Magazine article Earth Island Journal

UN Investigates US Human Rights

Magazine article Earth Island Journal

UN Investigates US Human Rights

Article excerpt

For the first time in history, a United Nations delegation conducted an investigation of alleged human rights violations inside the US. In February, Abdelfattah Amor of the UN Commission on Human Rights arrived in the Black Mesa/Big Mountain region to investigate charges of forced relocation, religious persecution and environmental degradation of native lands.

The hearings were the result of a 1997 complaint filed by the Dineh (Navajo) accusing the US Federal Government of violating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Dineh hoped that the hearings would pressure the US to repeal Public Laws 93-531 and 104-301, which have allowed authorities to deny the Dineh access to water and firewood. Dineh families are not allowed to make improvements to their homes and their livestock has been confiscated. The US has consistently blocked attempts to address these grievances in US courts. The Dineh hope the UN will formally charge the US with human rights violations.

British-owned Peabody Coal Company (PCC), the world's largest privately-held coal company, operates the Black Mesa/Kayenta strip mine in the heart of the Black Mesa region of the Dineh reservation. Over 4,000 burial and sacred sites have been destroyed as a result of strip mining. The Dineh state that Public Laws 93-531 and 104-301 were written specifically to promote PCC's interests in the region.

The Dineh and Hopi reservations sit atop one of the largest aquifers in the Southwest. PCC has been operating coal slurry pipelines that transport coal to Las Vegas and Southern California without replacing the massive amounts of water the pipelines draw from the aquifer, as required by US mining regulations. …

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