Indigenous People's Opposition to Columbus Day Celebration
Glorification of Colonial Pirate Christopher
Indigenous People's Opposition to Columbus Day
BY: Ministry for Information, American Indian Movement Grand Governing Council
As we enter the new Millennium on October 9 or 12, 2000, the settler governments
and peoples of North, Central and South America, who occupy the lands of
various Indigenous nations of peoples, will again celebrate with holiday
parades and festivals the invasion of our sacred lands by the colonial pirate
Columbus was the beginning of the American holocaust, ethnic cleansing
characterized by murder, torture, raping, pillaging, robbery, slavery,
kidnapping, and forced removals of Indian people from their homelands.
To our Italian American friends, we say that to celebrate the legacy of this
murderer is an affront to all Indian peoples, and others who truly understand
this history. It would be the same as if German people would celebrate and
glorify Adolf Hitler and the rise of fascism, and the Nazi holocaust by holding
parades through the Jewish communities of America and throughout the world.
We unequivocally support the right of Indian peoples of all the Americas
along with friends and supporters to peacefully hold demonstrations and vigils,
and exercise firm and resolute civil disobedience against any groups, religious,
other organizations, and governments who continue to insist on celebrating
and glorifying the murderous Columbus with parades, festivals, and celebrations.
The legacy of Columbus continues against the original people of all of the
Americas, north, south and central. At this time, murderous acts against
the people of Guatemala are fresh in mind. 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 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 in the past fifteen (15) years alone.
In order to end the Columbus legacy we call on the Congress of the United
States to repudiate the Columbus legacy by eliminating the Columbus holiday
by following the lead of states such as Louisiana, and South Dakota who declare
October 12th each year honoring American Indians. American Indians gave you
your spiritual, cultural, social, economic, and political freedom and sanctuary.
We call on all governments and peoples of goodwill worldwide to give support
to the lawsuit filed in Spain by Rigoberta Menchu Tum the 1992 Nobel Peace
Prize Laureate, and the Alliance Against Impunity, calling for the arrest
and prosecution of Efrain Rios Mont. Mont was one of several leaders of the
brutal death squad governments of Guatemala who ordered the attack on the
Spanish Embassy in Guatemala City, which caused the incendiary burning to
death of more than thirty (30) Mayan Indian peaceful protestors, including
the father of Rigoberta Menchu, and Spanish embassy staff. Additionally,
Rios Mont was responsible for the murders of tens of thousands of civilians,
the vast majority of which were Mayan Indians.
We call on Amnesty International, the International Indian Treaty Council
(IITC), 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.
We are calling on the World Court, the Permanent United Nations War Crimes
Tribunal to investigate and bring to trial the political and military leaders
of the death squad governments of Guatemala and the United States CIA, military,
political, and business leaders, who are complicit in what is clearly ethnic
cleansing, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
We call on the Boston-based Physicians for Human Rights who were doing forensic
investigations of mass graves in Bosnia and Kosovo to come to Guatemala to
examine all the mass graves in Guatemala, which hold as many as 200,000 to
300,000 civilian victims.
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 to the suffering people, and those in mass graves throughout
the countryside of Guatemala.
In defense to charges of crimes against humanity and other war crimes, German
military officers, political leaders, industrialists, and the German people,
during their trial before the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal, defended themselves
by saying, "As subordinates, we were only following orders." The German people
plead innocent for reasons of 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 the lead
American Prosecutor at the Nuremberg 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."
William Jefferson Clinton and Madeline Albright, who were preaching morality
to the Serbs in Bosnia and Kosovo, Yugoslavia, East Timor and to the Chinese
about their human rights violations, must now direct their full attention
to what will prove to be United States government complicity in this continuing
American holocaust. Along with the death-squad governments of Guatemala,
they must be held to the standard set by Justice Robert Jackson.
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