Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Lipan Apache reveal border wall abuses to OAS Inter-American Commission
US State Department and BIA attempt to cover up their crimes, interrupt Lipan Apache testimony on border abuse, during hearing of Organization of American States
By Brenda Norrell
WASHINGTON -- As Lipan Apache Margo Tamez delivered powerful testimony on the US government's human rights violations at the Texas/Mexico border before the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, members of the US State Department and BIA interrupted to cover up their crimes.
After introducing herself in the Apache language, Tamez described how her family's land is being seized without consent or consultation for the US/Mexico border wall. Tamez said the lands of her people would be divided and result in relocation, especially for the elderly. Tamez said their place of prayer is on the other side of the border. She described what is happening to Indian people all along the border, in this new wave of genocide of Indian cultures and ceremonies along the border.
During the hearing today, Oct. 22, members of the Texas border delegation, a working group based at the University of Texas, pointed out how the poor are affected the most by the border wall, while the playgrounds of the rich, such as a golf course, are avoided. They also pointed out that Homeland Security had voided all federal laws, including environmental laws and laws protecting American Indian cultural and burial places. Traditional communities of the Tigua in Texas and Kumeyaay in California also have members living on both sides of the border and the border wall cuts through their traditional territories.
Interrupting Tamez, US State Department and BIA officials attempted to cover up the violations of human rights, with a lengthy, empty verbal tap dance.
The representative from the BIA, Nina Siquieros, Tohono O'odham, attempted to paint a rosy picture of the Arizona border wall, but she did not reveal the testimony of Tohono O'odham Ned Norris to a Congressional committee in April. At that time, Norris testified that Homeland Security and Boeing had violated all federal laws. Norris said the border wall construction had human bones in heavy machinery tracks.
The Commission was not told of the O'odham ancestors' remains that were dug up and removed in secret on Tohono O'odham land, by the contractor Boeing while building the border wall.
During the US government's attempt to coverup the crimes, there was no opportunity for the Tohono O'odham opposing the wall, such as Ofelia Rivas, founder of the O'odham Voice Against the Wall, to speak. There was no voice of those doing humanitarian work, including Mike Wilson, Tohono O'odham, to speak for the dead.
Tamez, in conclusion, pointed out that Chairman Norris had opposed the border wall and came to Texas to support the Lipan Apache. Tamez also said the Indigenous Alliance without Borders has brought together Indigenous Peoples from all along the border, from California to Texas, who oppose the border wall and the violations of human rights resulting.
Although the US State Department claimed the border wall was necessary to keep terrorists out of the country, one member of the human rights commission questioned what would keep a terrorist from coming through the hole in the wall at the Texas golf course.
"They don't attack when you have a golf course?" he asked the State Department, who didn't respond at the time.
The Commission also heard testimony from Indigenous Peoples in other regions of the Americas, including the Cucupa (Cocopah) in Mexico, who live near the Arizona/California border, and people struggling for human rights in Guerrero, Mexico and Honduras. The Cucupa are struggling to protect their natural resources and fishing rights.
Watch videos of the testimony:
Photo: Eloisa Tamez and daughter Margo Tamez on family's land on Texas border. Photo Arnoldo Garcia.
Posted by email@example.com at 9:05 PM