In the News July 11
Criminal Contempt Charges Against Land Defenders in BC
Drop the Charges! Wet’suwet’en and Their Supporters Are Not Criminals!
Gidimt’en Checkpoint issued a press release on July 7 following the laying of criminal contempt charges against four land defenders in a court in Smithers. The charges arise from the violent RCMP raids and arrests on Wet’suwet’en territory in November of 2021.
The press release reads:
“Gidimt’en Checkpoint response to NDP Attorney General issuing criminal charges to four additional land defenders
“Unceded Wet’suwet’en Yintah (Smithers – BC) – Today, under the leadership of NDP Attorney General David Eby, the crown prosecutor criminally charged four land defenders, including Gidimt’en spokesperson Sleydo’ Molly Wickham, for breach of an injunction granted to Coastal Gas Link (CGL). The injunction restrains land defenders from accessing their unceded territory.
“The Crown declined to charge six others with criminal counts. In court, the Crown acknowledged the RCMP had not properly read the injunction to those present on site, but claimed leaders of the land defence ‘should have’ been sufficiently aware of the injunction to charge those four. CGL has until July 28, 2022 to announce if they will proceed with their civil claim. The count is now 19 people facing criminal contempt including Wet’suwet’en members and hereditary chiefs.
“Sleydo’, Molly Wickham Gidimt’en Checkpoint Spokesperson issued the following statement on social media platforms this afternoon:
“‘State and industry are using these courts and colonial laws as tools of genocide to diminish our rights. Canada has a long dark history of targeting Indigenous land defenders through the courts and for a provincial government that claims to support reconciliation, today’s decision smacks of hypocrisy.
“‘This won’t deter us from doing what is right, upholding our own laws that have been in place for thousands of years, protecting our land and standing up for future generations.”
“The Coastal GasLink project violates Wet’suwet’en rights and title, and lacks consent of Wet’suwet’en Hereditary chiefs, who have been resisting the project for a decade.”
In the raids in November 2021 on two camps established on Wet’suwet’en territory to block access by CGL, Gidimt’en Checkpoint and Coyote Camp, 27 people were arrested. They were charged with civil contempt for violating an injunction issued to CGL by BC Supreme Court Justice Marguerite Church in 2019. In April CGL lawyers requested that the 27 people also be charged with criminal contempt, a more serious charge, and Justice Church invited the BC Prosecution Service to do so, saying that “It is clear from the evidence before me that there is an important public interest in fostering a respect for the rule of law. The conduct alleged is defiant of the rule of law, and such conduct depreciates the authority of the court.”
On June 1 the Crown Prosecution Service laid criminal contempt charges against the 15 people who had been arrested at Gidimt’en Checkpoint and said that the decision on whether to charge those arrested at Coyote Camp would be announced on July 7. This is the third time that Justice Church has invited the prosecution service, on behalf of the Attorney General of BC, to lay criminal charges against Wet’suwet’en land defenders. On both previous occasions, in 2019 and 2020, prosecutors declined.
The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) stands with the land defenders and vigorously denounces the BC NDP government, the federal government and the courts and police for their ongoing attacks on the Wet’suwet’en and their supporters on their territory. Both governments claim to support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples but their actions continue to uphold a colonial justice system which tramples Indigenous rights and gives free rein and state support to industry to trespass and cause harm on Wet’suwet’en territory without consent. This must not pass!
All Out to Support the Wet’suwet’en Land Defenders!
TML Daily, posted July 11, 2022.