After months of bitter protests, Native Americans and environmentalists have now had to leave the camp against the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.
Protesters set fire to some of their tents and cabins as they left the camp Photo: reuters
After nearly a year, the protest camp against the construction of a controversial oil pipeline in the northern United States has been cleared. Most demonstrators voluntarily left the protest camp against the Dakota Access pipeline in the state of North Dakota on Wednesday. About ten activists who resisted an ultimatum to vacate the camp were arrested, according to authorities.
After months of bitter protests by Native Americans and environmentalists, the administration of former President Barack Obama had temporarily halted the pipeline project in December. However, shortly after taking office in January, his successor Donald Trump issued a decree ordering construction to continue. Work on the last section of the pipeline was then immediately resumed.
On Wednesday, the demonstrators left the protest camp on the planned pipeline route, chanting and drumming. In the process, they also set fire to some of their tents and huts. According to authorities, there were about 20 fires and at least two explosions. A seven-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl were taken to hospital with burns, according to the report.
Native Americans from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe had demonstrated for months with the support of other tribes and environmental activists against the pipeline, which is to run from North Dakota through several states to Illinois. Violent confrontations with the police also occurred, in which numerous people were injured. The indigenous people now want to fight the pipeline project in court.
The nearly 1,900-kilometer pipeline is to connect oil fields in North Dakota on the Canadian border with a pipeline hub in Illinois. The indigenous people bitterly oppose the project because the pipeline is to run through sacred sites on their ancestral land. They also worry about their drinking water. They fear that the waters could be contaminated by pipeline leaks.
The protest camp was set up in April near a Standing Rock reservation. Authorities have now justified the eviction of the camp with the impending seasonal flooding in the area. To prevent pollution, more than 200 truckloads of garbage, demolished shacks and other debris have already been removed since Monday.