Africa & Aboriginal Tuesday: Indigenous People's Opposition to Celebration and Glorification of Colonial Pirate Christoper Columbus
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 for the 513th year of the invasion of our sacred lands by the colonial pirate Christopher Columbus. Columbus was the beginning of the American holocaust against Indian peoples that claimed at least 60 million people from 1492 to the present. These deaths were characterized by military and biological warfare, murder, torture, raping, pillaging, robbery, slavery, kidnapping, and forced removals of Indian people from their homelands.
To our Italian American friends, and others 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, and other organizations, and governments who continue to insist on celebrating and glorifying the murderous Columbus with parades, festivals, and celebrations.
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.
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, 300,000 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.
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.
Again 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.
Again 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 go 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 na´ve 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."
The reality is that during the administration of Bush I, John Negroponte was the administration, and the CIA's point-man who organized and worked with the death squads of Guatemala. This unholy alliance increased tenfold the murders of Mayan Indian people during the Bush I term in office. (See "Guatemala Memory of Silence") We are not surprised that Negroponte went on to become the ambassador to the United Nations, and then ambassador to Iraq where he practiced his dirty art, and is currently the Director of Homeland Security. Much of the American press has remained strangely silent in reporting the role of the United States, which is blatantly quilty of war crimes and other high crimes against humanity.
We call on George Bush II who continues to accuse other governments around the world of sponsoring terrorism, and human rights violations, to direct 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.
* Editor's note. This statement was released by The American Indian Movement Grand Governing Council
Tuesday, October 11, 2005