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March 12, 1999
From: American Indian Movement Grand Governing Council
Mid Year Meeting
LacCourteOreilles Ojibwe Nation, March 6-7, 1999
Press Contact: Vernon Bellecourt

In defense to charges of crimes against humanity and other war crimes, German military officers, political leaders, industrialists (Krups) and the German people, during their trial before the Nuremburg War Crimes Tribual, defended themselves by saying, "As subordinates, we were only following orders." The German people plead innocent by ignorance by declaring that "We did not know what was going on in the concentration camps."

Justice Robert Jackson, of the United States Supreme Court who was Chief American Prosecutor at the Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal challenged their defense in these words:

"If certain acts and violations of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether Germany commits them, or whether the United States commits them. We are not prepared to impose a code of criminal conduct against others that we would not be willing to have invoked against us."

On Thursday, March 10, 1999 speaking in Guatemala City, President Clinton expressed regret for the United State's role in Guatemala's 36 Year Civil War saying:

"Washington was wrong to have supported Guatemala Security Forces in a brutal counter-insurgency campaign that slaughtered thousands of civilians." He went on to say, "It is important that I state clearly that support for military forces or intelligence units which engaged in violent and widespread repression of the kind described in the report of the Historical Clarification Commission was wrong." Clinton said, reading carefully from handwritten notes, "And the United States must not repeat that mistake."

It is not enough, Bill, to say that "it was wrong." We need a better explanation. We need a lot more sooner rather than later. At this very moment the Guatemalaization of Colombia has been going on for some time now, and in process against the people of Chiapas, Mexico.

It is because of United States' support for a series of military death-squad governments in Guatemala that, at least, 150,000 Mayan Indians and tens of thousands other Guatemalan civilians lost their lives. At least 467 villages have disappeared. Men, women, and children have been brutalized, tortured, raped, mutilated, and buried in mass graves throughout the countryside in Guatemala.

It is because of United States support for the Government of Colombia, in order to protect America's economic interest in Colombia, such as Occidental Petroleum's exploitation of the U'wa Indian Nation lands, that caused the deaths of Ingrid Washinawatok, citizen of the Menominee Nation first, as well a citizen of the United States, and Laheenae Gay, and Terence Freitas.

As we grieve this great loss and extend our love and condolences to the families, and the many friends who loved them very much, and as we are all with them as they return to the bosom of Sacred Mother Earth, we must carry on their struggle for peace, love, and justice.

Due to all of the conflicting reports coming out of Colombia, we are requesting an immediate international inquiry from all appropriate international bodies. We are requesting that the International Indian Treaty Council take the following action.

  1. Call on the Working Group on Indigenous People to move the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, and all appropriate United Nations organs at the highest level to launch an immediate investigation as to the role of the United States, the Colombian Government, Occidental Petroleum Company and other corporate entities, and the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC).

  2. We are calling on the Permanent United Nations War Crimes Tribunal to immediately launch an investigation of United States, Colombian, and Guatemalan Governments, and the various corporate executives for war crimes and other crimes against humanity.

  3. We call on Amnesty International to join us in these investigations.

  4. We call on the Boston-based Physicians for Human Rights who are doing forensic investigations of mass graves in Bosnia and Kosova to come to Guatemala and Colombia to examine all mass graves in these countries, which hold as many as 200,000 to 300,000 civilian victims in Guatemala, and 30,000 or more in Colombia.

We are not so naïve to expect that the United States Senate would investigate itself since past and present Senate and House Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committee Members are aware of these war crimes which makes them complicit and culpable.

Nonetheless, it is their duty to the American people, and the suffering people, and those in mass graves throughout the countryside of Guatemala and Colombia.

Speaking on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of Martin Luther King's Historic March on Washington, Vernon Bellecourt, National Representative to the American Indian Movement Grand Governing Council, with all of the civil rights and human rights leaders present, and all the national and international press corps in attendance, in his speech he revealed, at that time, that 35,000 Mayan Indian people had been murdered by the United State's CIA support for the brutal Guatemalan Governments of Lucas Garcia Romero, and followed by Efrain Rios Mont. Not one member of the press or the many"leaders" present responded to these obvious war crimes.

During the apartheid era in South Africa, many American politicians traveled to that country for meetings with apartheid leaders. Senator Ted Kennedy was one of them. After preaching to the South African Government leaders about the evils of apartheid for some time, Roelof "Pik" Botha, the Foreign Minister at that time, interrupted Senator Kennedy by saying:

Excuse me Senator, but some of us strongly feel that Americans are the last people in the world that can go around preaching morality. What we are doing to the blacks in South Africa today is what you have already done and continue to do to the American Indian."

To William Jefferson Clinton and Madeline Albright, who are at this very time preaching morality to the Serbs in Bosnia and Kosova, and Yugoslavia, and to the Chinese about their human rights violations, to now direct their full attention to what will prove to be United States Government complicity in this American holocaust.

INTERNATIONAL INDIAN TREATY COUNCIL is an NGO of the United Nations, Member of the Working Group on Indigenous People, and the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

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