Standing Rock Camp Attorneys Urge DNB Bank of Norway to Divest in Dakota Access Pipeline
Photo copyright Rob Wilson
Red Owl Legal Collective/National Lawyers Guild Urges DNB, Bank of Norway, to Divest from Dakota Access Pipeline
By Brenda Norrell Censored News
CANNON BALL, North Dakota -- The Red Owl Legal Collective in Standing Rock Camp urges DNB, Bank of Norway, to divest from Dakota Access Pipeline. The attorneys, who are present in the camp of the water protectors at Standing Rock, state that the pipeline is in violation of international laws and Treaties, and responsible for massive human rights abuses being carried out by militarized police.
"DNB must immediately consider the consequences and ramifications of continuing to support the ‘wrong team’, in what is now known and will be remembered as one of the most profound violations of Native American sovereignty to occur in the United States," said Red Owl Legal Collective/National Lawyers Guild. "The Dakota Access Pipeline presents an unfolding disaster with respect to the rights of indigenous peoples and basic international human rights standards. The heavily-militarized reaction by North Dakota police, supported by officers from surrounding states, as well as by private security contractors working for Dakota Access, has crossed the line with respect to international human rights standards we expect nations and corporations to adhere to," the attorneys said in a statement today.
"Like any other large-scale energy infrastructure project, Dakota Access relies on financial institutions to provide the money it needs to construct its proposed pipeline. In addition to equity investment in the companies behind Dakota Access — which includes Energy Transfer Partners, Energy Transfer Equity and Sunoco Logistics, construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline relies heavily on debt," Red Owl said. In its report titled “Who’s Banking on the Dakota Access Pipeline?,” Food and Water Watch has done a lot of work putting together the pieces of the financing puzzle for Dakota Access. Among the many financial institutions providing financing for the Dakota Access Pipeline is Den Norske Bank – DNB (The Bank of Norway). On November 7, 2016, DNB announced that it was reconsidering its investment in the Dakota Access Pipeline. The bank stated: "DNB looks with worry at how the situation around the pipeline in North Dakota has developed. The bank will therefore take initiative and use its position to bring about a more constructive process to find a solution to the conflict … If these initiatives do not give appeasing answers and results, DNB will consider its further involvement in the financing of the project. In response to DNB’s statement, the Red Owl Legal Collective, an organization formed with support from the National Lawyers Guild to assist in coordinating legal support for the growing resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline, transmitted a letter to DNB documenting human rights abuses and urging DNB to divest from the Dakota Access Pipeline.
In this letter, DNB is urged to withdraw its funding of the Dakota Access Pipeline because of its violations of international laws and Treaties.
"We collectively request that DNB immediately withdraw its lending commitments with respect to the Dakota Access Pipeline, as its construction and use violates fundamental human rights, violates treaty-based, customary, 'good faith' international law, policy, and rights of indigenous peoples’ as expressed by the United Nations, is in violation of the 1851 and 1868 Fort Laramie Treaties between the government of the United States and the Great Sioux Nation (the Oceti Sakowin), and and potentially conflicts with numerous other international human rights standards, norms, and principles found in the Vienna Convention, Geneva Conventions, international criminal law, humanitarian law, and the International Climate Agreement (Paris), to which the United States and Norway are signatories." The attorneys point out that this is unceded traditional territory of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and tribes of the Oceti Sakowin. "The Pipeline cuts across the unceded traditional territories used and occupied by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the tribes of the Oceti Sakowin. This area includes numerous sacred sites, burial grounds, and serves as the land base upon which the tribes depend for subsistence, food, water, medicine, culture, religion, and life." Dakota Access Pipeline construction has resulted in militarized police at Standing Rock. The attorneys said there are currently over 400 active criminal cases filed against peaceful protesters, known as water protectors, who sought to exercise their voices in opposition to the Pipeline through prayer, acting in good faith under international law. Currently, there are damages, personal injuries, physical, psychological, and emotional harm being sustained, and perpetrated against the Standing Rock Sioux tribal members, human rights defenders, medics, media, and other communities impacted by the installation of this DNB-funded project. "Moreover, the actions of the Dakota Access Pipeline are contrary to DNB’s own stated human rights values," Red Owl said in the letter.
The militarized police have used chemical agents, rubber bullets and Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRAD). There are numerous reports of the reckless deployment of firearms and reports of multiple officers discharging weapons into a crowd and at horses, resulting in multiple injuries of people and horses.
