The following is a press release by Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) about a protest action against seabed quarrying in Manila Bay. DGR Asia Pacific is also a collaborator of the protest.
Alyansa Tigil Mina together with Deep Green Resistance and Local Autonomous Network trooped to the Senate during the joint hearing on seabed quarrying today for a peaceful protest action dubbed “Food Not Quarry” as they asked the Senate to urge President Bongbong Marcos, Jr. to issue an Executive Order suspending all Manila Bay reclamation projects.
ATM submitted its Position Paper on Seabed Quarrying during the joint hearing of the Senate Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change and the Senate Committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement.
“ATM respectfully calls on the distinguished members of the Philippine Senate to urge President Marcos Jr. to issue an executive order formalizing his August 9 announcement that reclamation projects in Manila Bay are suspended,” said the group in their position paper.
“Despite President Marcos’ announcement suspending the Manila Bay reclamation projects, we still observe an increase in sand mining, river dredging and seabed quarrying in Cagayan, Zambales, Bataan, and Cavite. These activities appear to provide filling materials for Manila Bay reclamation projects,” said Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator.
ATM’s position paper further notes that interviews with Cavite fishing communities revealed: the absence or lack of consultations before seabed quarrying activities were permitted; frequent incidents of dredging ships damaging fishing nets; and, sharp decline in fish catch since the dredging started.
The group called for the inclusion of people’s organizations, coastal communities, and civil society groups in the on-going cumulative assessment by the DENR.
“We also call on the Senate to hold accountable concerned government officials and private actors for the environmental damage and human rights violations caused by the seabed quarrying projects,” Garganera said.
“We likewise demand the rehabilitation of marine resources and compensation of coastal families whose rights and livelihood were adversely affected.”
Outside the Senate building, the protestors demanded the “eventual halt or cancellation of seabed quarrying projects that destroy fishing grounds and municipal waters, and bring about hunger and poverty to nearby communities.”
“Our direct action aims to surface the discontent surrounding seabed quarrying in San Nicholas Shoal Cavite as well as other areas.
We would also like to bring attention to the need for sustainable projects that ensure food security, especially in the midst of the climate crisis,” said Garganera.
Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano resurfaced
Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano (two activists abducted on September 2) have resurfaced. There are two versions of what happened to them.
In the official version (published September 16), the governmental law enforcement agencies claim that the two women were not abducted but left on their free will. They also claimed that they wanted to leave the group against Manila Bay Reclamation Project but were afraid to do so. As a result they fled from their homes and surrendered to the military. This news story highlights the official statement of the story.
The military presented the two women in a press conference on September 20. The aim of the press conference was to “debunk the abduction propaganda.” The two women were supposed to support the official version of the event. However, when Castro took the floor, she boldly claimed that she was abducted and forced to sign affidavit in military camps. Tamano supported Castro’s claim, after which the press conference was halted abruptly. Thankfully, the women were released hours after the conference in the presence of their families and human rights activists. A report of the press conference can be found here.
As a movement becomes more effective, the repression against it becomes stronger. The powerful will do anything in their power to destroy the movement. DGR commends the bravery of Castro and Tamano, for maintaining their courage and commitment to the natural world despite the hardships.
DGR is now selling a campaign shirt to support the operation cost of our ongoing campaign in the Philippines. We strongly opposed the Seabed Quarrying in San Nicolas Shoal in Cavite and Manila Bay Reclamation Projects which cause a wide ecological marine destruction and kill the livelihood of thousands of small fisherfolks around Manila Bay.
For every shirt that you purchase, DGR Asia Pacific will get P200 pesos that we will use in our activity and actions about Seabed Quarrying and Reclamations.
To order a shirt, please send us a message on our FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/dgrasiapacific/
Editor’s Note: With the ineffectiveness of the current environmental movement becoming more and more apparent, people are turning to other means to save the natural world. DGR believes in the use of any technique to save the natural world. However, we also believe that caution should be expanded towards the so called “renewable” energy as well. Also care should be taken in what actions would happen in declaring a climate emergency.
By Chuck Collins/Common Dreams
The 1960s folk singer Malvina Reynolds wrote a song: “It Isn’t Nice,” singing, “It isn’t nice to block the doorway. It isn’t nice to go to jail. There are nicer ways to do it. But the nice ways always fail.”
