestinians: While the US media censored the truth, the world was watching By Brenda Norrell: The release of thousands of Wikileaks cables includes the comparison of how the colonial United States government forcibly drove Native Americans from their homes, while Israel forcibly expels Palestinians from their homes. The new Wikileaks cables reveal that while the US media was censoring the truth, the world was watching. In a diplomatic cable from the US Embassy in Kuwait released Friday, dated June 21, 2004, the US Embassy in Kuwait provides this quote from the media:

¶3. “Journey Of Tears” Mohammed Musaed Al-Saleh wrote in independent Al-Qabas (6/19): “The way the United States was founded is identical to the way the Zionist entity was founded. In America, Native Americans were forcibly driven away from their homes. Israel in 2004 is doing the same thing by forcibly expelling Palestinians from the West Bank, east of Jerusalem and Gaza. According to author Muneer Al-Akesh, America’s idea of exchanging a nation and a culture with another, through forcible evacuation and unjustified explanations, is in fact Israel’s historical raison d’etre. While Sharon is in Palestine, Bush is in Iraq. There is no difference.”

It is the second cable released in the past few days where US Embassies refer to media quotes about the atrocities committed by the US government and the exile of Native Americans.

A second Wikileaks cable revives an article censored by Indian Country Today. While the newspaper censored an article stating that the war in Iraq is a continuation of the atrocities inflicted on American Indians — the truth was already known around the world in Turkey.

The US Embassy in Turkey quoted Omer Ozturkmen in 2004, in the Wikileaks cable: “The Iraqi people were expecting to watch Saddam’s trial on TV while the president of the US focused on his re-election bid. Now, the torture photos from Iraq have recalled for the American people the long forgotten atrocities faced by American Indians.”

It is an important fact that Turkey knew this truth at the beginning of the Iraq war, because in the United States, this fact was being censored.

Louise Benally of Big Mountain, Ariz., longtime Navajo resister of relocation, was among the most vocal from the beginning opposing the war in Iraq. When Benally compared the war in Iraq to the forced exile and imprisonment of Navajos on the Long Walk by the US Calvary, the newspaper Indian Country Today, where I served as a staff writer, censored Benally’s comments in 2005.

Pressed to publish a correction, the newspaper refused.

Here are the censored comments:

Navajos at Big Mountain resisting forced relocation view the 19th Century prison camp of Bosque Redondo and the war in Iraq as a continuum of U.S. government sponsored terror.

Louise Benally of Big Mountain remembered her great-grandfather and other Navajos driven from their beloved homeland by the U.S. Army on foot for hundreds of miles while witnessing the murder, rape and starvation of their family and friends.

“I think these poor children had gone through so much, but, yet they had the will to go on and live their lives. If it weren’t for that, we wouldn’t be here today.

“It makes me feel very sad and I apply this to the situation in Iraq. I wonder how the Native Americans in the combat zone feel about killing innocent lives.”

Looking at the faces of the Navajo and Apache children in the Bosque Redondo photo, Benally said, “I think the children in the picture look concerned and maybe confused. It makes me think of what the children in Iraq must be going through right now.

“The U.S. military first murders your people and destroys your way of life while stealing your culture, then forces you to learn their evil ways of lying and cheating,” Benally said.

We know now that not only were Benally’s comments censored at the time, but Native Americans and other peace activists were being stalked and spied on by law enforcement throughout the United States. The spy files of the Denver Police Department, made public, revealed that activists at Big Mountain were among those on the police watch list.

Meanwhile, in Turkey, the truth was known that when American Indians viewed torture photos in Iraq, they recalled the atrocities inflicted on Native Americans.

