Monday, June 1, 2009
Akwesasne Is On High Alert As The Bridges Are Closed And Canadians Borders Services Abandoned
Midnight, June 1, 2009: As the deadline for new compliance standards imposed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Border Patrol and the Canadian Border Services was reached, an all out military style blockade has been established on the U.S. and Canadian sides of the international bridges that use Akwesasne's Cornwall Island to connect them. June 1st was the date for the new Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) to come into effect. The standards called for stiffer identification requirements including U.S. or Canadian passports or new enhanced ID cards with scannable and trackable RFID chips embedded in them. The Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) also planned to used the deadline as the start of an upgraded arming and militarization of the customs and border facility located within the the territory of the Kanienkehaka, on Cornwall Island which is now eerily abandoned. These moves have been opposed by the Kanienkehaka with particular concern over weapons being brought into their community. Several demonstrations have occurred over the last several weeks specifically addressing the overwhelming opposition of the Kanienkehaka to the idea of a foreign armed force being based within their community.
No dialogue or communications of any kind has been offered up to explain the blockade. DHS, as recently as last week expressed in a conference call for all Native communities on the U.S.-Canadian border that a "relaxing of the requirements" would be in affect for an "undetermined transitional period". When asked specifically about the Massena crossing, they offered no insight to a closing or blockade.
The Kanienkehaka are presently asking everyone to use every means available to keep communications flowing and prepare to support this community as this apparent military action continues. Travel preparations from as many Native territories as possible on both sides of the "Imaginary Line" should be started as well as any actions that can be undertaken to show solidarity.
At the time of this posting there was still no press presence or any international observation. The hope is that efforts to bring as much attention to these actions as possible can reach the highest international levels. Contact with the people of Akwesasne is critically important at this point and the flow of information is one of the best weapons against any abuses that occur. All media contacts and organizations should be brought on line to monitor the situation.
Any developments will be posted as information is received.
View the photos and links on the side bar for updates on the situation.