Keep Malvina in mind as you read about the climate protests next week and in the days to come, including Climate Defiance blocking the doors to Citigroup because of their financing of new oil and gas projects. Prepare to witness a militant escalation of tactics aimed at the fossil fuel industry and their role in delaying society’s response to climate change.
After a summer of floods, fires, droughts, record heat, and weather disruption, we are clearly moving into the “new abnormal,” fueled by increased greenhouse gas emissions.
Yet even President Biden can’t seem to mouth the words “climate emergency.” As part of the June budget deficit deal, Biden approved an expedited Mountain Valley gas pipeline project along with an unprecedented legal shield against delaying lawsuits.
There are still avenues and pressure points for humanity to avert the worst outcome of climate disruption, which is an extinction event. But this will require bold action in what scientists call the critical decade ahead.
A new United Nations global climate report card finds countries need to catch up in meeting their Paris Agreement goals in reducing emissions. We would be making more progress if an unrepentant fossil fuel industry wasn’t using its considerable clout to block the transition to a clean energy future.
As global leaders gather in New York City for Climate Week and other United Nations meetings, hundreds of thousands will join the March to End Fossil Fuels. Some of them will be “blocking the doorways.”
Actions in Europe presage US coming attractions. Extinction Rebellion UK has blocked roads and building entrances, Just Stop Oil activists threw soup at paintings and disrupted cultural events, while other European activists blocked private jet runways.
Their focus on fossil fuel corporations makes sense. Investigative reporting has revealed that the largest fossil fuel companies, including Shell and ExxonMobil, have known about the dangerous repercussions of burning coal, gas and oil for decades. And this week The Wall Street Journal offered its own expose about Exxon’s internal strategy to downplay climate risk.
If governments and the public had known what these corporate leaders knew four decades ago, we could have moved more quickly to a safe energy transition. Instead, the industry has “run out the clock”—making low-hanging fruit adjustments impossible and putting our planet on a trajectory towards ecosystem collapse right up until the present moment.
The leaders of a couple dozen global energy corporations are making conscious decisions to build new infrastructure to extract and burn billions of tons of carbon and methane presently sequestered. A Guardian expose identified 195 carbon bomb projects that would each burn a billion tons of carbon over their lifetime. Private airports are making plans to expand capacity for private jet travel, one of the least defensible forms of luxury excess.
In this context, more people are abandoning our political system as the arena for making change, focusing on private sector responses such as carbon capture technologies, and using militant direct actions to block new oil, gas, and coal infrastructure.
Disruptive direct action, such as efforts by Extinction Rebellion and Climate Defiance, are critical to drawing attention to the fight, an urgency that will only grow as ecological stability unravels. On Earth Day last year, a Colorado activist, Wynn Bruce self-immolated himself on the steps of the Supreme Court as they handed down a decision undermining climate protections.
The collision course between ecological realities and our insufficient societal responses will only intensify. The coming decade will see more Wynn Bruce acts of desperation and eco-sabotage, like that depicted in the dramatic new film, How to Blow Up a Pipeline and the nonfiction book by Andreas Malm with the same name.
Works of future fiction may be preparing us for what may lay ahead. In Ministry for the Future, Kim Stanley Robinson depicts a murky “black ops” group that leads to private jets falling from the sky and hostage-taking.
In my novel, Altar to an Erupting Sun, a group of terminally-ill grandmothers calling themselves the Good Ancestors self-immolate themselves in the lobby of ExxonMobil, a wake-up call that mobilizes humanity. Other fictional activists focus on preparing their New England communities to face a disrupted future by building local food resilience, mutual aid, and the capacity to welcome climate refugees. In The Deluge, author Stephen Markley describes the radicalization of right and left-wing activists to rising sea level rise and economic collapse.
There are still avenues and pressure points for humanity to avert the worst outcome of climate disruption, which is an extinction event. But this will require bold action in what scientists call the critical decade ahead. What we need is a bold “just transition” program that ends fossil fuels as soon as possible, including a declaration of a climate emergency, a moratorium on new fossil fuel infrastructure, and the elimination of government subsidies for oil, gas, and coal, and its timely phase-out.
Until this program can move forward, be prepared to find people blocking the doorways.
