Tiny House Warriors group leader Amanda Soper stands in front of her truck that she said was stolen and rammed into one of the group’s houses during an April 19 attack on the group’s encampment. Amnesty International is now calling on the provincial government and RCMP to take decisive action in their response to the incident. Facebook photo

Amnesty International weighs in on alleged attack at Tiny House Warriors camp

Human rights group pens open letter to provincial government and RCMP

  • May. 12, 2020 12:00 a.m.

Amnesty International has taken notice of the alleged attack on the Tiny House Warriors camp that recently took place near Blue River.

Tiny House Warriors leader Amanda Soper, who also goes by Kanahus Manuel, said in a statement issued by the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs that on April 19 four Caucasian attackers breached a barricade, making their way through the encampment and desecrating a memorial display for murdered and missing Indigenous women.

She also said there was an assault and a truck that was stolen from the encampment was rammed into one of the tiny homes while she was inside, nearly knocking it off its trailer.

Alex Neve, secretary-general for Amnesty International, wrote an open letter to Premier John Horgan and RCMP deputy commissioner, Jennifer Strachan, urging “effective and decisive action” in responding to the situation.

“The Tiny House Warriors camp is located in Blue River, in unceded Secwepemc territory in the interior of British Columbia,” the letter reads.

“Indigenous land and human rights defenders have maintained a full-time presence there since July 2018, to uphold collective sovereignty and jurisdiction in opposition to the ongoing expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline and construction of associated work camps.”

The letter went on to say Amnesty International believes both the B.C. government and RCMP have important responsibilities to ensure the police investigation toward the incident is done in a way that has the full confidence of the Tiny House Warriors and Secwepemc leadership.

Clearwater RCMP Detachment Commander Sgt. Grant Simpson said they are investigating the incident as a hate crime, and that RCMP will be looking for suspects.

Amnesty International also wants the government and RCMP to implement appropriate measures of protection — which were asked for by the protest group to guard against further attacks.

“We are also aware of tensions that exist between the Tiny House Warriors and the RCMP due to past arrests of residents of the camp and their supporters,” the letter continues.

“In this context, it will be important that the investigation proceeds in a manner that builds the trust and confidence of the Tiny House Warriors and Secwepemc leadership. We urge the government to discuss appropriate protection measures with the Tiny House Warriors community and with First Nations leadership.”

Amnesty International noted an ongoing history of harassment, intimidation, and online threats against the Tiny House Warriors, saying it reflects growing concerns about vilification and threats against demonstrators speaking out against the oil and gas industry, especially women and Indigenous peoples.

In the statement issued by the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, Manuel indicated the attack is an example of the violence Trans Mountain work camps bring to their territory. A spokesperson from Trans Mountain said the two individuals photographed as being allegedly involved in the attack do not work for the company.

Both the Premier’s office and RCMP deputy commissioner declined to comment on the letter.

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