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SHELL Accused - Landmark Trial: Execution Nigerian Environmental-Rights Activist Ken Saro-Wiwa


World  (tags: Nigeria, Niger Delta, oil giant, Royal Dutch Shell, environmental destruction, human rights violations, landmark, trial, Ken Saro-Wiwa, 9 Ogoni activists, 1995, execution, MovementForSurvival of the OgoniPeople, US federal court, ShellGuilty campaign )

LucyKalei
- 3582 days ago - democracynow.org
Oil giant's alleged complicity in NigerDelta HumanRights abuses judged NY fed court from 5/27. 14yrs after acclaimed Nigerian writer/environmental activist Saro-Wiwa's widely-condemned hanging, court to hear Shell was complicit in his torture & execution



   

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LucyKaleido S (82)
Wednesday May 27, 2009, 3:25 am
May 26, 2009

Shell on Trial: Landmark Trial Set to Begin Over Shell’s Role in 1995 Execution of Nigerian Human Rights Activist Ken Saro-WiwA


A landmark trial against oil giant Royal Dutch Shell’s alleged involvement in human rights violations in the Niger Delta begins this Wednesday in a federal court in New York. Fourteen years after the widely condemned execution of the acclaimed Nigerian writer and environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, the court will hear allegations that Shell was complicit in his torture and execution.


PLEASE, Please! LISTEN & WATCH the show on site, this way you can hear the great Saro-Wiwa's voice and see the news clips & film excerpt that add substance to this EXCELLENT and EXCEPTIONAL Democracy Now! program !!

Guests:

Steve Kretzmann, executive director of Oil Change International. He was at Shell’s annual shareholder meeting in London earlier this month and has been following the case against Shell. He also worked closely with Ken Saro-Wiwa in the last two years before Saro-Wiwa’s death.

Han Shan, the coordinator of the ShellGuilty campaign, a coalition initiative of Friends of the Earth, Oil Change International, and PLATFORM/Remember Saro-Wiwa.


AMY GOODMAN: A landmark trial against oil giant Royal Dutch Shell’s alleged involvement in human rights violations in the Niger Delta begins Wednesday in a federal court here in Manhattan. Fourteen years after the widely condemned execution of the acclaimed Nigerian writer and environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa, the court will hear allegations that Shell was complicit in his torture and execution.

Ken Saro-Wiwa was the founding member and president of MOSOP, the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, a group committed to use nonviolence to stop the repression and exploitation of the Ogoni and their land by Shell and the Nigerian government.

KEN SARO-WIWA: The indigenous people have been cheated through laws such as are operated in Nigeria today. Through political marginalization, they have driven certain people to death. In recovering the money that has been stolen from us, I do not want any blood spilled, not of an Ogoni man, not of any strangers amongst us. We are going to demand our rights peacefully, nonviolently, and we shall win.

AMY GOODMAN: In 1996, a year after Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists were hanged, the Center for Constitutional Rights, EarthRights International and other human rights attorneys brought a series of cases against Royal Dutch Shell and Brian Anderson, the former head of Shell’s Nigeria operation. They accused Shell of working closely with and financing the Nigerian military government to brutally quell the peaceful resistance against Shell’s presence in the country. Shell strongly denies all charges.

The cases against Shell were brought under the US Alien Torts Claim Act and the Torture Victim Protection Act and will finally go to trial this week despite Shell’s attempts to get the cases thrown out of court over the past decade.

Ken Wiwa, Saro-Wiwa’s son, told reporters earlier this month that, quote, “In a sense we already have a victory, because one of the things my father said was that Shell would one day have its day in court.”

Well, when Democracy Now! correspondent Jeremy Scahill and I traveled to the Niger Delta in 1998, we went to Ogoniland. We visited Ken Saro-Wiwa’s parents. An Ogoni man stepped forward from the hundreds of villagers who gathered to greet us, and he began RECITING THE FINAL SPEECH of Ken Saro-Wiwa, MADE SHORTLY BEFORE HE WAS HANGED.

(MUCH BETTER HEARD THAN READ HERE:)
OGONI MAN: I have no doubt at all about the ultimate success of my cause, no matter the trials and tribulations which I and those who believe with me may encounter on our journey. Neither imprisonment nor death can stop our ultimate victory. I repeat that we all stand before history. I and my colleagues are not the only ones on trial. Shell is here on trial, and it is as well that…

JEREMY SCAHILL: When we visited the parents of Ken Saro-Wiwa a few days before coming to Ilajeland, this man stood up and RECITED SARO-WIWA’s CLOSING STATEMENT BEFORE THE MILITARY TRIBUNAL that would ultimately HANG HIM.

(MUCH BETTER HEARD THAN READ HERE:)
OGONI MAN: In my innocence of the false charge I face here, in my utter conviction, I call upon the Ogoni people, the peoples of the Niger Delta and the oppressed ethnic minorities of Nigeria to stand up now and fight fearlessly and peacefully for their rights. History is on their side. God is on their side.

AMY GOODMAN: The voice of an Ogoni man reciting the last words of Ken Saro-Wiwa.

