Shutting Down Line 5: A Sovereign Nation’s Fight Against Enbridge’s Line 5 Oil Pipeline

Photograph by MI-CATS

Organizers from the Little Traverse Bay Bands (LTBB) of Odawa Indians, along with environmental activists, took to the water and Mackinac Bridge over Labor Day weekend protesting Enbridge’s sixty-two year old pipeline running through Michigan’s Straits of Mackinac.

Started originally as a single day event ended up as a two day demonstration with a kayaktivist flotilla on Sunday, followed by a Labor Day Bridge Walk. Both included banners, t-shirts, and signs displaying a public outcry to shut down Enbridge’s LIne 5.

Photograph by Nancy Haun

The LTBB Odawa Indians are a federally recognized tribe under Public Law 103-324 and are ceded, according to the Treaty of Washington of 1836 (7 Stat. 491) and the Treaty of Detroit of 1855 (11 Stat. 621), as protectors of our Lakehead Systems and the surrounding bodies of freshwater Enbridge’s Line 5 is currently using to transport crude [1]. If a spill were to occur, the LTBB of Odawa Indian’s territory would be contaminated beyond restoration — putting an end to the Odawa’s way of life.

Line 5 is an environmental threat to Michigan’s Great Lakes when used to transport crude of any kind. Enbridge is responsible for spilling over 6.8 million gallons of oil into our environment [2]. Including the Line 6B catastrophe that devastated Michigan’s Kalamazoo River — with diluted bitumen being one of the many toxic compounds found in the spill [3]. Sparking the Odawa Tribe’s justification for shutting down Line 5 — outlined in Tribal Resolution #030515-01 [2].

Photograph by Dylan Hock

Enbridge jeopardizes not only LTBB’s life line to freshwater, but the rest of Michigan’s Great Lakes community [4]. Our freshwater is a shared resource, according to the easement and agreements made under Act 10, P.A. 1953 — Great Lakes Submerged Lands Act (GLSLA) and public trust law [3]. Therefore, any entity putting our public resources at risk is not only in violation of the GLSA. They are also violating Tribal land agreements made between Indigenous populations and respective governments.

Photograph by Michiele Bourdieu

This lack of accountability and public oversight into corporations who exploit our shared commons is not a surprise considering today’s neoliberal environment [5]. Corporations are allowed to undermine both State as well as Federal law to maximize their profits. And it is because of corporate entities like Enbridge why Treaty lands are being exploited with little to no governance favoring the sovereignty of Indigenous tribes.

References

1.] Decommission and Safe Removal of Pipeline Running under the Straits of Mackinac. (2015, March 19). Retrieved September 12, 2015, from http://www.michigan.gov/documents/deq/Appendix_E.5_494106_7.pdf

2.] FLOW Takes Lead Authoring Line 5 Letter to Governor: Elevating the Public Trust Duty to Protect the Great Lakes | Flow For Water. (2014, July 2). Retrieved September 13, 2015, from http://flowforwater.org/flow-takes-lead-authoring-line-5-letter-to-governor-elevating-the-public-trust-duty-to-protect-the-great-lakes/

3.] Enbridge Must Restore Environment Injured by 2010 Kalamazoo River Oil Spill | U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Region. (2015, June 8). Retrieved September 12, 2015, from http://www.fws.gov/midwest/news/785.html

4.] Enbridge Line 5 An Oil Pipeline Under the Great Lakes (2015, April 28). Retrieved September 12, 2015, from http://www.ltbbodawa-nsn.gov/ENV/Postings/Enbridge Line 5 Factsheet.pdf

5.] Lack of Transparency. (2015, September 3). Retrieved September 12, 2015, from http://www.oilandwaterdontmix.org/transparency

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Former Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi Meets Opposition at United Nations Headquarters

12088025_947483515324094_3779203134226193516_nOn Thursday, October 1st, 2015 Yemeni demonstrators took to the United Nations headquarters in lieu of former President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s visit. Elected only as a temporary leader, Hadi’s continued alliance with the Saudi regime gave rise for him to potentially reclaim his presidency in Yemen by utilizing Saudi’s military support to oust the Shia Houthis from Yemen’s capital — the City of Sana’a. This Saudi led intervention that began on March 25th, 2015, has left a death toll of over twelve thousand civilians [1]. Including over a thousand children in just five months of bombing. Leaving demonstrators no choice but to tell the world how international laws are being broken and millions are now suffering at the hands of Saudi Arabia and Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

In 2011, Yemen joined the Arab Spring by demanding U.S.-backed president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who maintained his rule for over thirty-three years, resign. Aside from having to live under Saleh’s dictatorship, the people of Yemen were finished with hegemonic policies that endorsed corruption, exacerbated economic disparities, and even included a manipulation of Yemen’s constitution so that Saleh could hand his presidential office over to his son. Unable to quell the rebellion, Saleh ordered troops to open fire on demonstrators in Sana’a as a desperation move to maintain his position as president. With Security Forces murdering between 200 to 2000 people, Saleh quickly lost international support and finally stepped down on February 27th, 2012 [2].