“Direct action is all we have left. Save the world. #Melbourneclimatestrike IMG_5249” by John Englart (Takver) is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
Editor’s Note: One of the indicators of the success of any movement is the level of oppression by the powerful. The protests against logging at Fairy Creek on Vancouver Island, Canada, are an illustration of this. Fairy Creek is home to old-growth forests and has been targeted by forest product industries. Two years ago, activists joined hands with indigenous people to protest the logging. Now renewed efforts to protect the old-growth forests have been met with force by the RCMP. We thank Brenda Norrell for permission to repost this piece.
By Brenda Norrell/Censored News
Background to Fairy Creek
The last time the world was watching Fairy Creek, we witnessed the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history. Well over 1,000 Indigenous and non-Indigenous forest defenders were arrested by the RCMP over months of tense standoffs in 2021 as activists sought to halt the logging of rare ancient trees.
The courts hammered that movement, with charges and bail conditions keeping many away, and the tussle in the trees went dormant for most of the last two years.
A new blockade, led by Indigenous youth and supported by non-Indigenous allies, has just been erected on a key bridge crossing an arterial logging road. The RCMP’s specialized tactical team that responds to land defense actions is present and surveilling the camp. A raid could come any day, and having media on the ground is of crucial importance to keep tabs on police and document the latest developments as land defenders seek to protect their unceded territories from old-growth logging.
Brandi Morin, an Indigenous journalist and author who has won a number of major awards, including a Canadian Digital Publishing Award and an Edward R. Murrow award in the U.S., is getting there to bring you the story from Fairy Creek’s new front lines.
She’ll be joined by World Press Photo of the Year-winning photojournalist Amber Bracken, reuniting a dream team that last joined forces to tell the story of First Nations communities fleeing wildfires in Alberta.
Latest crackdowns by RCMP
Three forest protectors were arrested on Tuesday [August 15] protecting the old-growth forests west of Victoria, as Canada continues to target Native people with police operatives protecting the interest of destructive industries. The police ops are British Columbia’s C-IRG, the Community Industry Response Group.
Mourning the invasion of the militarized police squad who arrested the forest defenders, who were his guests, Pacheedaht First Nation Elder Bill Jones said,
“We are at the end times of our great forests.”
Cree journalist Brandi Morin, and photojournalist Amber Bracken, were there.
“The militarized RCMP of the C-IRG unit was also at the Savage Patch raid yesterday. At 6: am Amber and I saw some of them loading their gear to Lake Cowichan and then we raced out to the blockade, cause the raid was on its way.
“Turns out these guys hiked in behind the bridge where the old growth area is, tore the owl structure down and threw the wood in the river below. And then were guarding the bridge.”
Calling on the international community, Peace Brigades International Canada said,
“We draw the attention of the international community to the RCMP C-IRG raid against land defenders and allies protecting old-growth forest on Pacheedaht territory in Canada.”
Cree journalist Brandi Morin said,
“RCMP C-IRG unit raided and dismantled the Savage Patch blockade to protect old-growth forests from being logged this morning. Three land defenders were arrested including Uncle Ricco, Cree Matriarch, and two settler supporters.”
Morin described the Canadian police raid on Tuesday,
“RCMP Sgt. Charney grabbed me after he and others threatened me with arrest when I refused to follow their media exclusion zones during the C-IRG Unit raid of the Savage Patch blockade against old growth logging. I did, however, inform them that I knew of my rights as a journalist and their exclusion zones are illegal.”
The Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled in 2021 in its Fairy Creek decision:
“Exclusion zones, checkpoints, searches, and restrictions on media members clearly interfere with important liberties, including freedom of movement, freedom of expression (including freedom of the press), and freedom of peaceful assembly.”
RCMP’s federal watchdog agency opened a probe into the operations of the C-IRG, a special unit that polices protests against resource extraction in British Columbia, CBC reports.
Abolish C-IRG said,
“Due to the increasing amount of indigenous-led anti-resource extraction movements in British Columbia, the Community-Industry Response Group was born. C-IRG is unique to British Columbia. They are militarized, have no budget limit, and the officers get paid handsomely to force pipelines, mines, dams, and logging through unceded indigenous territories, without consent. This is just another extension of the RCMP’s original task – to remove and separate people from the land and enforce colonial rule. They do not keep us safe, they protect capital.”
