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PR: Western Shoshone Victorious at United Nations: U.S. Found in Violation

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NVMojo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 05:29 AM
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PR: Western Shoshone Victorious at United Nations: U.S. Found in Violation
Western Shoshone Victorious at United Nations: U.S. Found in Violation of Human Rights of Native Americans Urged to Take Immediate Action

10 March 2006, Geneva Switzerland. Today, in an historic and strongly worded decision by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) the United States was urged to freeze, desist and stop actions being taken or threatened to be taken against the Western Shoshone Peoples of the Western Shoshone Nation. In its decision, CERD stressed the nature and urgency of the Shoshone situation informing the U.S. that it goes well beyond the normal reporting process and warrants immediate attention under the Committees Early Warning and Urgent Action Procedure.



This monumental action challenges the US governments assertion of federal ownership of nearly 90% of Western Shoshone lands. The land base covers approximately 60 million acres, stretching across what is now referred to as the states of Nevada, Idaho, Utah and California. Western Shoshone rights to the land - which they continue to use, care for, and occupy today - were recognized by the United States in 1863 by the Treaty of Ruby Valley. The U.S. now claims these same lands as public or federal lands through an agency process and has denied Western Shoshone fair access to U.S. courts through that same process. The land base has been and continues to be used by the United States for military testing, open pit cyanide heap leach gold mining and nuclear waste disposal planning. The U.S. has engaged in military style seizures of Shoshone livestock, trespass fines in the millions of dollars and ongoing armed surveillance of Western Shoshone who continue to assert their original and treaty rights.



Based upon these actions and a dramatic escalation of new actions threatening irreparable harm to Western Shoshone and their environment, last year, with the support of the Univ. of Arizona Indigenous Law and Policy Program, the Western Shoshone filed a renewed legal action at the United Nations CERD. In addition to evidence of the United States conduct, the Western Shoshone delegation also delivered over 13,000 signatures from citizens across the United States of America supporting the Western Shoshone action to CERD. This petition was a result of a campaign organized by the rights-based development organization Oxfam America to demonstrate the widespread concern for the Western Shoshone peoples to the United Nations.



CERD rejected the U.S. argument that the situation was not novel and therefore should wait to be reviewed until the U.S. submits its Periodic Report past due since 2003. The Committee informed the U.S. that lthough these are indeed long-standing issuesthey warrant immediate and effective action should be dealt with as a matter of priority. The United States was urged to pay particular attention to the right to health and cultural rights of the Western Shoshonewhich may be infringed upon by activities threatening their environment and/or disregarding the spiritual and cultural significance they give to their ancestral lands.



CERD presented its decision to the Western Shoshone this morning. The decision details the U.S. actions against the Western Shoshone and calls upon the United States to immediately:

Respect and protect the human rights of the Western Shoshone peoples;

Initiate a dialogue with the representatives of the Western Shoshone peoples in order to find a solution acceptable to them, and which complies with their rights;

Adopt the following measures until a final decision or settlement is reached on the status, use and occupation of Western Shoshone ancestral lands in accordance with due process of law and the U.S. obligations under the Convention;

o Freeze all efforts to privatize Western Shoshone ancestral lands for transfer to multinational extractive industries and energy developers;

o Desist from all activities planned and/or conducted on Western Shoshone ancestral lands;

o Stop imposing grazing fees, livestock impoundments, hunting, fishing and gathering restrictions and rescind all notices already made.



The decision is historic in that it is the first time a United Nations Committee has issued a full decision against the U.S. in respect to its highly controversial Federal Indian law and policy. The decision expressed particular concern that the U.S. basis for claiming federal title to Western Shoshone land rests on a theory of gradual encroachment through a compensation process in the Indian Claims Commission. The decision highlights that this same process was found by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to violate international human rights norms, principles and standards that govern determination of indigenous property interests. When the U.S. last appeared before the Committee in 2001, Committee members expressed alarm and concern that U.S. laws regarding indigenous peoples continue to be based on the outdated, colonial era doctrine of discovery.



