Standing Rock camp must stay and the US Army must help

This petition made change with 2,535 supporters!

Your support is needed urgently. The US Army has issued an ultimatum to the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters: abandon the Oceti Sakowin encampment by December 5th or risk prosecution and violence. Disguised as a concern for public safety, the ultimatum is a violation of the inalienable human right to the freedom of peaceful assembly. Add your signature to our demand to the US Army Corps of Engineers: conform to international law by withdrawing this ultimatum and assist with the encampment's preparations for the winter.

Below is the letter that the Article 20 Network will send to Colonel Henderson and his superiors on Friday, December 2nd:

Dear Colonel Henderson,

In response to your letter to Chairman Archambault of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe made public on November 25, 2016, I am writing to urge you to revoke your decision to close the property north of the Cannonball River to the general public, specifically the Oceti Sakowin encampment, and instead provide for their protection.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their supporters are exercising their human right to freedom of peaceful assembly, provided by Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The contents of your letter do not conform to international law and include categorical violations of human rights.

Peaceful assembly is an inalienable human right; it is inseparable from human instinct, and vital to promoting healthy societies and democracies. Because the freedom of assembly is most often exercised by the otherwise voiceless, it advances new opinions and expressive methods in civil discourse.

It is, therefore, the government’s – and the U.S. Army’s – obligation to protect and promote peaceful assemblies, contrary to what your letter proposes. Specific concerns include:

  • Addressing public safety The Dakota Access pipeline protestors have gone to great lengths to provide for their own safety against the winter weather. The Army Corps of Engineers is one of the best-equipped federal agencies to meet the government’s obligation to keep them safe.
  • Land management The grazing of animals and haying do not have priority over expressive human rights.
  • Free speech zones Peaceful assembly is not synonymous with free speech; it is reliant on the presence of the individual, the “body as voice”. Thus, the location of an assembly is fundamental to its very message. By dictating where an assembly can meet, you undercut the fabric of the human right.
  • Threats of prosecution and “risk” By your own determination, illegal activity and violations warrant action. By upholding such laws and codes through force, you invite conflict where there is now only peace and prayer. Contrarily, your district would to better to extend an olive branch by assisting with construction and waste management.

Therefore, on behalf of the Article 20 Network and the undersigned, I urge you to (1) rescind your letter dated November 25, 2016 and (2) immediately provide material support to protect the Oceti Sakowin encampment against the dangerous winter weather, without limitation.

Taking these steps will demonstrate that your concerns for the safety and the sanctity of the peaceful assembly at Standing Rock are sincere.


Dan Aymar-Blair

Executive Director, The Article 20 Network

PS – The US Army Corps of Engineers can most easily provide for the health and safety of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe (and all people dependent on the Missouri River for their water, lives and livelihoods) by permanently denying the easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline.

CC: Lieutenant General Todd Semonite; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford; Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter; President Barack Obama

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