Statement from Elder Bill Jones on August 15, 2023
Today, we mourn once again as the militarized police squad raided our peaceful and Indigenous-led camp near Fairy Creek on Trunk Road 11. Again, these brave people were there on my unceded land as my guests, guests who had come to protect what’s left of the old growth forests. Once again, they put themselves on teh line after hearing that the NDP government had approved several cutblocks up that forestry road. Some of those cutblocks include old-growth forests.
We cannot keep cutting our great Mother Earth like this. Once these great forests are gone, they are gone forever. We set up these camps as a last resort. The government refused to change their forestry polices and Tal Cedar has stated in their forest “stewardship” plan that they will harvest every last old-growth tree available to them. The loss of every tree is an affront to my Indigenous rights, sovereignty and title, as it is to every Indigenous person. It is also a loss to all peoples as we are as once and we must learn to stand together as one.
I say again, the forest is my cathedral and my place of spiritual meditation. Government and industry cannot come to my lands and destroy my cathedral and expect us to do nothing.
I say thank you to all those forest defenders who built the amazing screech owl sculpture on the bridge and held the camp.
Thank you to all those who donated and supported the camp.
And I applaud the three brave forest defenders who were arrested and released today. I admire your courage in facing the relentless force of the dozens of CIRG officers who showed up to destroy your camp and arrest you.
I also remind government and industry that it is laughable to charge us with offenses and call us conspirators when we are at the end times of our great forests.
We will continue to do what we can to protect out great Mother Earth.
You can also listen to our latest Green Flame episode on Fairy Creek blockade with Joshua Wright:
Photo by DDP on Unsplash
Editor’s Note: Protests and demands by the mainstream environmental movement has yet failed to make any substantial changes in the ecological health of the natural world. Day by day, the situation is getting worse. Ecosabotage, on the other hand, deals directly with the problem and stops the powerful’s ability to control nature. The following is a communique submitted anonymously to, and originally published by, Unsalted Counter Info.
Reportback from some valve turners
It is with a heavy heart and hazy skies we announce that 2 different pipeline valves were turned off along the Line 5 route on Anishinaabae land in the great lakes region.This was done on the 13th anniversary of the Kalamazoo River oil spill.This was the 2nd largest inland oil spill in amerikkkan history, dumping 1,000,000 gallons of tar sands crude oil into the river and causing untold damage to the water, land and those who live on it.
Currently, Enbridge is preparing to construct a concrete tunnel beneath the waters of the so-called Great Lakes to house a dual pipeline system in order to increase flow rates and carry even more tar sands from the lands of the north to refineries in the south. The Straits tunnel project is meant to replace a 70 year old pipe that is hastily secured to the bottom of the lake bed, even free floating in some areas.
Enbridge claims that the tunnel is safe, but a tunnel project beneath the straits is a resource intensive project. The tar sands would continue to be extracted, desecrating the land in northern geographies. The refineries in the south still pumping out toxic fumes that pollute nearby Black neighborhoods. The camps of workers near both the straits and the Bad River reroute still disappearing Indigenous women and relatives.The companies that rely on Enbridge oil still operating in the towns and cities, underpaying workers and enacting anti-Black and anti-Indigenous violence in nearby communities.The tunnel itself, bored through the bedrock beneath the water, containing two high-volume pipelines transporting millions of barrels of oil monthly, operated by a company with a long history of environmental catastrophe.
It’s easy to turn a valve. Every 10 or so miles along the pipeline route there is a pump station. Some of these pump stations are larger than others, some containing more of Enbridge’s infrastructure like work trucks, electrical stations, dynamic machinery, communication systems, and field offices. For us, we found pump stations that simply contained a valve and a small brick structure that contains basic comms and electrical components. Many of these places are remote, with response times that vary from 20 minutes to over an hour. Pump stations often contain a high-definition camera with a motion sensor mounted looking directly at the valve. When the motion sensor is triggered, the structure becomes heavily illuminated by flood lights and begins recording. Nothing some spray paint can’t fix! The structures are always surrounded by a fence and are positioned next to or on top of a service road. The pipeline route is easy to see from a satellite image, as it cuts a clear path through the forest. The valve itself sometimes has a nut that is fitted with a large wrench and turned clockwise until you hear a series of musical notes, indicating that the pressure in the pipe has changed. At some valves, there was actually a big red button that just said STOP, which stops flow immediately. For us, we found it incredibly important to call the emergency Enbridge number listed on the facility and tell them we were shutting off the valve. The engineer on the other side of the line sounded very panicked, and immediately shut off flow to the entirity of Line 5. We did this 5 minutes before actually turning the valve, to ensure that the shut down would happen safely, obviously oil spills aren’t something we want to happen as a result of our actions.