I’m joined right now by two guests. Steve Kretzmann is the executive director of Oil Change International. He was at Shell’s annual shareholder meeting in London last week and has been following the case against Shell. He also worked closely with Ken Saro-Wiwa in the last two years before Ken’s death. Steve Kretzmann, joining us from Washington, DC.

We’re also joined here in New York by Han Shan, the director of the ShellGuilty campaign, a coalition initiative of Friends of the Earth, Oil Change International and PLATFORM/Remember Saro-Wiwa.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! I wanted to start with Ken Saro-Wiwa, because of the trial that’s beginning this week. Steve Kretzmann, you knew him well. Tell us about who he was.

STEVE KRETZMANN: Ken was an amazing man. He’s easily the most extraordinary individual I’ve ever met, deeply, philosophically and strategically committed to nonviolence. You know, he spanned worlds. He really—you know, the protest of the Niger Delta peoples against the way that the oil companies have polluted their landscape and conspired with the Nigerian government for decades has really gone on since at least 1970. That’s the earliest recorded references we have to protests by local communities. But it took until Ken came on the scene in 1990 with the formation of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People to internationalize the cause and for his articulate voice, for his charisma to be lent to the cause, which really educated all of us around the world about the tragedy that is ongoing today in the Niger Delta.

AMY GOODMAN: I had a chance to interview Ken Saro-Wiwa for Pacifica station WBAI in New York. I was co-hosting the morning show with Bernard White, and a Nigerian activist brought him into the studio that morning unannounced. It was Ken’s final visit to the United States. It was just before he returned to Nigeria and was arrested, then tried and executed. This was Ken Saro-Wiwa on radio.

(MUCH BETTER HEARD ON SITE- LISTEN TO SARO-WIWA'S VOICE!!- THAN READ HERE:)

KEN SARO-WIWA: Shell does not want to negotiate with the Ogoni people. Each time they’ve come under pressure from local people, their want has always been to run to the Nigerian government and to say to the Nigerian government, “Oil is 90 percent of your foreign exchange earning. If anything happens to oil, your economy will be destroyed. Therefore, you must go and deal with these people, these troublemakers.” And most times, the government will oblige them and visits local communities of poor, dispossessed people with a lot of violence.

And when these communities then protested and said, “Look. Look at the amount of violence that is being used against us, even though we are only protesting peacefully,” then the oil companies will come and say, “Well, there is no way we can determine how much violence a government decides to use against its own people.” So, basically, the local communities have no leverage with the oil companies at all.

AMY GOODMAN: Who is the government now of Nigeria?

KEN SARO-WIWA: There is a military government in power at this time. And indeed, military people have been in power in the country for a long time.

AMY GOODMAN: Because they suspended the results of the elections?

KEN SARO-WIWA: Yes, indeed. But for a long time now, Nigeria has been under military dictatorships. And the oil companies like military dictatorships, because basically they can cheat with these dictatorships. The dictatorships are brutal to people, and they can deny the rights of—human rights of individuals and of communities quite easily, without compunction.

AMY GOODMAN: Ken Saro-Wiwa, how does the oil companies—how do Shell and Chevron deal with you as the president of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People?

KEN SARO-WIWA: Well, recently, when the protests started, Shell, they had a meeting. And the operatives of Shell in Nigeria and of those at The Hague in the Netherlands, and in London, held a meeting, and they decided that they would have to keep an eye on me, watch wherever I go to, follow me constantly, to ensure that I do not embarrass Shell. So, as far as I’m concerned, I’m a marked man.

(my comment: My god, what a tragedy, what an enormous tragedy for him,for the 8 other Ogoni activists hanged with him; their families; the Ogoni people and the Niger Delta; the cause of democracy and environmental justice !)

AMY GOODMAN: That was Ken Saro-Wiwa back in 1995. In fact, Steve Kretzmann, you organized that trip?

STEVE KRETZMANN: I did. I was one of the co-organizers of that trip, yep.

AMY GOODMAN: And the month and year of that trip?

STEVE KRETZMANN: That was January or February of 1994.

AMY GOODMAN: And he returned in 1994 to Nigeria, and he was soon arrested

STEVE KRETZMANN: Yeah, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: And then he was ultimately tried. Explain that trial, Steve Kretzmann. And right now, with the three cases being brought against Shell, explain what was Shell’s role, if any, in that trial?

STEVE KRETZMANN: Well, the trial was widely condemned by independent observers—Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, even the British government—as being a sham and a “travesty of justice,” was the quote that Prime Minister John Major at the time said about the trial and the ultimate execution of Ken.

You know, Shell’s role is obviously the issue that begins this week in court. I think there are some truly amazing aspects and pieces of evidence that will come out. One of the most damning, I think, is the signed affidavits from the witnesses who were at the trial. There were witnesses at the trial who said that Ken was involved in a crime. This is the crime for which I believe he was framed. Those witnesses subsequently signed affidavits with a British lawyer saying that they were bribed by the Nigerian government and Shell to testify against Saro-Wiwa. So I think that’s one of the most damning pieces of evidence that will come out over the next several weeks in the New York courtroom.