After the fall of Saleh, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, former Vice President of Ali Abdullah Saleh, ran uncontested during Yemen’s 2012 presidential election. Hadi was supposed to oversee a new parliament as well as a new constitution that would allow Yemen’s transition to a democratic state [3]. Under newly granted powers from the Gulf Cooperation Council signed by former president Saleh, Hadi had put an end to public subsidies on fuel, was negotiating a potential six regional split in Yemen, and maintained his close ties with Saudi Arabia [4]. This culmination of events ignited Houthis to take control of Sana’a. Withstanding four months of fighting, Houthis surrounded Hadi’s presidential palace and acquired his written resignation on January 22, 2015 — leaving Hadi in exile and under house arrest in Aden [5].

Seizing control of Sana’a in 2015, Houthis promptly formed the Supreme Revolutionary Committee as a way to oversee the interim government’s transition to a functioning democracy [6]. Houthis were granted these powers according to the Peace and Partnership Agreement signed in September of 2014 [7]. After a second overthrow of Sana’a, this time led by Shia Houthis — a new truce was being facilitated by the United Nations, by the remaining parties left in Parliament, and by the Houthis’ Supreme Revolutionary Committee. Their main responsibilities were to negotiate a new constitut11215746_947484268657352_7139227331142054633_nion for the people of Yemen, a new 551-seat Parliament led by a 5-seat Presidential Council. However, this short period of peace was interrupted on March 25th, 2015 when Saudi airstrikes began within Yemeni borders.

Hadi, living in exile, managed to escape house arrest in Aden, retracted his resignation as president, and declared the Houthis’ revolution as unconstitutional. By declaring his so-called right to the presidency of Yemen gave Saudi Arabia all the reasons it needed to begin airstrikes. However, as standing members of the United Nations Human Rights Council, both the United States as well as Saudi Arabia already knew that in order to begin any military engagements — they must first go through the U.N.’s Security Council. According to U.N. Charter Chapter VII: Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression, Article 47 states, “[p]lans for the application of armed force shall be made by the Security Council with the assistance of the Military Staff Committee” [8]. Meaning, by Saudi-led airstrikes in cooperation with the United States’ refueling stations and intelligence operations — violates international law.

On top of ignoring the U.N. Charter both Saudi Arabia and the United Staes are also violating international law by using illegal armament to terrorize the people of Yemen. Journalist Donatella Rovera reported inside Yemeni borders as finding, “a field full of U.S.-made BLU-97 cluster submunitions” [9]. Banned by an International Convention in 2008 cluster bombs were declared illegal and world leaders agreed to removing them from their military’s possession [9]. Nevertheless, U.S. warehouses were stocked full of the BLU-97’s and were eventually sold to Saudi Arabia for them to now use against Yemeni civilians.

Knowing their violations of International law, specifically regarding acts of aggression during times of peace — the U.S. and Saudi Arabia alliance blocked a U.N. Human Rights Council resolution that would have launched a humanitarian investigation in Yemen [10]. Furthermore, this resolution blockage is allowing Saudi Arabia to continue their illegal bombing of Yemen, to further the humanitarian crisis by restricting aid, and is enabling the U.S. to supply Saudi jets with fuel, along with covert operations inside Yemen..

12109032_947482645324181_4980559684449283109_n

Abulalah Aljahmi featured on the far left

The people of Yemen were promised a way out of a dictatorship-type rule so their country could transition into a democracy. However, what the Yemeni people have seen is representation that caters to U.S. oil demands, representation that hands over regional control to Al-Qaeda, and even representation that will abide by the demands of Saudi Arabia. This is why Yemen is in such a fragile state and why the bombing must stop. With more and more civilians being murdered every day, along with humanitarian aid being restricted to a single access point under the strict control of Saudi Arabia — puts an already vulnerable population at a greater risk for more war and more famine.