A US diplomatic cable in Turkey, dated May 21, 2004, states:

“The US is in Trouble in Iraq”

Omer Ozturkmen observed in the conservative Turkiye (5/21): “The fact is, US diplomacy was mistaken in planning for the post-war scenario in Iraq. The US could never imagine the kinds of problems they were going to face there. The Iraqi people were expecting to watch Saddam’s trial on TV while the president of the US focused on his re-election bid. Now, the torture photos from Iraq have recalled for the American people the long forgotten atrocities faced by American Indians. Let us see how the president will explain the loss of American lives in Iraq during his campaign. When put next to the torture the Iraqi people have suffered at the hands of the coalition, Saddam’s Halapja massacre looks mild by comparison. Those obscene photos are already being circulated among international terrorist groups to recruit fighters against the United States. The Bush Administration, which at one time put sacks over the heads of allied troops, now buries its own head to hide its shame. The US is paying the price for excluding Turkey in its policies in Eurasia. It looks that that price will continue to be paid.”
Reference id: 04ANKARA2881 Origin: Embassy Ankara Time: Fri, 21 May 2004 16:38 UTC
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

Finally, here are more of Benally’s comments from 2005:

Suffering and strength at Bosque Redondo
By Brenda Norrell
2005

BIG MOUNTAIN, Ariz. – Viewing a photo of Navajo children at Bosque Redondo for the first time, Louise Benally wondered which ones were her great-grandparents who endured the Long Walk to Fort Sumner, N.M. and suffered in the prison camp for four years.

”On my mother’s side they went: and my great-grandfather was just 5 years old. He had seen a lot of hard times, where parents and other relatives were killed,” Benally said.

”My grandma passed on three years ago – she was 116 years old. When she left, she would tell us that they did some healing ceremonies which were called ‘Without Songs.’ She would sometimes have me perform this one: ‘The Blacken Way.”’ She remembered her great-grandfather and other Navajos who were driven from their beloved homeland by the U.S. Army on foot for hundreds of miles while witnessing murders, rapes and starvation.

One-third of the 9,000 Navajo and Mescalero Apache who suffered at the prison camp from 1863 – ’68 succumbed to pneumonia, dysentery, starvation and exposure.

She also said that some Navajos who eluded capture secretly helped others. ”On my father’s side of the family, they didn’t go on this march. But, as supporters from the outside, they brought food in the night and other health supplies.”

Benally is among the Navajos who are resisting forced relocation from her home on Big Mountain. The Navajo descendants of Long Walk survivors at Big Mountain gained strength and fortitude from their ancestors for their 30-year struggle to remain on the land as protectors, she noted.

Benally pointed out that the so-called ”Navajo and Hopi land dispute” resulted from legal maneuvers, documented by Colorado professor Charles Wilkinson, to remove Navajos from the land to make way for the expansion of coal mining on Black Mesa.

8/27/2011 CENSORED NEWS New Wikileaks: UN: China scolded US treatment of Native Americans

8/27/2011 CENSORED NEWS New Wikileaks: UN: China scolded US treatment of Native Americans: US human rights abuses exposed by world leaders at the UN, previously censored, are revealed in new Wikileaks cable By Brenda Norrell: A new Wikileaks cable provides the scope of US human rights abuses in testimony by world leaders before the United Nations in 2007. Much of the information was censored by the US media at the time. World leaders described the human rights abuses of the United States, including secret torture centers, targeted assassinations, “people hunting” on the Mexican border and the use of biological weapons in Vietnam. China described the racism and xenophobia on the rise in the United States and the US violations of the rights of Native Americans and ethnic groups.

“China said the United States had turned a blind eye to China’s progress in human rights, but had failed to examine its own human rights record, citing the September 16 Blackwater security incident in Iraq. He stated that the United States has increased its monitoring and control of the Internet and suppressed anti-war expression and gatherings. He alleged that racism and xenophobia are on the rise in the United States, as are violations of the human rights of Native Americans and ethnic groups. He called on the United States to remember its own ‘bad and sad’ human rights record,” according to the US diplomatic cable.