Shell also, we will see that they were deeply involved in the planning of the trial and really, I think, the campaign to silence the Ogoni and Ken Saro-Wiwa. And, you know, it’s quite troubling, the cozy relationship that existed in between this oil company, which is the largest multinational that operates in Nigeria today and was at the time, and what was a military dictatorship at that time. I think it’s extremely troubling and should give us all pause about the role of multinational corporations in the world today.

AMY GOODMAN: We did invite Shell on the broadcast.
We are talking about the true cost of oil, and after Shell, we’ll turn to Chevron. Stay with us.

AMY GOODMAN: Our guest, Steve Kretzmann, executive director of Oil Change International, he’s just back from London, the Shell shareholder meeting. Han Shan, in studio with us, coordinator of ShellGuilty campaign.

I want to go to a short clip from a video that, Han Shan, you produced to publicize the upcoming trial. It’s called The Case Against Shell. Shell made a motion to pull the video off the Wiwa v. Shell website, wiwavshell.org. This clip features Ken Saro-Wiwa’s son Ken Wiwa and Marco Simons, the legal director of EarthRights International.


FILM CLIP, MUCH BETTER VIEWED ON SITE, THAN READ HERE:
MARCO SIMONS: Ultimately, Shell’s lawyers conspired with the prosecution of the Ogoni leadership and participated in bribing witnesses against the Ogoni Nine in securing their convictions. And, of course, they were ultimately executed.

KEN WIWA: The Nigerian military announced this week that my father and eight others have been sentenced to death. They have no right of appeal.

NARRATOR: On November 10th, 1995, after a trial universally condemned as a sham and a sentence met with shock and outrage around the world, Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni leaders were hanged by the Nigerian military government. Ken’s last words were, “Lord, take my soul, but the struggle continues.”

KEN WIWA: I urge all of you here to keep the pressure on Shell to accept the responsibility for what has happened in Ogoni and what is still happening.


AMY GOODMAN: That last voice, that of Ken Wiwa, Ken Saro-Wiwa’s son, and before that, Marco Simons, legal director at EarthRights International.

Han Shan, explain what happened with this video.

HAN SHAN: Well, I was working with EarthRights International for several months before resigning, basically, to work on this ShellGuilty campaign, and obviously we’re not coordinating with the litigation team. It was something that I was involved in before I joined the ShellGuilty campaign. And I helped produce that video.

But basically, we learned about this, because I’ve just been following along with court documents that are publicly available on the United States District Court website and saw that Shell had been complaining about some of the education and outreach activities that the litigation team is doing. And there was an order that was noted on the website, and I was able to look at a document where they had opposed one of the lawyers’ participation in the trial, because he had a link to the video on his firm’s website. And subsequently, the court ordered them to remove the website after multiple requests from Shell.

So, it is the video that Shell does not want the public to see, but, of course, you know, it’s the internet. It’s been on the website. It’s been out there. It’s on YouTube. So, they have removed it from the website, but it’s still out there. And obviously it’s something that’s—it contains dangerous truths that we hope people will watch and learn from.

AMY GOODMAN: This ShellGuilty campaign that you’re coordinating, explain what you’re doing.

HAN SHAN: Well, basically, as I said, I left working with EarthRights, because their involvement in the litigation, along with co-counsel, Center for Constitutional Rights, it constrains them from doing all kinds of things, understandably. There are certain things that they can’t say and can’t do, because their focus is on litigation and in the courtroom.

But we felt that it was important that we keep a spotlight on Shell, on this trial, and make sure that people know, you know, people like yourself who followed this fourteen years ago. There are an awful lot of people who don’t even realize that this is coming to court. There are profound implications. So, we organized ShellGuilty essentially to highlight Shell’s crimes and keep a spotlight on this trial and also push for an end to gas flaring. That is something that animated the resistance to Shell of MOSOP and Ken back in the day, and it’s still going on now.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain the gas flaring.

HAN SHAN: Well, gas flaring is a practice that Shell would never get away with in the US, they would never get away with in Europe, and they do it today in Nigeria twenty-four hours a day, and they’ve been doing it for decades. It’s the burning off of associated gas, gas that’s released through oil extraction activities. And they do it because it’s cheaper and easier than re-injecting the gas into the wells or actually capturing it and using it.

It could be used to actually give electricity and power to some of these impoverished villages that have enriched Shell and the Nigerian government so much. But instead, they burn it off in these toxic plumes of fire that release all kinds of toxins and enormous amounts of greenhouse gases that add to the climate crisis. And, you know, it’s something that aggravates local communities. It’s poisonous to local communities. And, you know, Shell has continued to choose to engage in this practice, because it’s more cost-efficient than doing the right thing and finding a solution with its $30 billion in annual profits and utilizing the gas or at least re-injecting it.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about how these are actually three cases, what’s going to be happening tomorrow, Wednesday, in federal court here in New York, that have been consolidated into one, Han Shan.

HAN SHAN: Well, basically, you know, the first lawsuit was filed, as you mentioned, back in 1996, almost exactly a year to the day after the Ogoni Nine were hanged. And that was brought by Owens Wiwa, Ken Saro-Wiwa’s brother, and Ken Wiwa, his son. But subsequently, there were other lawsuits, as well: one against Brian Anderson, the head of Shell Nigeria at the time, as well as some lawsuits related to a few other incidents that are part of this trial. So, a shooting incident in which Shell requested the Nigerian military and later compensated them, they basically arrived at a nonviolent protest and shot and killed a man named Uebari N-nah.

