From Standing Rock to Morocco: Indigenous Protesters Act in Solidarity Against Corporate Polluters

With a banner depicting their fight against the silver mining corporation Managem as a sister struggle to the fight against the Dakota Access pipeline in Standing Rock, Indigenous Amazigh people from the Moroccan town of Imider continued their protest against the mining corporation on November 20, 2016. (Photo: Nadir Bouhmouch)

“In our language, we say ‘water is life’ or ‘water is soul,'” said Indigenous activist Moha Tawja. These words could be coming from the mouth of a #NoDAPL Water Protector at Standing Rock, but they’re not — Tawja is Amazigh from Imider, Morocco, a town 300 kilometers south of Marrakech.

The parallels between the Standing Rock Sioux and the Amazigh of Imider extend far beyond their respect for water. Thousands of miles apart, both communities struggle against extractive industries and a lack of respect for tribal sovereignty.

Imider is the home of Managem, the largest silver mine in Africa. Silver mining is a water-intensive industry.

“In 1986, Managem started taking water through an illegal well and arrested those who resisted,” Tawja said. “They still exploit these wells.”

Resistance against resource exploitation is also a central focus of the Water Protectors at Standing Rock. At present, the Standing Rock Sioux have been resisting the Dakota Access pipeline for eight months and experienced brutal repression from police on Sunday night. The 30-inch diameter pipeline is supposed to stretch 1,172 miles from North Dakota to Illinois and transport 470,000 barrels of crude oil a day. The emissions of this oil are equal to 101.4 million tons of carbon dioxide, or as much as 30 American coal power plants per year.
In a scene reminiscent of the policing that has occurred in Standing Rock, police in Morocco march in parallel to the Indigenous villagers from Imider to prevent them from…

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