The cable released yesterday, Friday, is from Dr. Zalmay Khalilzad, Permanent Representative to the UN. The cable is dated Nov. 15, 2007, seven months after Dr. Khalilzad began his UN position. Dr. Khalilzad was previously an Ambassador in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and served the Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld trio.

Dr. Khalilzad was the US Ambassador to Iraq from 2005 to 2007, after serving as the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, 2003 to 2005. Dr. Khalilzad headed the Bush-Cheney transition team for the Department of Defense and has been a Counselor to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, according to the US State Dept.

Here’s the US atrocities, in the United States’ own words:

Diplomatic Cable:
http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/11/07USUNNEWYORK1019.html

¶1. (U) Speaking Oct. 31 in the annual debate on promotion and protection of human rights in the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee, Ambassador Khalilzad emphasized the value the United States places on human rights, described the important role these rights play in building societies, cited examples of progress in human rights (Indonesia, Sierra Leone, Guatemala, Morocco and Lebanon) and addressed situations of human rights violations (Zimbabwe, Cuba, North Korea, Burma, Belarus, Iran and Syria). He noted U.S. concern for the situation of human rights in Russia and China. (Full text of Ambassador Khalilzad’s statement is available at www.usunnewyork.usmission.gov press releases/20071031 278.html).

¶2. (U) Several delegations responded to the U.S. statement. Iran’s representative regretted that the Third Committee is frequently misused to name and blame, which he said divides the group into two blocs, the claimants vs. the defendants. He noted that no country has a perfect record and pointed to Guantanamo, secret detention centers, mistreatment of migrants in the United States, Europe, and Canada, and the inhumane treatment of the Palestinian people, which, he alleged, is supported by Europe and the United States.

¶3. (U) The Cuban delegate boasted of Cuba’s successes in the area of human rights and said the same countries that criticize Cuba commit numerous violations of human rights, singling out the United States for what she said was torture of prisoners by U.S. soldiers in Guantanamo and Iraq, sexual abuse of prisoners in Abu Ghraib, police violence, the death penalty for minors, election fraud, “people-hunting” on the Mexican border, and violations of civil and political rights of American citizens, including wiretapping and banning travel to Cuba.

¶4. (U) North Korea’s delegate said the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan were the cause of “more than a million” deaths and an increase in sectarian violence. He called for “non-selectivity” in addressing human rights, stating that issues such as the unlawful acts of Israel in the Occupied Territories and the CIA’s alleged overseas secret prisons are ignored, while developing countries are SIPDIS the target of accusations. “The United States is the number one invader and killer of other nations” said the North Korean, and “must clean its untidy house inside and out.”

¶5. (U) Syria’s delegate said the “American sermon” was an attempt to divide the Third Committee into good vs. bad. He argued that the vote against the U.S. trade embargo of Cuba in this year’s General Assembly showed the isolation of the American position when it comes to human rights. He said U.S. human rights violations include the Guantanamo prison, secret extrajudicial executions, targeted killings, use of SIPDIS biological weapons in Vietnam, racial discrimination, and even movies that promote violence around the world.

¶6. (U) China said the United States had turned a blind eye to China’s progress in human rights, but had failed to examine its own human rights record, citing the September 16 Blackwater security incident in Iraq. He stated that the United States has increased its monitoring and control of the Internet and suppressed anti-war expression and gatherings. He alleged that racism and xenophobia are on the rise in the United States, as are violations of the human rights of Native Americans and ethnic groups. He called on the United States to remember its own “bad and sad” human rights record.
Khalilzad
.
Read more at Censored News:

8/22/2011 CENSORED NEWS: Hopi file lawsuit over recycled wastewater on San Francisco Peaks

8/22/2011 CENSORED NEWS: Hopi File Lawsuit over Sewage Effluent Contract By Hopi Tribe: The Hopi Tribe Initiates Litigation against the City of Flagstaff to Enjoin the Illegal Contract for the Sale of Reclaimed Wastewater to the Snowbowl. KYKOTSMOVI, Ariz. – On Friday, August 19, 2011, the Hopi Tribe filed a lawsuit against the City of Flagstaff in Arizona Superior Court in Coconino County challenging the City’s decision in September 2010 not to amend or cancel the contract for the sale of reclaimed wastewater to the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort (“Snowbowl”) for snowmaking.