So, the judge in this case, Chief Judge Kimba Wood, who’s head—the chief judge here at the Southern District Second Circuit, has sort of just brought all these cases together to be heard in one trial, because they’re all absolutely interrelated and commingled. But the way that they’ve been consolidated, you’d have to ask a lawyer to explain all the complexity of it. But, you know, some charges could be dropped or thrown out or settled, and some could move forward. So it’s all a matter of, you know, what we’ll see over the next month or so.

AMY GOODMAN: Steve Kretzmann, you’ve just come back from Britain. You were in London for the Shell shareholder meeting. How prominent was this case? And then, explain, overall, what was happening at the Shell shareholder meeting?

STEVE KRETZMANN: Well, you know, perhaps not surprisingly, this case was not particularly prominent inside the shareholder meeting at all. The primary issue of concern inside the shareholder meeting was the remuneration package for the board of directors and the directors of the company, in particular, which actually the shareholders, interestingly, revolted against. And you had a majority of Shell’s shareholders voting against that package, which is a fairly unheard of thing to have happen. Shell’s directors said that they will take it under advisement and come back and perhaps modify the raises that they’re giving themselves, while, of course, they continue to gas flare in Nigeria. So, you know, the company is continuing on with business as usual and sort of keeping their head in the sand.

You know, I think one of the things that will come out in this trial is you’ll see that their strategy for many years, going back twenty years, has been to starve this issue of oxygen. That’s literally a phrase that comes out of some of the documents that we’ve discovered in the trial. And I think that they’re still trying to do this. They’re trying to not really give it any energy in hopes that it will simply go away. But those of us who knew Ken Saro-Wiwa, those of us who are deeply committed to peace and justice in Nigeria and corporate accountability, are quite determined to not let this issue go away at all.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to play a brief clip of a film that we highlighted last week. It’s Sandy Cioffi’s film called Sweet Crude. But this is the section of the documentary where she looks at the case of Ken Saro-Wiwa.


FILM EXCERPT - BETTER VIEWED ON SITE, THAN READ HERE:
KEN SARO-WIWA: We want freedom!

CROWD: We want freedom!

KEN SARO-WIWA: We want freedom!

CROWD: We want freedom!

KEN SARO-WIWA: Freedom! From today onwards, Shell is declared persona non grata in Ogoni

IBIBA DON PEDRO: The Ogoni struggle issued out of Ogonis like Ken Saro-Wiwa. They decided, you know, to come together to begin to agitate for an end to environmental degradation, for an end to the kind of injustice that exists in a situation where oil comes out of Ogoniland, but Ogoni people are some of the poorest people. Their lands are taken over for oil.

UNIDENTIFIED: The Ogoni Bill of Rights was basically asking for a fair share of the oil revenue. And this was led peacefully, without violence. It was led peacefully, calling for dialogue.

KEN SARO-WIWA: We are going to demand our rights peacefully, nonviolently, and we shall win.

PETER JENNINGS: This may come as a shock. Yesterday, when we decided to choose this man, we knew that his life was in danger. And quite frankly, we hoped that by focusing on his work, we would contribute urgently to people’s understanding of his crisis. We are too late. This morning in Nigeria, as we were preparing this profile, Ken Saro-Wiwa was hanged by the military government.

BERNARD SHAW: About twelve hours ago, the military regime in Nigeria executed nine men, including environmentalist and minority rights leader Ken Saro-Wiwa.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: This heinous act offends our values and darkens our hope for democracy in the region. We particularly deplore this action where it was taken despite the pleas of so many governments, including my own. My government is now urgently considering what further steps to take, including action by the Security Council. Thank you very much, Mr. President.

UNIDENTIFIED: Ken Saro-Wiwa never carried a gun. He was calling for international attention. He was calling for dialogue. What did they do to him? He was hanged. And every other person who was with him was executed.


AMY GOODMAN: An excerpt of Sweet Crude, produced by Sandy Cioffi, who was on Democracy Now! last week.

Steve Kretzmann, on the issue of Ken Saro-Wiwa today, fourteen years later, what do you expect to come from this trial?

STEVE KRETZMANN: Well, we certainly expect justice in terms of greater profile for the issue. But, you know, one thing I really hope comes out of this is the recognition that the struggle that Ken and the Ogoni took up twenty years ago and came to a head fourteen years ago is really the same struggle, the same issues that are going on in Nigeria today.

You had this—the great report last week with Sandy Cioffi, talking about the ongoing violence in the Niger Delta. The Nigerian parliament just approved on Friday a widening of the offensive against the Nigerian villagers who have taken up arms.

And, you know, the causes that they are addressing, what they’re trying to address here are the same things that Ken and the Ogoni and Niger Delta peoples have been trying to address for forty, fifty years: the ongoing flaring of gas, the abject party that the region suffers from despite the fact that billions of dollars of oil wealth have come out of there, the oil spills, etc., etc.

This really has to stop, and we certainly hope that the spotlight that the trial will shine on Nigeria and these issues will finally change this issue once and for all.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Han Shan, what you’re doing now coordinating the outside protests?

