PRESS STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE WORLDWIDE|
October 6, 2000
Ministry for Information,
Re: American Indian Movement Manifesto for the New Millennium
Article 1: Commission to Seek Justice for Ingrid Washinawatok
On Thursday, March 4, 1999, the bound, blindfolded and bullet ridden bodies of three American citizens, Ingrid Washinawatok, Lahene Gay and Terence Freitas were found lying about ten paces apart in a pasture near the Arauca River in Venezuela. Ingrid was a member of the Menominee Nation of Wisconsin, as well a prominent representative of the Indigenous Women's Network. Ingrid also represented the International Indian Treaty Council, a Non-governmental Organization (NGO) within the United Nations. Lahene and Terence were activists in their own write. The three had been kidnapped in Colombia seven days earlier by members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) while attending a conference, and assisting the U'wa Indian Nation of Colombia to develop school programs.
On Sunday, March 7, 1999, Raul Reyes, FARC's chief spokesman, said that FARC lamented what had happened and expressed its condolences to the government of the United States, the American people, and the families of the victims, for this "deplorable deed." While at that time denying that FARC had any role in the murders, Reyes stated that if the ongoing investigation found that FARC members had comitted the act, "there will be drastic sanctions."
On Tuesday, August 15, 2000, Colombian security forces murdered six school children and seriously wounded four others while Hernando Hiquita, who was helping his wife, a teacher, lead the children on an outing. Government forces opened fire on the children in the mountain village of Pueblo Rico, Colombia. These are the latest of more than 35,000 killed, many of these civilians, thus far in this war.
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 who 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 because of the United State's 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 in the past fifteen (15) years alone. (http://www.hrdata.aaas.org/ceh/report/english)
Speaking on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of Martin Luther King's Historic March on Washington, with all of the civil and human rights leaders present, and all the National and International press corps in attendance at that time, Vernon Bellecourt, National Representative to the American Indian Movement Grand Governing Council, in his speech, revealed that more than 35,000 Mayan Indian people had been murdered with United State's CIA support for the brutal Guatemalan Governments of Lucas Garcia Romero followed by Efrain Rios Mont. Not one member of the press or the many "leaders" present responded to these obvious war crimes, nor have they to this date.
These atrocities, war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed under the guise of fighting Communism. Today, the 1.3 billion aid package that Congress and the Clinton Administration approved for Colombia, which includes helicopter gun ships, and military training is under the guise of "interdicting drugs." These drugs should be interdicted in the suites and streets of America and elsewhere in the world. This action goes in the face of, and a blatant contradiction to the words and commitment made by President Bill Clinton in Guatemala City on March 10, 1999, and must be challenged.
During the 32nd Anniversary Conference of the American Indian Movement Grand Governing Council held on the Lac Courte O'reilles Ojibwa Nation in Wisconsin on July 11-13, 2000, we began the work of drafting the American Indian Movement Manifesto for the New Mellennium, which work is ongoing. One of the priorities was the establishment of a Commission to Seek Justice for Ingrid Washinawatok. While Ali El-Issa, the husband of Ingrid, sent his regrets that he could not be present during the 32nd Anniversary Conference, he supports the establishment of the Commission. Attached is his statement, which was read into the record of the Conference by the former Executive Director of the Indigenous Women's Network, and a prominent member of the American Indian Movement, Lisa Bellanger.
Following discussions with her husband, Ali El-Issa, as well other family members, the American Indian Movement Grand Governing Council issues the following communique' worldwide as a priority of the Manifesto for the New Mellennium.
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