At the October 1st demonstration, Yemeni advocate Abulalah Aljahmi stated, “[w]hen I look…and see the children who have been killed by Saudi Arabia…I look at my children and think how it could have been my own family being murdered — and so I worry”. Aljahmi and fellow demonstrators arrived at the United Nations headquarters on behalf of those left without aid and without a governing body that could advocate for peace and justice. Therefore, it is in the best interest for all parties to come back to the negotiating table under a U.N. brokered truce to resolve how democratic rule will be implemented. And how to stabilize an already starved and war torn region until a proper representative government can be elected by the people of Yemen.

References

1.] Roberts, D., & Shaheen, K. (2015, March 26). Saudi Arabia launches Yemen air strikes as alliance builds against Houthi rebels. Retrieved October 5, 2015, from http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/26/saudi-arabia-begins-airstrikes-against-houthi-in-yemen

2.] Arab uprising: Country by country. (2013, December 16). Retrieved October 4, 2015, from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-12482293

3.] Profile: Yemen’s Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. (20, February 22). Retrieved October 4, 2015, from http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/02/2012219133034774204

4.] Yemen’s Saleh agrees to sign plan to transfer power: Opposition, U.N. envoy. (2011, November 21). Retrieved October 5, 2015, from https://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2011/11/21/178454.html

5.] Al-Moshki, A. (2015, February 25). President or fugitive? Houthis reject Hadi’s letter to Parliament. Retrieved October 5, 2015, from http://www.yementimes.com/en/1863/news/4928/President-or-fugitive-Houthis-reject-Hadi’s-letter-to-Parliament.htm

6.] Slim, J. (2015, February 7). Houthis Take Control of Yemen Without Seizing Power. Retrieved October 5, 2015, from http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/23662

7.] Al-Moshki, A. (2013, September 23). Peace and National Partnership Agreement signed. Retrieved October 4, 2015, from http://www.yementimes.com/en/1818/news/4365/Peace-and-National-Partnership-Agreement-signed.htm

8.] Charter, United Nations, Chapter VII: Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace and Acts of Agression. (n.d.). Retrieved October 5, 2015, from http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/chapter7.shtml

9.] Rovera, D. (2015, August 26). The Human Carnage of Saudi Arabia’s War in Yemen. Retrieved October 4, 2015, from http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/08/26/the-human-carnage-of-saudi-arabias-war-in-yemen/

10.] Cumming-bruce, N. (2015, September 30). Saudi Objections Halt U.N. Inquiry of Yemen War. Retrieved October 4, 2015, from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/01/world/middleeast/western-nations-drop-push-for-un-inquiry-into-yemen-conflict.html?_r=1

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Amnesty International’s Write for Rights 2014: Leonard Peltier

For Leonard Peltier…

2015/01/img_0049.jpg

2015/01/img_0050.jpg

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Amnesty International’s Write for Rights 2014: Chelsea Manning ~ “Jailed After Exposing Possible Human Rights Abuses”

A nation whose history starts with Crimes Against Humanity, by enslaving kidnapped Africans and by the genocide of Indigenous-Aboriginals, depends on maintaining its’ authority with an empire of security. The United States establishes its’ security by passing laws, by building a military, and by creating agencies designed to protect a government built around the destruction of both land as well as people.

With great wealth and power achieved from destroying land and people — the institutions established from these crimes always remains fearful of its’ own populations and do not ever want to be threatened with being brought to justice. In order for a government and privatized wealth to remain free from persecution ~ the people suffering under their tyranny must either be exterminated or lied to in a way so they are more inclined to be patriotic towards that nation, rather than revolutionary of their oppressors.

A way to achieve this star-spangled patriotism is by the continuation of foreign wars. Where the United States’ enemies are clearly established by U.S. government-controlled media outlets. This narrow viewpoint of “good versus bad” as well as “right and wrong” is usually defined by elected officials, media personalities, along with legitimate news sources. Together they serve as an echo-chamber justifying sending innocent people from one nation to kill more innocent people in another nation. This grand scale of misinformation is used as a way to motivate an entire population to believe how their friends, families, and neighbors are fighting an enemy who could potentially do harm to their country. Giving the illusion of how every war effort is in fact a noble cause.

The most recent U.S. backed foreign war was the second invasion of Iraq that began in 2003. Where national momentum for more bloodshed was established by an attack on New York City’s World Trade Center. This tactic was used to establish patriotic solidarity and to justify a large-scale war with some vague ambiguous enemy, Saddam Hussein and his “Weapons of Mass Destruction”, all fabricated by the U.S. government and confirmed by corporate-owned, pentagon-funded news sources. Together, they both achieved public consensus around a second invasion in the Middle East by soliciting national pride while capitalizing on a general misguided distrust of the Arab community.