HAN SHAN: Well, we’re going to be doing a lot of commentary and providing, hopefully, some insight into what’s actually happening inside the courtroom. We’ll be blogging. We’ll be writing about it on ShellGuilty.com.

And tomorrow, tomorrow, Wednesday at noon in Foley Square, right across from the courthouse, we’re holding a rally at noon where we’ll mark this historic opening of the trial. I mean, for so many people, seeing Ken’s prophecy come true, that in fact Shell would have its day in court, is just critically important. And we want to make sure that we mark this historic day. So, folks in New York and near New York, we hope people will come out for this noontime rally at Foley Square and show respects and also show Shell that people care about this.

And as Steve said, this is happening in Nigeria today. There are still critical issues that Shell has yet to address. And, you know, we have an opportunity, hopefully, to turn up the heat on Shell a bit right now.

AMY GOODMAN: Again, I want to say we did invite Shell on today’s broadcast. We hope they will join us at a future point. They didn’t today.

Han Shan, coordinator of the ShellGuilty campaign, at shellguilty.com. Steve Kretzmann is executive director of Oil Change International.


We’re going to go to break, and when we come back, we will turn to another oil giant. They’re holding their shareholders’ meeting this week. We’re going to be talking about Chevron. Antonia Juhasz is joining us. She’s just released a report called “The True Cost of Chevron: An Alternative Annual Report.” And a spokesperson for Chevron will be joining us, the head of Latin American operations.

(I think I'll post that one, too!)
 

LucyKaleido S (82)
Wednesday May 27, 2009, 9:05 am
"Lord take my soul but the struggle continues"
[Ken Saro-Wiwa's final words before his execution, 10.11.95]

It was only several years after his execution that I found out about Ken Saro-Wiwa and his heroic, peaceful combat to save his people, the Ogonis, from the environmental devastation in the Niger Delta caused by the oil giants, esp. Chevron & Shell. The military regime that sentenced him and 8 other Ogoni environmental justice activists to death no longer exists. But the oil giants still work hand in glove with the govt, whoever it is, and Nigeria's military forces are used to repress and destroy any attempts by the Ogonis or any of the other peoples in the Niger Delta, whose land has been confiscated, exploited and/or devastated by oil extraction practices, to claim their rights, human and economic. These bands of insurgents are so marginalized, their situation so desperate, that they have begged George Clooney to defend their cause!- as I read some months ago. They'd seen that the star's involvement for Darfur had got it into the headlines and hoped he could do the same for them!

It is infuriating to read mainstream media reporting on the kidnappings or the oil pipeline sabotage in the Niger Delta, actions most often carried out by MEND**, who are systematically portrayed, in keeping with the Nigerian govt line, as lawless, violent guerillas & insurgents, WITHOUT ever, EVER, explaining why this group has resorted to violent or lawless means to desperately try to alert the world to the plight of their region & its population, and save their native land from Chevron & Shell control & destruction.

"Saro-Wiwa and eight of his colleagues were executed by the Nigerian government 11 years ago (this was said in 2006, on the occasion of the unveiling of the Ken Saro-Wiwa 'Living Memorial' in London) for protesting against the devastation of the Niger delta by western oil corporations, in particular Shell and Chevron. There was worldwide condemnation at the time - both of the executions (described as "judicial murder") and the appalling oil pollution that had led to Saro-Wiwa's campaign for non-violent change in the first place. However, the situation in the Niger Delta in 2006 is, if anything, worse today - not only is the area still one of the poorest in Nigeria, not only does the practice of gas flaring still continue, but the region has now become heavily militarised."

In 2009, the situation has worsened: on May 21st, just LAST THURSDAY (!!), Democracy Now! devoted an excellent report To the Nigerian military assault that had received alarmingly little attention in the media & which had begun EIGHT DAYS EARLIER!- Massive Casualties Feared in Nigerian Military Attack on Niger Delta Villages : The Nigerian military has been accused of killing hundreds, maybe thousands, of civilians in the oil-rich Niger Delta. The military offensive began eight days ago but has received little international attention. Amy Goodman takes us to Nigeria to speak with Denzil Amagbe Kentebe of the Ijaw National Congress, and is joined in the studio by Sandy Cioffi, director of the new documentary Sweet Crude about the Niger Delta. The village of Oporoza, where much of the film was shot, has just been burned down. (The program can be viewed via the link I've provided but there's a transcript to read, too, though watching it is much better, esp for the film extracts or video footage.)

WHERE IS THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY ? WHERE ARE THE ENVIRONMENTAL AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE ACTIVISTS? WHERE ARE THE PETITIONS FOR THE NIGER DELTA?


When I found out about Saro-Wiwa's execution, I became very interested in the situation in the Niger Delta. There is a site dedicated to him because activists concerned about & involved in the Niger Delta struggle for environmental justice have grouped around him as a symbol of the just fight.

For some background, you can have a look at these 2 past posts of mine on the subject:
1)The Prophecy of Saro-Wiwa That Nigerian Delta Would Erupt in Violence Against Western Oil Companies & The State Is Being Fulfilled:He saw it all coming in his 1990 article: "The coming war in the Niger delta." 11 yrs after his hanging, youth militias have taken over the delta's creeks and mangrove swamps, blowing up oil installations, abducting workers, and taking on the military in bloody shoot-outs...