In order to protect the water, the land and all the relatives that live on it, companies like Enbridge must stop extractive projects like tar sands. They must stop the flow of oil, because all of our lives depend on it.
And if they don’t, we will.
Photo by Igal Ness on Unsplash
The 2023 DGR conference is scheduled for late August in northern California. This annual gathering is an opportunity for our community to share skills, reflect on our work, strengthen our connections, and plan for the future. While this conference is only open to DGR members, we do invite friends and allies on a case-by-case basis. If you’re interested in attending, please contact us, and if you’d like to donate to support the conference, click here.
Editor’s Note: A successful environmental movement will result from a coordination between aboveground political action and underground action against critical infrastructures. For security of the overall movement, DGR remains an aboveground organization. We do not have any links with any sort of underground groups. The following is a piece that is republished from Act for Freedom about three attacks against critical infrastructure in Chile.
Via Sans Nom (trans. by Act for Freedom)
Los Álamos (Chile), June 9, 2023. The pylon of the high-voltage power line failed to withstand the shock of the attack.
In the course of one long weekend, three explosive attacks hit various critical infrastructures in Chile. On Friday June 9, 2023, two high-voltage pylons were hit first. One at dawn in the municipality of Placilla, some ten kilometers east of Valparaíso, where Chile’s largest port and industrial facilities are located. The second, at around 11 p.m., took place in Los Álamos (Bío Bío region), home to the special forces bases of the Carabineros and the Navy, one of the centers of Chile’s repressive policies. While the first pylon, with two of its four support bars damaged, remained standing, the second collapsed to the ground, cutting off power between Cañete and Tirúa in the Los Álamos area.
The third attack occurred at around 3am on Tuesday June 13, on the railway bridge over the Itata river in the Ñuble region. The bridge, whose sleepers were blown up and rails shattered by the explosion, is used for freight trains, and in particular for the movement of raw materials such as the thousands of industrial eucalyptus trees destined to supply the Nueva Aldea pulp mill of the Arauco company (Angelini Group). Owned by Chile’s national railroad company (EFE), the line was operated by Ferrocarril del Pacífico (Fepasa), the main rail freight company in the south-central region of the country.
Following this series of coordinated attacks on strategic infrastructure in three different regions of Chile, (leftist) President Gabriel Boric took the opportunity to call an extraordinary meeting of all branches of government, at which he set the objective of making a reform proposal within 30 days, to simplify the Anti-Terrorism Act to facilitate prosecutions. As is always the case in such cases, the aim is on the one hand for the government to make an announcement to assert that it is not standing idly by, and on the other hand to reinforce the authoritarian face of the state by bringing out an old project that was already in its files. Finally, investigators from the Carabinieri’s OS-9 group announced that they would be studying footage of toll roads located near the attack sites, and that they were also in the process of collecting data on which phones were active near the affected infrastructures on the days and times of the attacks.
On June 14, 2023, in a communiqué sent to the press, these three consecutive attacks were claimed by a new coordination that had joined the panorama of diffuse guerrilla groups already present in Chile (notably in Mapuche territory): the Movimiento 18 de Octubre, or October 18 Movement, whose name is an explicit reference to the Chilean uprising that broke out on that day four years ago, following an increase in ticket prices. On October 18, 2019, the first day of the uprising, 77 of the capital’s 136 metro stations had been destroyed (20 of them completely burned), before it spread over several months.
In the communique, the October 18 Movement begins by taking responsibility for “three explosive attacks on capitalist infrastructures: the sabotage perpetrated in Valparaíso by Comando Mauricio Arenas Bejas, in Bío Bío by Comando Lafkenche Pilmaiquen and in Ñuble by Comando Luisa Toledo”.
