Prepared by Marsha Monestersky,
Copyright 1999 Monestersky
The Dineh families residing on what is now called "Hopi Partitioned Lands" in the State of Arizona, have been participating in various United Nations fora. The purpose, to obtain their intervention to stop the United Sates Government from continuing its program under which their human dignity and very survival are at peril.
The Dineh have been told that the actions of the government are mandated by US law so that they have no recourse within US law to stop these attacks. With each day, more confiscations and threats take place, and each such incident causes irreparable harm to the human rights of its victims and to their communities.
Helena Begay from Cactus Valley Community in Black Mesa has just returned from Geneva Switzerland where she participated in the UN Working Group on Indigenous Peoples from July 26-30. Some of the text of an intervention she presented to the Working Group was posted recently to the Big Mountain list. As you may know, a Dineh Land Rights Communication was submitted last February to the Working Group at the invitation of Madam Erica Irene Daes, Chair of the Working Group and is a part of a UN Land Rights Study. Funding for this trip was provided by the World Council of Churches Program to Combat Racism.
Upon Helena's return she was asked to travel again to the United Nations, this time to New York to participate in the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. This is an official UN International Day. Her airplane ticket to New York was provided by the General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church. While there she will participate in the activities of the Day and will report on the activities of the Working Group on August 9-10, 1999.
Helena's presence in Geneva followed the participation of a delegation of 7, including Norris Nez, a Medicine Man from Sand Springs Community that participated in the 55th Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Two interventions made by Leonard Benally from Big Mountain Community and Peggy Scott from Star Mountain Community dealt with the activities of the US Bureau of Indian Affairs and issues of Religious Intolerance. Both interventions and a United Methodist Church News Release were translated into French, German, Russian and Spanish and are available on our web sites and on the United Methodist Church web site. From there a delegation of 3 traveled throughout Germany meeting with members of the German Parliament, NGOs and support people.
The Dineh people hope that by participating in processes within the United Nations and the international arena they can change the dynamics of negotiation at a national level. They believe that this involves the initiation of a mobilization of shame as the strongest sanction for the enforcement of their human rights. The fora they are involved in includes the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and the Working Group on Indigenous Populations where the Dineh hope to achieve the glare of international scrutiny on their issue in order to generate international solidarity around their human rights in the United Nations and in the Non Governmental Organization (NGO) community.
As a result of organizing and lobbying efforts by the Dineh and other NGOs, Mr. Abdelfattah Amor, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance made a site visit in February 1998 to Black Mesa. He presented his report to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva last April. A key finding of his Report "On the subject of Black Mesa, the Special Rapporteur calls for the observance of international law on freedom of religion and its manifestations." In UN-speak, this statement is fairly critical of the U.S., since he would not call for the observance of international law it is wasn’t already being honored. This was the first time a U.N. Human Rights organ officially and publicly took on investigation of a specific case against the United States.
To help empower UN activity the Dineh have obtained the support of over 250 NGOs that have signed petitions and issued proclamations supporting their right to their ancestral land above any consideration of settlement of a national interest. This includes such NGOs as the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church, the World Council of Churches, the NGO Committee for the International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples, FIAN International, KWIA, the Society of Threatened Peoples, etc.
The Dineh believe that the work of the United Nations aided by the active involvement of the NGOs can be a substantial catalyst for media attention and a powerful source of pressure, mostly through "quiet diplomacy" on U.S. policy.
The Dineh are currently working on some procedures that will be submitted to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, including a 1503 Procedure which relies on a confidential dialogue with concerned governments with the UN playing a mediational role. This complaint will relate to a consistent pattern of violations affecting a large number of people over a protracted period of time and will be submitted to the Centre for Human Rights, UN Office at Geneva.
The focus of it will address the recent issuance of Exclusion Orders to Dineh and non native supporters in advance of the February 1, 2000 deadline for forced relocation, along with the continuing violation of the Dineh peoples basic human rights, including their right to security, livelihood, and the right to free exercise of religion.
The 1503 procedure is what Sovereign Dineh Nation filed in March 1997 that led to Mr. Abdelfattah Amor, the Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance's historic visit to Black Mesa AZ in February 1998. The 1503 and other communications will only be admitted to the United Nations if there are reasonable grounds for them to believe that there is a consistent pattern of gross and reliably attested violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Committees of experts within these organizations and other organizations receive regular reports from the governments of States Parties and have adopted procedures to deal with complaints and disputes over the application and interpretation of ratified conventions such as exists in the case of the Dineh.
The Dineh believe that the UN system can help with human rights enforcement because it sets international human rights standards and promotes their adoption. All remedies to the people under US law have been exhausted, and the people are threatened with not only continuation of current abuses, but the intensified abuse that will result when the U.S. completes its "solution" to the problem over the next year. The UN, the international and national community represents a forum of last resort for the Dineh people.
The deadline of February 1, 2000, is only 6 months away. Please help us stop this tragedy of ethnocide, which can still be averted in its final expression. The news media of the world has focused long and intensely on "ethnic cleansing" in Kosovo. It's time that the international community and the American people see the "ethnic cleansing" that is happening within the borders of the United States.
Please let us know if we can provide you with any additional information, contact persons and phone numbers.
For further information please contact the: Sovereign Dineh Nation
E-mail: email@example.com Visit our Web sites:
Extraction and the Genocide of the Navajo People
How the West Was Lost
A thorough history of the problem was written
by Judith Nies and can be read online.
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For more information on this on-going human rights
crisis in the United States, visit my web page.
Bob Dorman, KD7FIZ