The lawsuit states that the City’s contract to sell 1.5 million gallons of reclaimed wastewater per day to Snowbowl is illegal because it violates several Arizona laws that govern the proper use of reclaimed wastewater. The contract provides for the use of reclaimed wastewater in a mountain setting where runoff and overspray cannot be prevented, as Arizona law requires. Additionally, restrictions on limiting human contact with wastewater cannot be met, and harm to the unique alpine environment in the area, including rare animals and plants, cannot be prevented.

The contract is also illegal under Arizona law because it will result in unreasonable environmental degradation and will further deplete limited drinking water resources. As stated in the complaint, the use of reclaimed wastewater for snowmaking will unreasonably harm the environment, create a public nuisance, and infringe upon the public’s, including the Hopi Tribe’s, use and enjoyment of the area around Snowbowl as well as infringe on the Hopi Tribe’s reserved water rights.

The City’s sale of reclaimed wastewater to the Snowbowl will cover a portion of the San Francisco Peaks with artificial snow made from reclaimed wastewater. The San Francisco Peaks, and in particular Snowbowl, is ecologically unique and contains rare types of habitat and species. The City’s illegal contract allows wastewater to run off and spray into wilderness areas specifically used by the Hopi Tribe and others, impeding and infringing on the use and enjoyment of these areas by the Hopi Tribe and others.

Reclaimed wastewater is water that has been used and processed through the City’s wastewater system. Snowmelt from artificial snow made from reclaimed wastewater will be environmentally harmful because it contains chemicals including endocrine disruptors, which can interfere with natural hormone levels and processes in humans and animals. Negative impacts of endocrine disrupters include aberrant sexual development, behavioral and reproductive problems. Key species in the San Francisco Peaks ecosystem, such as frogs, are particularly susceptible to these harmful effects.

The Hopi Tribe will show that the illegal contract for the sale and use of reclaimed wastewater at Snowbowl will result in a very large net economic loss for the San Francisco Peaks community. The small increase in profits anticipated by the Snowbowl and minimal economic benefits to the area are far outweighed by much higher costs, including environmental damage, for the San Francisco Peaks’ community, including the Hopi Tribe.

The effects of the reclaimed wastewater cannot be confined to the ski area and, therefore, users of the Peaks in the vital and accessible areas around Snowbowl will be harmed if the illegal contract is allowed to stand. The Hopi Tribe seeks a judicial order prohibiting performance on this contract to sell reclaimed wastewater to Snowbowl, as the contract is for an illegal purpose and contrary to public policy.

The Hopi Tribe Chairman Leroy Shingoitewa stressed the importance of the case to the Hopi Tribe. “The health and safety of the Hopi people is indistinguishable from the health and safety of the environment — protection of the environment on the San Francisco Peaks is central to the Tribe’s existence. The use of reclaimed sewage on the San Francisco Peaks as planned by the City of Flagstaff and Snowbowl will have a direct negative impact on the Hopi Tribe’s frequent and vital uses of the Peaks.”

For more information, contact (928) 734-3107.