2)Remembering Ken Saro-Wiwa- Slide Show & Commentary on Just-Unveiled Living Memorial / the Artist, Activists & Saro-Wiwa's Son Speak Out : Must-see & hear document of the people involved in project, the artist and Saro-Wiwa's son, discussing the writer and activist, what the memorial means to them & Saro-Wiwa's last words: "I accuse the oil companies of practising genocide against the Ogoni!"



**The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta ("MEND") is a militant indigenous people's movement dedicated to armed struggle against what they regard as the exploitation and oppression of the people of the Niger Delta and the degradation of the natural environment by foreign multinational corporations involved in the extraction of oil in the Niger Delta and the Federal Government of Nigeria. MEND has been linked to attacks on foreign-owned petroleum companies in Nigeria as part of the Conflict in the Niger Delta.

MEND's stated goals are to localize control of Nigeria's oil and to secure reparations from the federal government for pollution caused by the oil industry. In an interview with one of the group's leaders, who used the alias Major-General Godswill Tamuno, the BBC reported that MEND was fighting for "total control" of the Niger Delta's oil wealth, saying local people had not gained from the riches under the ground and the region's creeks and swamps." [1] The Economist has described the organization as one that "portrays itself as political organisation that wants a greater share of Nigeria’s oil revenues to go to the impoverished region that sits atop the oil. In fact, it is more of an umbrella organisation for several armed groups, which it sometimes pays in cash or guns to launch attacks." [2]

In a January 2006 email MEND warned the oil industry, "It must be clear that the Nigerian government cannot protect your workers or assets. Leave our land while you can or die in it.... Our aim is to totally destroy the capacity of the Nigerian government to export oil."[3] Additionally MEND has called upon President Olusegun Obasanjo to free two jailed ethnic Ijaw leaders — Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, who is jailed and charged with treason, and Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, a former governor of Bayelsa State charged with corruption. (from Wikipedia)
 

Pamylle G (458)
Thursday May 28, 2009, 8:00 am
Americans in general, make comments about:" those Africans gone mad" because the historic and economic backround is blatantly absent in the mainstream media. The role of colonialism & corporations in general, and the oil companies in specific, is ignored. I lay the atrocities of most of what is going on in Nigeria and other African nations at the feet of those who manipulate impoverished people into conflict and prop up compliant and corrupt dictators.

I listened to Amy Goodman's interview with Ken Saro-Wiwa, and was greatly saddened. What a loss to humanity, this heroic man's execution ! I hope against hope Shell is brought to justice.
 

Catherine Turley (192)
Thursday May 28, 2009, 2:08 pm
if only american consumers would boycott shell and chevron, and other unethical companies. we could change these peoples' circumstances in a heartbeat.
 

David Cromie (6)
Thursday May 28, 2009, 2:10 pm
Thanks Alba. Not before time that Shell should be held to account for its operations in the Niger Delta.

I agree wholeheartedly with Pamylle.
 

mary f (200)
Friday May 29, 2009, 1:55 am
i agree with pamylle and catherine as well
 

LucyKaleido S (82)
Friday May 29, 2009, 3:39 am
AlterNet---- TAKE ACTION --- The Video Shell Oil Desperately Doesn't Want You to See

By Han Shan, Huffington Post. Posted on AlterNet May 26, 2009.


"Business as usual: Shell is trying to suppress the truth."

For over 13 years, Shell has tried to stop a trial from taking place at which the company must answer to charges that it colluded with the Nigerian military to commit serious human rights abuses to quell peaceful resistance to its operations in Ogoni, including conspiring to bring about the execution of Ogoni leader Ken Saro-Wiwa and 8 colleagues.


For over thirteen years, multinational oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has done everything in its power to stop a trial from taking place at which the company must answer to charges that it colluded with the Nigerian military to commit serious human rights abuses to quell peaceful resistance to its operations in the Niger Delta region called Ogoni, including conspiring to bring about the conviction and execution of Ogoni leader Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight of his colleagues.

On Tuesday, there was a last-minute announcement that the trial is postponed with no new date given but it is expected to commence soon, and the plaintiffs -- Ogoni villagers and family members of people who were killed -- will finally have their day in court.

There has been a flurry of media attention as the lawyers prepare for battle in the courtroom. However, some of the most interesting events are happening behind-the-scenes in the lead up to the trial. They show that Shell continues to do everything in its power to keep the truth from coming out.

On May 12, Shell's lawyers filed a motion opposing the admission of prominent human rights attorney Paul Hoffman to serve as trial counsel for the plaintiffs. [download PDF of the document]

As standard procedure for a trial of this kind, Hoffman had filed a "pro hac vice" application with the court. The Latin pro hac vice is a legal term meaning "for this occasion," and refers to the lawyer being granted permission to serve in a state where he or she may not hold a law license. In this case, California-based Hoffman was filing to represent the plaintiffs in federal court in New York.

In the motion by Shell's lawyers to oppose Hoffman as counsel, they explain how seriously they take it:


"Defendants' counsel have over 70 years of experience among us, and none of the three of us has ever had occasion to oppose a pro hac vice application."