The Committee gave the U.S. a July 15, 2006 deadline to provide it with information on the action it had taken. The decision issued today demonstrates a solid commitment by the United Nations human rights system to make the Western Shoshones struggle a priority. Whereas indigenous peoples have been active at the United Nations for several decades, the decision today also brings a breath of hope to indigenous communities across the U.S. and globally where the negative effects of U.S. policy and influence reach. In its decision, the Committee drew particular attention to its General recommendation 23 (1997) on the rights of indigenous peoples, in particular their right to own, develop, control and use their communal lands, territories and resources.









Comments from Western Shoshone Delegation to United Nations (March 10, 2006):



We have rights to protect our homelands and stop the destruction of our land, water, and air by the abuses of the United States government and the multinational corporations. The situation is outrageous and were glad the United Nations Committee agrees with us. Our people have suffered more nuclear testing than anywhere else in the world and theyre continuing underground testing despite our protests. Yucca Mountain is being hollowed out in order to store nuclear waste. We cannot stand for it this earth, the air, the water are sacred. People of all races must stop this insanity now in order to secure a safe future for all. Joe Kennedy, Western Shoshone.



The Western Shoshone Nation is very thankful to the Committee members for their decision affirming U.S. discrimination and destructive policies do not go on unaccounted for. Truth is what it is that can never change. We pray for the healing of our peoples, the land and the harassment and destruction to stop. While others are allowed the freedom of religion, we are kept from the very same right. The Newe (people) use this ancestral land for sacred ceremonies. The federal agencies prevent our access to some of these important areas. Our ancestors burials are being dug up and placed into local museums basement storage areas because of surge of gold mines and nuclear developments. This is an outrage to our people! Judy Rojo, Western Shoshone.



This battle has been going on for quite some time, but weve seen a dramatic increase in the federal government and the companies rush to finalize what they consider a settlement in order to get a hold of our lands for activities that are contaminating our water and our air. Again, we are very pleased that our rights are finally being taken seriously and we look forward to positive actions being taken by the U.S. Steven Brady, Western Shoshone.



We are Shoshone delegates speaking for a Nation threatened by extinction. The mines are polluting our waters, destroying hot springs and exploding sacred mountainsour burials along with them--attempting to erase our signature on the land. We are coerced and threatened by mining and Federal agencies when we seek to continue spiritual prayers for traditional food or medicine on Shoshone land. We have endured murder of our Newe people for centuries, as chronicled in military records, but now we are asked to endure a more painful death from the U.S. governmental agencies a separation from land and spiritual renewal. We thank our past leaders for their persistence and courage and the CERD for this monumental step Bernice Lalo, Western Shoshone.


For additional information, contact: Julie Fishel, at
wsdp@igc.org or 41-22-747-0000(Geneva)/775-468-0230 (U.S.).

Or Raymond Yowell, Western Shoshone National Council at 775-744-4381.

(Quotes at end of Release PRESS Conference today in Press Room 2, Library, Palais Nations, Geneva Switzerland) Full text of decision attached.




B. Concerns

1. The Committee expresses concern about the lack of action taken by the State party to follow up on its previous concluding observations, in relation to the situation of the Western Shoshone peoples (A/56/18, para. 400, adopted on 13 August 2001). Although these are indeed long-standing issues, as stressed by the State party in its letter, they warrant immediate and effective action from the State party. The Committee therefore considers that this issue should be dealt with as a matter of priority.

2. The Committee is concerned by the State partys position that Western Shoshone peoples legal rights to ancestral lands have been extinguished through gradual encroachment, notwithstanding the fact that the Western Shoshone peoples have reportedly continued to use and occupy the lands and their natural resources in accordance with their traditional land tenure patterns. The Committee further notes with concern that the State partys position is made on the basis of processes before the Indian Claims Commission, which did not comply with contemporary international human rights norms, principles and standards that govern determination of indigenous property interests, as stressed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in the case Mary and Carrie Dann versus United States (Case 11.140, 27 December 2002).

