SANTA FE, N.M.— The New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC), in observance of the United Nation’s Human Rights Day 2012, is continuing its efforts to persuade the State of New Mexico and federal regulators to protect the ground water that is the source of drinking water for present and future generations of residents of Crownpoint and Church Rock.
“We must remember that the human right to clean water could be violated right here in New Mexico,“ says Eric Jantz, NMELC Staff Attorney. “For over 17 years, Navajo communities have been fighting the state, corporations and the federal government in order to protect their drinking water from uranium mining. Because domestic regulators have thus far refused to acknowledge this potential human rights violation, our client, Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining has had to go to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to ask for justice.“
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted on December 10, 1948 and asserts that “fundamental human rights and freedoms to which all men and women, everywhere in the world, are entitled, without any distinction.“ The date is celebrated as Human Rights Day worldwide. On July 28, 2010 the UN’s General Assembly adopted a resolution recognizing that access to clean water is a human right.
In May 2011, the NMELC filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining (ENDAM) seeking to halt a uranium mining operation in the Navajo villages of Church Rock and Crownpoint, NM.
“Today we want to remind people that we are still here working to prevent contamination to good quality water,” says Jonathan Perry, ENDAUM Board President. “It is our right to protect the natural resources that we will leave to our children, regardless of jurisdiction or current use. Just as our relatives fought to live, today we continue to fight for our human rights and our right to access clean drinking water. As indigenous peoples, we believe this also means to work with intention for our future generations. As we are learning from the first uranium boom, the next generations will suffer the lasting health and environmental effects if we allow uranium mining to start up again.“
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New Mexico Environmental Law Center