Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Indigenous people and allies deliver strong message to Citibank shareholders meeting: No Dakota Access Pipeline, Divest, Defund and Decolonize investments
New York City - Hundreds turned out in the rain for a prayerful rally on April 25, 2017; at the historic Cooper Union to protest Citibank’s annual shareholder meeting. The Indigenous-led, and ally supported event sent a strong message to Citibank and its shareholders: honor Indigenous rights, stop extractive energy investment now, and invest in a Just Transition, and renewable energy towards a climate-stable future.
Just two miles away, the United Nations 16th Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is taking place April 24-May 5. Heads of state from across the world are gathered to advance the struggle for Indigenous peoples’ rights and survival. In contrast, while the UN Forum will be focusing on Indigenous rights, at their annual meeting, the Citi CEO and Board of Directors reported to their shareholders of the profits they have made from violating these rights of Indigenous nations. Citibank sponsors and funds abuses of Indigenous rights and the environment by funding the pipelines and oil and gas extraction in and across Indigenous lands. The Dakota Access Pipeline construction desecrated sacred burial sites and incited police violence against unarmed water protectors. Citibank also funds and supports tar sands and shale oil extraction on Indigenous lands. A delegation of Indigenous women addressed the CEO and Board of Directors during the question and answer session of the meeting.
Citibank maintains involvement in the controversial pipeline with a $521,808,456 investment. Citibank was the main convener of the 17 banks that supplied the loan for the Dakota Access Pipeline. Citi is banking on pipeline infrastructure and keeping a stronghold on oil as a commodity by providing revolving credit to TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL Pipeline. Citibank finances the companies behind all of the proposed tar sands pipelines, including Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain and Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement pipeline, all of which face significant Indigenous and grassroots opposition.
“Not only should Citibank divest from funding human rights abuses to Indigenous Peoples, but they should have a portfolio that includes investment in communities working toward a Just Transition using transformative models like eco-villages to develop true sustainability and support Indigenous sovereignty,” said Kandi Mossett, of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nations, with the Indigenous Environmental Network.
"It's critical to show our presence at Citibank's meeting so they, and the rest of the world know, that WE are aware that their financial decision making directly destroys the earth, directly negatively impacts the water many indigenous folks strictly rely on, and we are going to fight for this earth and the next 7 generations," said Shawnee Rice with the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.
Dwayne Perry, Chief of the Ramapough Lenape Nation said, "We are the Ramapough Lunaape Nation, descendants of the original people of Manhattan and the elders of this land. We consider the injustices at Standing Rock and those who profit from them as injustices to all people, just as we see the building of dangerous and unnecessary oil pipelines as a threat to all waters and lands.”
“Banks and other financial institutions have a long, long history of financing these horribly destructive extractive industries. These industries violate Mother Earth and her sanctity, indigenous treaties and sovereignty, and result in vicious and repeated violence against indigenous people and all other people who get in their way.” Said Rick Chavolla, of the Kumeyaay Nation and Board Chair of the American Indian Community House. “We have come together as Indigenous people, with our brother and sister allies to say: Enough is enough, this stops now.” The rally delivered its message in no uncertain terms: It is time for Citibank to stop funding Indigenous and human rights abuses and environmental destruction, it must divest today.
Indigenous and grassroots pressure centering around the Water Protector movement at Standing rock continues to grow. Cities like Seattle, WA and Davis, CA divested from Wells Fargo after the project continued without the consent of the Standing Rock Sioux. European heavy hitter, ING, and other foreign banks have sold their stakes in the Dakota Access Pipeline.
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