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  •  Protesters display a banner to protest against the financing of the Dakota Access oil pipeline by Swiss banks UBS and Credit Suisse as participants arrive ahead of the annual shareholder meeting of Swiss bank UBS in Basel, Switzerland.

    Protesters display a banner to protest against the financing of the Dakota Access oil pipeline by Swiss banks UBS and Credit Suisse as participants arrive ahead of the annual shareholder meeting of Swiss bank UBS in Basel, Switzerland. | Photo: Reuters

"We were not welcomed," said Rachel Heaton, a Muckleshoot tribe member and Indigenous environmental leader.

"They are invested in the fossil fuel projects on our lands that again continue to oppress our people. So we are here to send a message to Credit Suisse that they need to divest from these projects."

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These were the words of Rachel Heaton, a Muckleshoot tribe member and Indigenous leader in the movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline, DAPL. She was speaking while touring Europe with four other “water protectors” who traveled to the continent to gain support against fossil fuel corporations that build pipelines which are known to pollute bodies of water.

VOA News reported that one of the group's objectives is to hit corporations and banks where it hurts most: in their pockets. This comes after the resistance encampment at Standing Rock was destroyed by U.S. security forces and TigerSwan, a U.S.-based firm with a deep background in global counterterrorism operations.

The Intercept obtained documents showing how TigerSwan, acting on behalf of its client, Energy Transfer Partners, responded to dismantle the Indigenous resistance camp.

"We are here to ask the banks to divest from the fossil fuel projects as they are contributing to the genocide of our people, the environmental racism that continues to take place, as well as the violation of our treaty rights,” Heaton said.

She added that the group of “water protectors” traveled to Geneva to make their appeal to Credit Suisse, one of the largest investors of DAPL, to divest from the project.

Credit Suisse, having invested US$1.4 billion in the pipeline that passes directly through Indigenous land, refused to meet with the group of activists.

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However, the group vowed to continue the struggle despite resistance to their cause.

United Nations officials, as well as civil society and non-governmental organizations, met with the group in Geneva. 

The group of activists have held steadfast in their efforts to bring greater awareness and respect for environmental rights.

According to VOA News, they crashed shareholder meetings at BNP Paribas, Natixis Bank and Societe Generale. Heaton said that in all cases they “were not welcomed."

"We were muffled out," she said. "We were booed.” She added that board members consistently avoided their questions and would not commit to divesting in the DAPL.


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