Red Owl said there was "at least one report of an officer aiming a tear gas canister at an individual’s head, striking him in the neck." Further, there was the use of non-lethal or less than lethal firearms at close range.
Militarized police were unprovoked when police fired both bean bag guns and rubber bullets. Multiple flash bang grenades were thrown into a crowd of elderly and vulnerable people. There were numerous reports of police pushing, shoving, clubbing, and knocking people down. Further, the unsafe use of ATVs, resulted in several people being hit by ATVs. .
Militarized police attack peaceful water protectors Oct. 27, 2016. Photo copyright Rob Wilson.
These egregious human rights violations included the unsafe and excessive deployment of pepper spray against pipe-carrying elders assembled in prayer. The targeted use of excessive force against prominent figures included police grabbing and re-injuring the recently broken wrist (by the police on October 22) of a member of the International Indigenous Youth Council.
This unprovoked violence by police included unnecessary rough apprehension of numerous prayerful and peaceful people, including several prostrate praying women. The improper use of zip ties resulted in the loss of feeling and motion, numbness, and hands turning blue that, in some cases, continued to persist after they were removed. There were multiple reports of peaceful, surrendering individuals being tackled to the ground by groups of law enforcement officers; and numerous reports of the targeting of horseback riders, including the pursuit of a female horseback rider by police on ATVs shooting guns while following a heard of buffalo.
Red Owl has documented these militarized police attacks, including the disruption of prayer and spiritual ceremonies by tribal members, and the taking of sacred items, including pipes and staffs, from Native water protectors.
Elderly arrested during ceremonies. Oct. 27, 2016
The Morton County Sheriff's Department and jail have abused water protectors with unnecessary, inhumane, and unconstitutional treatment after arrest. This includes the use of dehumanizing tactics including marking arrestees’ arms with numbers, cavity and strip searches, cutting piercings off with bolt cutters, and failing to provide food and water to inmates for long periods of time. Water protectors were imprisoned in dog kennels in makeshift conditions.
Attorney Jeffrey Haas was present when Dakota Access security contractors unleashed attack dogs on women and children, resulting in bloody wounds. Another Red Owl human rights observer of the September 3rd dog attacks writes that “several people were bitten by dogs including a pregnant woman. The people were also sprayed with mace.”
As a result of these unacceptable police practices, dozens of water protectors sustained serious injuries, including numerous injuries requiring medical treatment by the volunteer camp. There are 30 victims on file with Red Owl Legal Collective.
Dakota Access Pipeline sicced attack dogs on women and children on Sept. 3, 2016
Besides the egregious human rights abuses by police, the owners of the pipeline company have a long history of environmental damage. "Energy Transfer Partners, the Texas company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, and its affiliated entities, have a long history of violations of environmental laws including pending lawsuits by the states of New Jersey, Vermont, Pennsylvania, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the City of Breau Bridge in Louisiana over MTBE contamination of groundwater, as well as citations for releases of hazardous materials from its pipelines and facilities in Ohio, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Missouri, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Hawaii." Red Owl said is clear that DNB is a major funder of the pipeline. "Background on DNB and the Dakota Access Pipeline DNB is part of the lending syndicate that has provided a US$2.5 billion credit facility for construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. DNB portion of that commitment is US$120 million. Additionally, DNB Bank provides revolving credit lines in the approximate amount of US$340 million to Energy Transfer Partners and its related companies, Energy Transfer Equity and Sunoco Logistics."
"DNB must immediately consider the consequences and ramifications of continuing to support the ‘wrong team’, in what is now known and will be remembered as one of the most profound violations of Native American sovereignty to occur in the United States. The history being created in the unceded traditional territories of the Great Sioux Nation in America’s Upper Great Plains continues to be written at this moment. DNB has a choice to stand on the right side of history, with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and the tribes of the Oceti Sakowin and the world in saying “No to the Dakota Access Pipeline,” and to adhere to international and national laws in accordance with human rights. Absent divestment and cancellation of financing commitments, DNB risks being documented and remembered as a supporter of human rights violations against the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, indigenous peoples, human rights defenders, and their supporters."
Police spray chemical agents on water protectors in the river as they try and reach desecrate burial places on Nov. 2, 2016
For extensive documentation on the violations of the U.N. Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, other international laws, and Treaties, please see the full letter from Red Owl.