One of these groups takes its name from Mapuche territory (the Pilmaiquen river flows through the territory of the coastal Mapuche, the Lafkenche). The second is named after Mauricio Arenas Bejas, one of those responsible for the attempted assassination of General-Dictator Pinochet on September 7, 1986, who was arrested and shot seven times in the body by the police the following year, then escaped from Púbica prison in 1990, before dying the following year at the age of 33. As for Luisa Toledo, who died in 2021 at the age of 82, she was a left-wing militant respected in many revolutionary milieus, notably for her struggle under the Pinochet dictatorship (but not only) for the memory of her two sons murdered by carabinieri in 1985 (they were members of the MIR), and also for her participation/defense of riotous demonstrations under democracy, including those of the October 2019 uprising.
As for the more precise content of this first claim of the October 18 Movement, which concludes with “Freedom for all political prisoners of the revolt, for the Mapuche, for the anarchists and for the subversives. A new ghost haunts Chile”, here is a longer excerpt translated from Spanish:
“The whole legal-political framework [that of drafting a new Constitution] undoubtedly seeks to consolidate the new process of capitalist accumulation through dispossession, where land and water have become the new commodities at the expense of the people under the pretext of economic growth. And here again, the government, which claims to be left-wing, has put its stamp of approval on the TPP11 [Free Trade Treaty between 11 countries in the Pacific zone signed in 2018], with the expansion of the Los Bronces mining company, the Quintero-Puchuncavi industrial pollution and its crude denial of the ecological disaster that the logging industry has generated in Wallmapu…. The new order conceived by the political and business classes seeks to annihilate the dignified Mapuche resistance that, day after day, confronts the logging companies and landowners who usurp their ancestral territory. In recent weeks, we’ve seen how the government and the right have orchestrated an operation to punish Mapuche political prisoners in Angol prison, dispersing them to different jails and removing them from their communities and families. We understand that Mapuche resistance upsets the capitalists, who have their interests in Mapuche territory, and that’s why they need to strike at their morale in an attempt to subdue them. But we also know that they won’t succeed despite the state of emergency, the unprecedented militarization and the legislative agenda of the political class that has passed the law against timber theft and will soon enact the Ley de usurpaciones, which aims to protect private property against land occupations [by lengthening the duration of sentences and making it easier to incarcerate illegal occupiers]. In this context, we send our fraternal greetings to the people of the Mapuche nation, its political prisoners on hunger strike and its communities in resistance, and may they count on us for future conspiracies.”
And finally, it would have been a shame to not mention the official statement by Chile’s Attorney General, Ángel Valencia, interviewed on Tuesday June 20 on T13 Radio, in which he commented on the triple attack: “Up to now, we have investigated incidents involving explosive devices located in urban areas. The fact that these were in rural areas presents us with an additional challenge in terms of evidence. In urban areas, we have surveillance cameras or Bip! cards [urban transport cards] and other electronic elements which help us to locate those responsible for the attacks. In the countryside, it’s much harder to find such clues. We’re talking here about attacks on critical infrastructure, and there’s no doubt that the situation is worrying.”
Photo by Brandon Hoogenboom on Unsplash
Editor’s Note: In order to deter the tribal members and activists from fighting for Thacker Pass, Lithium Nevada has sued them. Unsurprisingly, as a corporation, they have greater funds to sustain their legal action. We appeal for all who can to support in whatever way you can. The details for financial donations are at the end of the post.
Lithium Nevada Corporation has filed a lawsuit against Protect Thacker Pass and seven people for opposing the Thacker Pass lithium mine.
The lawsuit is similar to what is called a “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation,” or SLAPP suit, aimed at shutting down free speech and protest. The suit aims to ban the prayerful land defenders from the area and force them to pay monetary damages which could total millions of dollars.
“This lawsuit is targeting Native Americans and their allies for a non-violent prayer to protect the 1865 Thacker Pass massacre site,” said Terry Lodge, attorney working with the group. “These people took a moral stand in the form of civil disobedience. They are being unjustly targeted with sweeping charges that have little relationship to the truth, and we will vigorously defend them.”
The lawsuit targets Dean Barlese, respected elder and spiritual leader from the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, Dorece Sam from the Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone Tribe, Bhie-Cie Zahn-Nahtzu (Te-Moak Shoshone and Washoe), Bethany Sam from the Standing Rock Sioux and Kutzadika’a Paiute Tribes, Founding Director of Community Rights US Paul Cienfuegos, and Max Wilbert and Will Falk of Protect Thacker Pass, which is also named in the suit.