3. The Committee is of the view that past and new actions taken by the State party on Western Shoshone ancestral lands lead to a situation where, today, the obligations of the State party under the Convention are not respected, in particular the obligation to guarantee the right of everyone to equality before the law in the enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, without discrimination based on race, colour, or national or ethnic origin. The Committee recalls its General recommendation 23 (1997) on the rights of indigenous peoples, in particular their right to own, develop, control and use their communal lands, territories and resources, and expresses particular concern about:

a) Reported legislative efforts to privatize Western Shoshone ancestral lands for transfer to multinational extractive industries and energy developers.

b) Information according to which destructive activities are conducted and/or planned on areas of spiritual and cultural significance to the Western Shoshone peoples, who are denied access to, and use of, such areas. It notes in particular the reinvigorated federal efforts to open a nuclear waste repository at the Yucca Mountain; the alleged use of explosives and open pit gold mining activities on Mont Tenabo and Horse Canyon; and the alleged issuance of geothermal energy leases at, or near, hot springs, and the processing of further applications to that end.

c) The reported resumption of underground nuclear testing on Western Shoshone ancestral lands;

d) The conduct and / or planning of all such activities without consultation with and despite protests of the Western Shoshone peoples;

e) The reported intimidation and harassment of Western Shoshone people by the State partys authorities, through the imposition of grazing fees, trespass and collection notices, impounding of horse and livestock, restrictions on hunting, fishing and gathering, as well as arrests, which gravely disturb the enjoyment of their ancestral lands.

f) The difficulties encountered by Western Shoshone peoples in appropriately challenging all such actions before national courts and in obtaining adjudication on the merits of their claims, due in particular to domestic technicalities.

C. Recommendations

4. The Committee recommends to the State party that it respect and protect the human rights of the Western Shoshone peoples, without discrimination based on race, colour, or national or ethnic origin, in accordance with the Convention. The State party is urged to pay particular attention to the right to health and cultural rights of the Western Shoshone people, which may be infringed upon by activities threatening their environment and/or disregarding the spiritual and cultural significance they give to their ancestral lands.

5. The Committee urges the State party to take immediate action to initiate a dialogue with the representatives of the Western Shoshone peoples in order to find a solution acceptable to them, and which complies with their rights under, in particular, articles 5 and 6 of the Convention. In this regard also, the Committee draws the attention of the State party to its General recommendation 23 (1997) on the rights of indigenous peoples, in particular their right to own, develop, control and use their communal lands, territories and resources.

6. The Committee urges the State party to adopt the following measures until a final decision or settlement is reached on the status, use and occupation of Western Shoshone ancestral lands in accordance with due process of law and the State partys obligations under the Convention:

a) Freeze any plan to privatize Western Shoshone ancestral lands for transfer to multinational extractive industries and energy developers;

b) Desist from all activities planned and/or conducted on the ancestral lands of Western Shoshone or in relation to their natural resources, which are being carried out without consultation with and despite protests of the Western Shoshone peoples;

c) Stop imposing grazing fees, trespass and collection notices, horse and livestock impoundments, restrictions on hunting, fishing and gathering, as well as arrests, and rescind all notices already made to that end, inflicted on Western Shoshone people while using their ancestral lands.

7. In accordance with article 9 (1) of the Convention, the Committee requests that the State party provide it with information on action taken to implement the present decision by 15 July 2006.
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NVMojo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 05:41 AM
Response to Original message
1. Background on the Dann sisters, Mary died last year
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WarNoMore Donating Member (530 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 06:15 AM
Response to Original message
2. I'm glad I signed a petition that gets some results.
I just wonder how well the government will follow the recommedations.
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NVMojo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 06:24 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. thanks for signing the petition!!
This is important and a huge step.
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