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Friends of the Earth International statement on Standing Rock

Posted Dec. 2, 2016 / Posted by: Kate Colwell

LAMPUNG, INDONESIA - Friends of the Earth International stands in solidarity with the water protectors at Standing Rock: Water is Life, and we stand for life.

We, Friends of the Earth International, the largest federation of grassroots environmental justice organizations from 75 countries, gathered at our Biennial General Meeting 2016 held in Lampung, Indonesia. Friends of the Earth International lends our voice to the international outcry that condemns the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline – a cry of resistance led by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and supported by the tribal governments of over 280 other tribes and allies from all over the world.

This growing global resistance opposes the Dakota Access pipeline because the pipeline trajectory is cutting through Native American sacred territories and unceded Treaty lands, and because it threatens air and water resources in the region and further downstream.

The Dakota Access pipeline, which would extend over 1000 miles across several U.S. states will threaten communities, farms, Tribal land, sensitive natural areas and wildlife habitat. If built, it would pass within just half a mile of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, destroying sacred sites and posing a devastating public health threat to the Tribe’s drinking water in the case of a spill – a case which history has taught us is not a question of “if”, but “when.” In short, the Dakota Access pipeline would constitute an existential threat to the Tribe’s culture and way of life.

Opposition to the pipeline continues to grow across the world. Since last April, an ever growing number of Native water protectors and their thousands of allies have converged peacefully at Standing Rock in the pipeline construction area to halt further construction of the project. In response to this peaceful, prayerful resistance, police from multiple U.S. states and agencies, members of the U.S. National Guard, and armed private security forces working for project sponsors have used military equipment, tactics and weapons to intimidate, assault, arrest and otherwise commit grievous human rights violations against water protectors and their allies. Indiscriminate use of attack dogs, rubber bullets, concussion grenades, tazers and mace are reported, while journalists covering the assault have been silenced and jailed. The violence unleashed on the protesters by security forces has already left hundreds injured. Water protectors were attacked with water cannons used in sub-zero temperatures, leading to life-threatening situations, and one protector faces a possible amputation of her arm after being hit with a concussion grenade. Peaceful demonstrators who have been arrested have been subjected to inhumane treatment that involved, among other things, being locked up naked, or cramped without food and warmth into dog kennels.

These abuses are sickening and intolerable – and are the current manifestation of a deplorable and violent history. The United States is a nation whose history is built on the systematic and brutal dispossession of indigenous peoples and the systemic and brutal exploitation of common resources for the profit of the few at the expense of the many. The current state-sanctioned violence in support of this pipeline reveals yet again how the exploitation of land, water, and other natural commons is inextricably linked to the exploitation and dispossession of the people who depend upon and safeguard our Mother Earth.

We therefore condemn the racist violence being waged upon the water protectors at Standing Rock, the criminalization of dissent, and the wanton use of force by both public agencies and private interests;

We call upon the United States executive branch and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw permits and bring an end to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, in keeping with the demands of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation;

We call on the financiers of the Dakota Access pipeline, including European, Asian, and U.S. banks*, to immediately cease financing Dakota Access LLC and Energy Transfer Crude Oil Company LLC, and publicly recognize and affirm the rights of indigenous communities to withhold consent from projects affecting their communities, in keeping with the principles of Free Prior and Informed Consent, as established under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and other international standards;

And, we express our solidarity with the tribal governments who have come together in prayer and nonviolent resistance to uphold their sacred duty protect the water and land from wanton exploitation and destruction.

Water is life, and we stand for life. 

*A credit agreement for up to $2.5 billion has been signed between Dakota Access LLC and Energy Transfer Crude Oil Company LLC and a number of global banks to construct the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and the Energy Transfer Crude Oil Pipeline. The credit agreement is led by Citigroup and includes the following financial institutions: BANK OF TOKYO MITSUBISHI UFJ, MIZUHO BANK, TD BANK, BAYERNLB, BBVA, BNP PARIBAS, CRÉDIT AGRICOLE S.A, DNB NORWAY, ICBC, ING, INTESA SANPAOLO, NATIXIS, SMBC, SOCIÉTÉ GÉNÉRALE, SUNTRUST, WELLS FARGO.

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Contact: Kate Colwell, Friends of the Earth U.S., (202) 222-0744, kcolwell@foe.org

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