APTN National News
Three Inuit water protectors are being held in a prison in St. John’s, NL for refusing to sign an undertaking to stay away from the construction site for the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.
The site, 30 km west of Goose Bay, Labrador, has seen an endless stream of protests over the environmental damage the multi-billion dollar project will cause downstream they say.
Marjorie Flowers, and Eldred Davis, along with Elder Jim Learning were whisked away after a court appearance Friday 1,500 km to the south.
The Nunatukavut Community Council (NCC) issued a release Monday calling for the three to be immediately released.
“To have these three people also taken from their community without notice to their family and friends is a travesty in itself,” said Todd Russell, president of the NCC. “Why is it that, when Indigenous peoples are involved in a protest, such extreme and unnecessary measures are taken by the justice system? Almost to a case this only happens when there is an indigenous protest.”
“How do you have this reaction against Indigenous people when they have a grievance against this project.”
The three have been involved in protests against the over budget Muskrat Falls project for months.
What led them to go before a judge was a protest that took place in the fall of 2016 when a group of land protestors occupied the offices of Nalcor, the Newfoundland and Labrador government agency that is managing the project.
In May, Inuk grandmother Beatrice Hunter spent eleven days in jail for also refusing to sign an agreement to stay away from the site.
She was released but signed an amended undertaking.
Learning and Davis were both taken into custody after refusing to sign an undertaking to stay one kilometre away from Muskrat Falls.
“We also demand that the Attorney General of Newfoundland and Labrador, who is responsible for the administration of justice in this province, do his job,” said Russell. “We expect the administration of justice in this province to respect the nation-to-nation Relationship.”
37 people face criminal charges, including mischief and disobeying a court order.
50 people are facing civil charges for breaching the court injunction obtained by Nalcor Energy.
Flowers, Davis and Learning will be back in court July 31.
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