SO WHY WAS SHELL OPPOSING HOFFMAN'S PARTICIPATION IN THE TRIAL?


"However, here the website maintained by Mr. Hoffman's firm... contains an announcement that Mr. Hoffman will be one of the lead trial lawyers in this matter, along with a link to plaintiffs' "campaign video" that we have previously raised with the Court." [Emphasis added]


It goes on to conclude:

"posting of that link...is, in our view, inconsistent with counsel's obligations under the Canon 7 of the New York Lawyer's Code of Professional Responsibility, Ethical Consideration 7-33, and Disciplinary Rune 7-107."


Well, the court disagreed.

In the 'Minute Entry" of the court proceedings from May 18, the court rules against Shell's motion to deny Paul Hoffman's participation in the trial: "All pro hac vice applications are granted for the purposes of this case. The Court finds that statements made by plaintiff's counsel did not violate Rule 3.6 of New York Professional Conduct."

But then it goes on to say: "However, plaintiff's counsel must remove the video from the website."


Soon after those court proceedings, the video disappeared from the WiwavShell.org website, maintained by the Center for Constitutional Rights and EarthRights International, the two organizations who have been the plaintiffs' main co-counsel in the case.

I don't know how often or how vigorously Shell has complained about this video, but they have. And they take it so seriously that three lawyers with "over 70 years of experience" filed their first motion opposing an opposing counsel's pro hac vice application over it.


So what's the big deal? Well, you be the judge. Click on the image to WATCH the VIDEO that SHELL DOESN'T WANT YOU TO SEE



Note: I should disclose, as I did when I was on Democracy Now! recently, that I am a producer with Rikshaw Films and helped produce the video when I was working with the plaintiffs' attorneys (I no longer do).
 

Winefred M (88)
Friday May 29, 2009, 5:55 am
It doesn´t surprise me at all.
 

LucyKaleido S (82)
Saturday May 30, 2009, 3:19 am
How 'blasée' you are, Winefred! Thanks for the inspiring comment...

Otherwise, I made a comment giving the link that didn't come out the first time I wanted to give it, in my second comment up there, about the recent Nigerian military offensive against Niger Delta villages, which had begun 8 days before Amy Goodman devoted a program to it, on May 21st. That comment with the active link has mysteriously disappeared.
It was to show that the situation there has greatly worsened since 2006, when already an involved activist has spoken of the increased militarization of the Delta.

So here's hoping that it works this time:

Massive Casualties Feared in Nigerian Military Attack on Niger Delta Villages: The Nigerian military has been accused of killing hundreds, maybe thousands, of civilians in the oil-rich Niger Delta. - -The military offensive began 8 days ago but has received little international attention. We go to Nigeria to speak with Denzil Amagbe Kentebe of the Ijaw National Congress. We’re also joined by Sandy Cioffi, director of the new documentary Sweet Crude about the Niger Delta. The village of Oporoza, where much of the film was shot, has just been burned down.
 

Dometria Lanauze (6)
Saturday May 30, 2009, 10:04 am
Power to you, Alba for bringing this travesty to light
.For too many years, Shell and the conglomerate of self-seeking, so-called important people have been reeking havoc, around the globe where they have refineries. Most North Americans have no idea of the thousands of people whose lives have been ruined and whose environment have been polluted by their unethical practices. I've known about this for many years now and feel great sadness that for these conglomerates, "the 400,etc, the bottom line of making money has overshadowed their sense of humanity .
It is a part of the"Great White Way" where the lives of darker people, around our globe,are expendable for the sake of huge profits.Unfortunately, there is so much money behind the owners of Shell, Bush and Co.,etc., that they may continually get away with mass murder of those who dissent and with destroying the pristine environment upon which the silent masses have survived for centuries.
We can only hope that the Great Force will take care of the Karmic factor, which is huge. I don't drive but I will post this on Facebook to let others know that big corporations and the U. N. are not doing enough to protect these people, in Nigeria and other tribes in peril, elsewhere, who've not the voice abroad to address and protect their concerns. Peace in Our Quest for Truth.
 

LucyKaleido S (82)
Tuesday June 9, 2009, 2:59 am
Couldn't have said it better than you, Pamylle: really a GREAT comment, but I can't send you a star for it, cause I've (once again) used up my allotment of stars for you!!


Otherwise, there is NEWS ! BREAKING NEWS !
On the eve of the trial--- from the Guardian:

SHELL PAYS OUT OVER SARO-WIWA DEATH

>>Oil giant agrees $15.5m settlement after accusations of collaboration in execution in Nigeria in 1995>>

( My commnent- So the impunity of human rights violating corporations is over, or at least seriously damaged ! Will any ever again DARE to take such horrendous actions to remove opposition to their environmental & human destruction activities???

Their paying out is an admission of guilt, no ?? What do YOU think? )

++ (VIDEO) Shell settles trial over human rights violations
++ Ken Saro-Wiwa Jr: Some release from past torment

The main article:

The oil giant Shell has agreed to pay $15.5m (£9.6m) in settlement of a legal action in which it was accused of having ­collaborated in the execution of the writer Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other leaders of the Ogoni tribe of southern Nigeria.