They are charged with Civil Conspiracy, Nuisance, Trespass, Tortious Interference with Contractual Relations, Tortious Interference with Prospective Economic Advantage, and Unjust Enrichment.
As part of the lawsuit, Lithium Nevada has been granted a Temporary Restraining Order which restricts the defendants and “any third party acting in concert” with them from interfering with construction, blocking access roads, or even being in the area. The accused parties are not involved in planning further protest activity at the mine site.
Regardless, these allegations are alarming to the Great Basin Native American communities who believe their religious practices are protected by the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978. The lawsuit’s language places fear in the hearts of Native American people who want to pray and visit their ancestors’ gravesites.
The case references instances of non-violent prayer and protest that took place on April 25th, and a prayer camp named after Ox Sam (survivor of the 1865 massacre and ancestor of Dorece Sam and Dean Barlese) which was established at Thacker Pass on May 11th. On June 8th, that camp was raided and dismantled by police. One young indigenous woman was arrested and transported to jail inside a pitch-black box. In the aftermath of the raid, a ceremonial fire was extinguished, sacred objects were put in trash bags, and tipi poles were broken.
The American Indian Religious Freedom Act states that it is “the policy of the United States to protect and preserve for American Indians their inherent right of freedom to believe, express, and exercise the traditional religion of the American Indian…including…access to sites.”
Dorece Sam, President of the Native American Church of the State of Nevada:
“I take my grandkids to Peehee Mu’huh to teach them to pray for our unburied ancestors whose remains are scattered there, to collect our holy plants, to hunt and fish, and to collect medicinal herbs. The ancestors who were killed at Thacker Pass have never been given the proper prayers for their spirits. Lithium Nevada is desecrating our unceded lands and our ancestors’ resting places.”
Dean Barlese, respected elder and spiritual leader from the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe:
“The Indian wars are continuing in 2023, right here. America and the corporations who control it should have finished off the ethnic genocide, because we’re still here. My great-great-grandfather fought for this land in the Snake War and we will continue to defend the sacred. Lithium Nevada is a greedy corporation telling green lies.”
“Our people couldn’t return to Thacker Pass for fear of being killed in 1865, and now in 2023 we can’t return or we’ll be arrested. Meanwhile, bulldozers are digging our ancestors graves up. This is what Indigenous peoples continue to endure. That’s why I stood in prayer with our elders leading the way.”
“Lithium Nevada is a greedy corporation on the wrong side of history when it comes to environmental racism and desecration of sacred sites. It’s ironic to me that I’m the trespasser because I want to see my ancestral land preserved.”
“Virtually every single accusation against us is a lie, and of course the corporation’s leaders know this. But our actions have scared them, so they are lashing out against classic nonviolent direct-action tactics. And this is yet another prime example of why we need to dismantle the structures of law that grant so many so-called constitutional ‘rights’ to business corporations, like access to the courts.”
Max Wilbert, Protect Thacker Pass:
“Around the world, a land defender is killed every two days. Murdering activists is hard to get away with in the United States, so corporations do this instead. This lawsuit is aimed at destroying the lives of people non-violently defending the land. But we’re not giving up. There are millions of people opposing this mine, and this fight will continue.”
“I’ve been involved in directly petitioning the courts for two years to enforce tribal rights to consultation without success. Now Paiutes and Shoshones are being sued for peacefully defending the final resting places of their massacred ancestors. Lithium Nevada is just another mining corporation bullying Native Americans once again. This pattern has got to stop.”
Lithium Nevada corporation has been locked in legal battles since 2021, when four environmental groups, a local rancher, and several tribes sued the Federal Government to attempt to overturn the permits for the mine. The suits allege failures of consultation, violation of endangered species law and water laws, and dozens of other infractions. The most recent filing in an ongoing Federal Court case brought by three local tribes was filed on Friday, arguing that Lithium Nevada needs to halt construction while it consults with tribes about the Thacker Pass massacre sites. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California will hear oral arguments in other cases later this month.
The news comes as Lithium Nevada’s parent corporation, Lithium Americas, has been implicated in four alleged human rights violations and environmental crimes related to their lithium mining operation in Cauchari-Oloroz, Argentina.
The defendants are seeking attorneys to join the legal defense team, and monetary donations to their legal defense fund. You can donate via credit or debit card, PayPal (please include a note that your donation is for Thacker Pass legal defense), or by check.