8/14/2011 CENSORED NEWS: New at Censored News: Snowbowl, Mohawk Nation Youth Riots, Fracking

8/14/2011 CENSORED NEWS News at Censored NewsSpecial thanks goes out to the courageous ones who continue to risk their lives for truth and justice, and the Native American youths providing breaking news with cellphones, cameras and video. Here are the breaking news stories from Censored News: Photos: Klee Benally locks down to Snowbowl equipment Photos by Youths of the Peaks as the events unfold, with Klee Benally chained to Snowbowl excavator and two arrests, Peaks police liaison Rudy Preston and author Mary Sojourner. Native American youths in action providing instant coverage, sending photos by cellphone to Censored News:

Photos: Klee Benally chained to excavator at Snowbowl Photos by Outta Your Backpack Media Native youths telling their own stories with media, documenting Klee Benally, Navajo, chained to excavator on Saturday to halt desecration of sacred San Francisco Peaks: http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2011/08/photos-klee-benally-chained-to.html

Mohawk Nation News: Youth Riots: Ravenous Hunger for Freedom By Mohawk Nation News Indigenous could not be enslaved. A man whose mind is free cannot be controlled. The most that can be done is to kill them. There is a hunger for freedom. Those aware are angry. Hunger is becoming more intense. Alarms are ringing. They are looking for sustenance.

Arizona Daily Sun’s pitiful explanation of censorship of Protect the Peaks The pathetic note, in a series of notes, in today’s Arizona Daily Sun can be translated this way: “We aren’t going to cover this breaking news, and 19 arrests by sending out a reporter and photographer, because we are a white elitist newspaper and focus on white people and money-making profiteers. We can always come up with an excuse to censor, and cover our backs, because we are the ones publishing this newspaper and no one can force us to abide by the ethics of journalism. We don’t really care what local Native Americans have to say because we give priority to white people, and people who are exploiting the natural resources, profiteering from other peoples misery and profiteering from the desecration of their sacred places.”

Free Palestine Movement announces new flotilla with AIM representative – The Free Palestine Movement announces the Nour al-Haqiqa (Light of Truth) Flotilla vessel and its goal of reaching Gaza. American Indian Movement representative Jimbo Simmons, Choctaw, is among those making plans to be on the vessel. During an interview broadcast at the Protecting Mother Earth Gathering in North Dakota July 28-31, Simmons said he is making plans to be on the vessel. Simmons was also in Greece in June, waiting to leave on the Free Gaza Flotilla that was halted. The Free Palestine Movement made a public announcement of plans for the Nour al-Haqiqa Flotilla vessel today. http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2011/08/free-palestine-movement-announces.html

“>VIDEO: Frack Off! 500 foot banner drop http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2011/08/video-frack-off-500-foot-banner-drop.html

CENSORED NEWS: Arizona Daily Sun's pitiful explanation for censorship

CENSORED NEWS: Arizona Daily Sun’s pitiful explanation for censorship By Brenda Norrell: Today, the Arizona Daily Sun in Flagstaff makes a pitiful explanation for its censorship of news coverage of the protests of Protect the Peaks and the 19 arrests in the past nine days. First the Arizona Daily Sun whines about not having enough reporters, but of course the reporters they do have are out covering other stories. Then, the Arizona Daily Sun attempts to defame Native Americans struggling to protect their sacred San Francisco Peaks, and insults them.

When all else fails, the Arizona Daily Sun just dismisses the whole thing by saying, “there doesn’t appear to be a lot of new news on the horizon.”

Well, this may be the most pathetic excuse for censorship in history. It may also be the most pathetic coverup of protecting and cheerleading for the business desecrating the sacred San Francisco Peaks, the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort, and its owner, Eric Borowsky, who lives in Scottsdale, not Flagstaff.

Besides covering up for the profiteering Snowbowl, the Arizona Daily Sun covered up for Flagstaff police who targeted organizers in a peaceful march last Sunday, and dragged them out into the street to arrest them.

The pathetic note, in a series of notes, in today’s Arizona Daily Sun can be translated this way: “We aren’t going to cover this breaking news, and 19 arrests by sending out a reporter and photographer, because we are a white elitist newspaper and focus on white people and money-making profiteers. We can always come up with an excuse to censor, and cover our backs, because we are the ones publishing this newspaper and no one can force us to abide by the ethics of journalism. We don’t really care what local Native Americans have to say because we give priority to white people, and people who are exploiting the natural resources, profiteering from other peoples misery and profiteering from the desecration of their sacred places.”

