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  • Dave Archambault II, head of the Standing Rock Sioux nation waits to speak at the Human Rights Council at the U.N. in Geneva, Switzerland, Sept. 20, 2016.

    Dave Archambault II, head of the Standing Rock Sioux nation waits to speak at the Human Rights Council at the U.N. in Geneva, Switzerland, Sept. 20, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

The head of the Standing Rock Sioux nation said the U.S. legal system has failed to protect their sacred lands.

The chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux nation took the fight against the Dakota Access pipeline to the United Nations in Geneva Tuesday, as he called on the organization to support his Native American people’s fight against the “destruction of our sacred places” by the pipeline.

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“The world needs to know what is happening to the Indigenous peoples of the United States,” Chairman Dave Archambault II told members of the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva, Switzerland

“This pipeline violates our treaty rights and our human rights, and it violates the U.N.’s own Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I hope the U.N. will use its influence and international platform to protect the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.”

Over the past few weeks, the resistance movement to stop construction of the pipeline has brought together more than 100 Indigenous groups and sparked a wave of international solidarity.

The 1,172-mile Dakota Access pipeline was supposed to start up by the end of the year, transporting more than 470,000 barrels per day of crude oil through four states into Illinois before it hooks up to another pipeline heading down to Texas.

Last week several federal government agencies suspended work on the construction of a small portion of the US3.8 billion-pipeline, pending a more thorough review.

However the companies behind the project have plowed on, desecrating sacred Native American sites and fueling the movement.

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“Our lives and our rights are threatened by Energy Transfer Partners,” said Archambault. “This company has shown total disregard for our rights and our sacred sites.”

He added that U.S. court have repeatedly failed to support the rights of Native Americans and protect their lands in violation of the U.N.’s own Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

"The United States has its laws, and pipelines know how to comply with all the laws, but just because something is legal, that doesn't make it right,” he warned, adding that his people on the ground are protesting to “expose the wrongs and the flaws with the permitting process for pipelines."

Native American nations and environmentalists have vowed to continue the fight against the pipeline until the project is permanently suspended.

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