FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday, April 29, 2013

Contact: Elouise Brown, Dooda (NO) Desert Rock, 505-592-1453

Forgotten People and Dooda Desert Rock report human rights abuses to the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights

NAVAJO NATION, AZ: On 4/27/2013, Forgotten People, Inc. and Dooda (No!) Desert Rock, two grassroots members of Navajo Nation civil society submitted reports citing human rights abuses and a lack of remedies by peoples subjected to abuse by corporate and state (Navajo Nation) activities to the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights for their official visit to the United States.

Forgotten People, Inc. is a Navajo Nation nonprofit corporation and nongovernmental organization with a service membership of Navajos who are "survivors" of the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute. They are Navajos who live in areas confirmed to ownership by the Hopi Tribe; Navajos who were relocated from Hopi lands; Navajos who suffer in a land area set aside for relocation (in Northern Arizona—the "New Lands"); and Navajos affected by an imposed federal government prohibition of all development in disputed land areas, including improvements to existing homes and other structures — called the "Bennett Freeze." It lasted from 1966 through May 8, 2009 and intensified the poverty of Navajos and Hopis living in the area.

The "Forgotten People" class is most victimized by its own government and while the class has many grievances, the most serious issue is that of relocation by Peabody Coal Company in violation of the international human rights standard, stated in Article 10 of the Declaration, "free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples concerned," with "agreement on just and fair compensation" and an "option for return."

Instead, when an Environmental Assessment was done by the Office of Surface Mining, Peabody Coal Company falsely represented that people in the area affirmatively desired to relocate and their consents were obtained. In fact, there has been no meaningful information provided to the residents of the area, in the Navajo language, and no evidence of "agreement," including agreements on "just and fair compensation" for everyone involved.

In an effort to force people out of the mining area, Peabody imposed an unauthorized, prohibition or freeze on construction or maintenance of homes in the mining area. Threats and harassments of residents by Peabody employees, noxious mining activities that endanger health and safety (including wind-borne contaminants), ground water pollution, and recent news of Peabody’s plan to build a permanent repository to house 1.3 million artifacts; cultural property taken from Black Mesa without regard for proper remedies like repatriation.

Dooda ("No!") Desert Rock takes its name from a campaign to block the construction of a minemouth, coal-fired power plant on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico, near the Four Corners of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah. That is an area popularly known as the "National Sacrifice Area" of the United States for the siting of exploitative extractive industry and dangerous/polluting projects — such as uranium mines and coal-fired power plants. The word "dooda" means "no" in Navajo but it can also refer to dangerous situations and beings.

The two primary issues that Dooda Desert Rock brings to the attention of the Working Group
are harmful extractive industry projects in northwest New Mexico, on and near the Navajo Indian Reservation and harmful extractive industry and coal mining and mine-mouth coal-fired power plants that has led to undue corporate influence.

The Navajo Nation is going through a period of crisis. It was, for many years, a popular "national sacrifice area" for extractive industry and political corruption is dictating the Navajo Nation’s energy policy. It is responsible for the waste of Navajo Nation monies and assets; bungled energy projects; granting a new lease to a power plant in the western portion of the Navajo Nation, and the purchase of a coal mine that feeds plants in northwest New Mexico.

The Forgotten People and Dooda (No!) Desert Rock ask the United Nations to remind the Navajo Nation and private corporations doing business on the Navajo Nation that there are international human rights standards that apply.

Please contact James W. Zion, Esq., attorney for Forgotten People, Inc. and Dooda (No!) Desert Rock at (505) 839-9549 or via email: JZion@aol.com ####

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