Not only were there no weapons of mass destruction, the War in Iraq paved the way for extreme right-wing policies such as the Patriot Act ~ a direct invasion of our privacy and a direct violation of our Human Rights. It also gave rise for a national push to extract energy here at home in the forms of fracking as well as large-scale drilling operations in the form of raw crude. This new found pride in national energy allowed corporations to profit off of resources here and abroad with little to no resistance from our own environmental laws or agencies. While at the same time, allowing new security agencies coupled with existing programs to increase their stranglehold of policing the American people with trillions of taxpayer dollars ~ all conceded to in the form of national security. And because of the increased spending for fossil fuel profits, increased spending for another foreign war at the expense of over 1.1 million Iraqi lives, and increased spending for Homeland Security — a new right-wing national agenda was set in place. While our social safety nets, such as a quality education, health care, free and fair elections, food, water, and clean air, were quickly dismantled through justified budget cuts as well as a wide-sweeping roll-back of environmental protections.

To contradict the American propaganda depicting Iraq as a clearly defined enemy and America as the “good-guy” was Chelsea Manning. Serving as an Intelligence Analyst for the U.S. Army during the war in Iraq ~ Chelsea Manning leaked the largest number of classified documents in the history of the United States. And was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for allowing the world to see the United States as what it always has been ~ a lying murderer. The documentation given to WikiLeaks by Chelsea Manning would have never come to light if it wasn’t for her selfless act. And because of Chelsea Manning’s unselfishness she was sentenced to thirty-five years in prison because of the so-called U.S. Espionage Act. The Espionage Act has nothing to do with protecting the people of the United States. But instead, is another law set to protect a fearful empire who kills and imprisons those fighting for Human Rights.

So, on December 17th, 2014 I sent this letter to President Barack Obama asking for the immediate and unconditional release of Chelsea Manning because she is a hero, not a criminal.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/930/38007601/files/2014/12/img_1294.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/930/38007601/files/2014/12/img_1295.jpg

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Amnesty International’s Write for Rights 2014: Murad Shtewi ~ “Community Leader Targeted For Activism”

Murad Shtewi was targeted by the Israeli government for merely organizing Palestinians in non-violent demonstrations that oppose the closing of a main road connecting Kafr Qaddum to Nablus. This road is under Israeli military occupancy and allows the free travel of only Israeli civilians. It represents one of many components of Apartheid in Israel by forcefully obstructing the people of Palestine’s mode of transportation ~ for doing nothing more than being Palestinian. And Murad Shtewi was in opposition of this road closing, along with Israeli enforced Apartheid, making him a target for imprisonment by the Israeli government. Now, Shtewi sits behind bars as a Prisoner of Conscience because he was convicted of false charges. These charges, brought up by Israeli authorities, are a direct violation of our Human Rights. So, on the 17th of December, 2014 I sent this letter advocating for the immediate release of Murad Shtewi.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/930/38007601/files/2014/12/img_1288.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/930/38007601/files/2014/12/img_1289.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/930/38007601/files/2014/12/img_1290.jpg

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Amnesty International’s Write for Rights 2014: Hadiya Pendleton ~ “Pass The Youth P.R.O.M.I.S.E. Act To Address Gun Violence’

Letter sent out on December 17th, 2014 addressing the death of Hadiya Pendleton, who was shot and killed in her hometown of Chicago. While also, advocating for President Barack Obama to pass the “Youth Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education Act” (Youth PROMISE Act). A program designed to help our young people stay away from gang violence through education and providing resources to build up their communities around non-violence, rather than continuing the current school to prison-pipeline standard.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/930/38007601/files/2014/12/img_1284.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/930/38007601/files/2014/12/img_1285.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/930/38007601/files/2014/12/img_1286.jpg

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Amnesty International’s Write for Rights 2014: Jorge Lázaro Nunes Dos Santos ~ “Father Seeking Justice For His Sons”

Jorge Lázaro Nunes Dos Santos has been enduring the injustice and tragedy of having his sons, Ricardo and Enio dos Santos, murdered in Brazil with no convictions. Ricardo was playing soccer with his friends when he was shot to death. His brother Enio, was kidnapped from his own home, then killed. In Brazil, it is not uncommon for black children to be killed by death squads. And on December 17th, 2014 I asked the President of the National Council of Justice to pursue a trial that has three government officers linked to Ricardo’s death. While also, asking that Jorge Lázaro Nunes Dos Santos be allowed into a national program dedicated to seeking justice for families who have had their sons and daughters killed just because they were a different race.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/930/38007601/files/2014/12/img_1281-0.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/930/38007601/files/2014/12/img_1278-0.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/930/38007601/files/2014/12/img_1280-0.jpg

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment