November 5, 1999
Banners used at Bern by Incomindios Switzerland
Photos submitted by Simone Greminger. Used with permission.
DanHel: Daniel Zapata and Incomindios coordinator Helena Nyberg
Unterschriften: "Do you give your signature too?"
amFeuer: After the prayers the vigil becomes to an end.
Bruno: Bruno Minder has been active
to sensibilise Swiss government and
people to the Hopi Message for many
years. Thank's for the fire, Bruno!
Vigil for the Dineh in the streets of Bern
Bern, 05 November 1999
by Simone Greminger
On Friday November 5th Incomindios Switzerland conducted a Vigil for the Dineh from Big Mountain.
We had support from the foreign countries by Daniel Zapata and Luiselle Graglia, which came all the way up from Turin to join the vigil and to create contacts.
Around 1pm we arranged our information desk, and set up large transparencies.
"NO FORCED RELOCATION ON THE NAVAJO" and "ARE ENERGY INTERESTS OF BIGGER IMPORTANTCE AS HUMAN RIGHTS AND NATURE?" were our slogans, with which we wanted to bring the passersby to the meditation. On the transparencies hung pictures of Dineh Elders as well as maps, under it one, which shows the Hopi Tribal Council's Mineral Development Plan
(à see: www.solcommunications.com/bigmtnart/hopiminemap.gif ). During the vigil it became clear, that this documentation material was a big help to many people to be able to better imagine the situation.
The passersbys reactions were different. Many of them showed consternation and disbelief, above all if the relocation to the radioactive contaminated New Lands was mentioned.
With the words in broken German "for the support for the Indians" a woman handed me with 20 Swiss Franks. Their eyes spoke volumes... After a comprehensive conversation a young man decided, to donate a part of his 13th month wages.
Beside our information work we collected signatures to a petition, which we have passed already during the UNO-session for the draft declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. We intended to hand out the petitions during a visit of the US Embassy in Bern to Mr. Dennis J. Ortblad, counselor for political and economical affairs. To this visit Ill come in the course of this report.
Further we lay down the text of a fax, in that we ask the consul, to advocate at his government for the stop of the forced relocation. The text of the fax accompanies.
Our second petition asks Mrs. Hawk to authorize the medical provision for Leonard Peltier.
After the night came up we hindered a ceremony, whereupon immediately several passersby gathered around our circle. Candles, fire shell, drum beats and songs woke the interest of the people more than everything else. Now, this advantage can be brought in at the next vigil. Additionally we won a few people, who will advocate now also actively and longer-term in these actions.
Our next vigil will take place at December 10th, at the international day of human rights. We will join the peaceful demonstration of Amnesty International through the streets of Bern.
Our date in the US Embassy was set on November 10th 1999. Our Delegation was composed of Daniel Zapata, Helena Nyberg (coordinator of Incomindios Switzerland) and me. An hour at the consul for politics and economy was guaranteed to us, which would have given us the possibility to introduce the situation at Big Mountain through the video Vanishing Prayer and to hand the collected petitions to the counselor during a following conversation. A day before our encounter was let us know, that we would have only a half hour time and that there was unfortunately no possibility to show the video. The US Embassy in Bern is found to the time in a hectic time, since just now an ambassadors exchange is in the underway. After an agreement under us we concluded to hinder our visit in a less hectic time. We captured to the video demonstration since we all think, that a pure description of the situation of the affected families can not replace the pictures and impressions which transmits the video. Additionally it is us of big importance, not to expose the conversations to the constant nervous look on the clock on both sides of the table.
So we remain with the intent to produce our request to a later point in time. Additionally the momentary number of signatures is stating sooner meagerly and little. We will continue to inform the Embassy about our activities.
For us" young supporters "were these days incredibly instructive. Daniel's accounts of past actions, details of the resistor's reality in Arizona, the complexity of the whole conflict etc. were a big help to make a liaison between theory and experienced praxis.
We will drive next week to Italy, to tie further combinations with "activists", so that the supporters net can be expanded further.
That is all to the current situation. I will report on further activities.
All the best in all activities.
Bern, November 1999
Mr. Dennis J. Ortblad
Consul for political and economic affairs
US-Embassy in Bern
Dear consul Ortblad
With consternation Im pursuing the maltreatment and harassment, which 250 Dineh/Navajo families are exposed in the Big Mountain area in Arizona.
I declare that the forced relocation of Dineh families from the land they always have lived on is a violation against international human rights agreements. For the Dineh the relocation means not only a residence exchange, but deprives them their life basis, on a traditional, religious and health level. A study shows that 25% of the Dineh expelled in the cities have died within 6 years. The families which have looked for a new home in the New Lands, are confronted with health damages, which are to be led back to the high share of radioactivity in the Rio Puerco. Thus I ask you to work for the stop of the relocation program.
- I ask you to undertake everything what is in your power that there will not be any relocation of Dineh/Navajo people on or after February 1st 2000. To move peoples out of their ancestral surroundings and social structures and to force them to a inferior life-quality in cities or areas of high radioactivity is not acceptable
- I ask you to recognize the Dineh and Hopi traditions as treasures. Through existing and planned measures they are earnestly threatened and will be destroyed.
- I ask you to call on your government to repeal the Public Law 93-531 and 104-30. I have my doubts about these laws are exclusively to solution a land dispute between Hopi and Dineh. The geological facts of coal and uranium resources in the affected area are bringing up the question of big economical interests.
- Im conscious of the economys importance but it should not be bigger than the importance of the protection of the human rights.
- Further I ask you to call your government to undertake everything to prevent the destruction of the environment in the Black Mesa area by the coal mining of Peabody Coal Company. The ecological circle once damaged and destroyed cant be rebuilt again that easy. With Swiss environmental protection standard as model, I am deeply concerned from such a expanded pollution of water, air and land and its consequences on the ecological balance of the whole area.
Please keep in mind that the world witnesses the actions of the responsible agencies of the US government and the Hopi Tribal Council. The USA is acting with big engagement against the driving out of minorities in other countries, for example Kosovo. It will loose its good reputation as a leader of human rights in the world if this ethnic cleansing policy being carried out by your administration is continuing and if a forced relocation within its own boarder is being tolerated.