— Brenda Norrell
(Brenda Norrell, publisher of Censored News, is a former reporter for the Arizona Daily Sun and AP.)

Read more of the Arizona Daily Sun coverup

NOTE: The reporters were even spoonfed with press statements, video and photos from people on the scene. There is no excuse for this. There was no travel invovled for Arizona Daily Sun reporters to go downtown to the protests. They could have ridden a bicycle. The reporters could even sit in their easy chairs, like many other armchair reporters, publish the press statements, quote from the video, post the free photos, and there you have it, almost a news story.

And of course, there’s always the phone call. Along with a free photo, the phone call interview is the perfect reporter’s coverup for not being there.
–Brenda Norrell

8/12/2011 EPA allows Chevron access to sensitive data on Navajo Nation – Chevron gains access to sensitive data on Navajo soil and water

8/12/2011 CENSORED NEWS: EPA allows Chevron access to sensitive data on Navajo Nation – Chevron gains access to sensitive data on Navajo soil and water: By Brenda Norrell: MARIANO LAKE, N.M. — The US EPA is allowing Chevron USA Inc., access to sensitive data on the Navajo Nation, by allowing Chevron to investigate uranium contamination. Chevron is one of the world’s primary exploiters and spoilers of Indigenous lands. Navajo President Ben Shelly, however, said allowing Chevron to carry out the investigation on the Navajo Nation is a good thing. President Shelly said, “On behalf of the communities in and around Mariano Lake, I extend my sincere appreciation for the agreement today between the U.S. EPA and Chevron. I look forward to the data that will be generated in this investigation, and I respectfully request U.S. EPA to understand our desires for the most protective clean up plans that will help restore harmony in our communities and homes.”

While the EPA purports to be cleaning up uranium contamination, at the same time, corporations are targeting the Navajo Nation for more uranium mining. By giving Chevron access to geological data, soil and water data, the Navajo Nation is giving away sensitive information used by corporations for future destructive industries, including mining and oil and gas drilling.

Corporations such as Chevron have a long history of gaining access to Indian lands under the guise of cleanup or research.

The US EPA selected Chevron to investigate radium-contaminated soil at the Mariano Lake Mine site, a former uranium mine located on the Navajo Nation near Gallup, N.M. The EPA said in a statement that the agreement is the result of an effort by the EPA and Navajo Nation to address contamination of uranium mining in the Navajo Nation.

The EPA was persuaded by Chevron’s offer of dollars.

Under the agreement, Chevron will conduct a radiological survey and sample radium-contaminated soil throughout the 31-acre Mariano Lake Mine site and surrounding area, including 10 residences and two nearby water wells. Chevron also agreed to pay EPA’s oversight costs, the EPA said in a statement.

Chevron’s fencing also concerns local Navajos.

EPA and the Navajo EPA will oversee field work, which will include construction of a fence and application of a sealant to contaminated soils where people live, work and play while the investigation is carried out. The order also requires Chevron to post signs, lock gates and prevent livestock from getting into areas of known contamination prior to cleanup, the EPA said.

The Mariano Lake Mine site operated as a uranium ore mine from approximately 1977 to 1982, and includes one 500-foot deep shaft, waste piles, and several surface ponds. Exposure to elevated levels of radium over a long period of time can result in anemia, cataracts, fractured teeth, and cancer, especially bone cancer.

The EPA said that Chevron is the fifth “responsible party” that the EPA has required to take actions at former uranium mines on the Navajo Nation.

Indigenous Peoples, however, have plenty of proof that Chevron is not a responsible party.

The EPA said the work with Navajo Nation is to identify and enforce against responsible parties is part of a 5-year plan to address the problem, which can be found at http://www.epa.gov/region9/superfund/navajo-nation/