The settlement, reached on the eve of the trial in a federal court in New York, was one of the largest payouts agreed by a ­multinational corporation charged with human rights violations.

The scale of the payment was being seen by experts in human rights law as a step towards international businesses being made accountable for their environmental and social actions.

Jennie Green, a lawyer with the Centre for Constitutional Rights who initiated the lawsuit in 1996, said: "This was one of the first cases to charge a multinational corporation with human rights violations, and this settlement confirms that multinational corporations can no longer act with the impunity they once enjoyed."

The deal follows three weeks of ­intensive negotiation between the 10 plaintiffs, mainly drawn from relatives of the executed Ogoni nine, and Shell. The oil giant, and its Nigerian subsidiary Shell Petroleum Development Company, continue to dismiss all the claims made against them, saying they played no part in the violence that swept southern Nigeria in the 1990s.

The company said it was making the payment in recognition of the tragic turn of events in Ogoni land. "While we were prepared to go to court to clear our name, we believe the right way forward is to focus on the future for Ogoni people," Malcolm Brinded, a Shell director, said.

The settlement marks the end of a 14-year personal journey for Ken Wiwa Jr, son of the executed leader.

Among the other plaintiffs was Karalolo Kogbara, who lost an arm after she was shot by Nigerian troops when she protested against the bulldozing of her village in 1993 to make way for a Shell pipeline.

Out of the $15.5m settlement, $5m will be used to set up a trust called Kiisi – meaning "progress" in the Ogoni Gokana language – to support educational and other initiatives in the Niger delta.

In the lawsuit, the families of the Ogoni nine alleged Shell conspired with the military government to capture and hang the men. Shell was also accused of a series of other alleged human rights violations, including working with the army to bring about killings and torture of Ogoni ­protesters.

The company was alleged to have provided the Nigerian army with vehicles, patrol boats and ammunition, and to have helped plan raids and terror campaigns against villages.

Supporters of the legal action said the fact that Shell had walked away from the trial suggested the company had been anxious about the evidence that would have been presented had it gone ahead. Stephen Kretzmann, director of Oil Change International, said Shell "knew the case was overwhelming against them, so they bought their way out of a trial".

Among the documents lodged with the New York court was a 1994 letter from Shell in which it agreed to pay a unit of the Nigerian army for services rendered. The unit had retrieved one of the company's fire trucks from the village of Korokoro – an action that according to reports at the time left one Ogoni man dead and two wounded. Shell wrote it was making the payment "as a show of gratitude and motivation for a sustained favourable disposition in future assignments".

Shell's involvement in the oil-rich Niger Delta extends back to 1958. It remains the largest oil business in Nigeria, owning some 90 oil fields across the country. The Ogoni people began non-violent agitation against Shell in the early 1990s under the leadership of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his organisation Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People. Mosop complained that the oil giant was responsible for devastating the ecosystem of the delta.

Human rights experts believe the settlement will have a substantial impact on other multi-national corporations. Anthony DiCaprio, a lead lawyer representing the Ogoni side, predicted it would "encourage companies to seriously consider the social and environmental impact their operations may have on a community or face the possibility of a suit".Shell reiterated its view that the executions of the Ogoni nine had been "tragic events". It said that it had "attempted to persuade the government of the day to grant clemency".
 

LucyKaleido S (82)
Wednesday July 15, 2009, 10:07 am
Settlement of Wiwa v. Shell not enough - Take Action to End the Abuse of Gas Flaring Now:

Shell: There is No Justice Until Gas Flaring Is Ended
Background - Send the letter to Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer


Dear Mr. van der Veer

With its June 8th payment of $15.5 million dollars in compensation to the victims of human rights abuses in Nigeria, Royal Dutch Shell says it hopes to begin a "process of reconciliation" with the people of the Ogoni region of the Niger Delta.

While the settlement in the case was a victory for the plaintiffs, true justice will not be served as long as the people of Nigeria continue to suffer the terrible impact of your company's operations.

Gas flaring in the Delta region causes respiratory illnesses, blindness, cancer and birth defects amongst local people. The toxic compounds in the gas have entered streams and fields, endangering the fishing and farming people rely on for their subsistence and livelihood. But the impact does not end in Nigeria. Gas flaring has caused more greenhouse gas emissions than all other sources in sub-Saharan Africa combined, thereby worsening climate change, which has damaging consequences for us all.

This atrocious practice must end. Shell has promised to stop gas flaring countless times. These broken promises aggravate the communities that continue to suffer the effects of 24-hour flaring and show a flagrant disregard for our climate that belies your professed concern.

It is clear that Shell's settlement in the Wiwa v. Shell case was intended to keep the overwhelming evidence of Shell's crimes in Nigeria from the scrutiny of a jury trial. But the case still brought Shell's ugly history in Ogoni to light, and served as a reminder that Ken Saro-Wiwa and other activists died struggling to end abuses like gas flaring that continue today.

According to your own figures, it would cost about 10% of last year's profits to end Shell's gas flaring in Nigeria once and for all. This is a small price to pay to end a human rights abuse that Shell has been committing for decades.

You will retire as CEO of Royal Dutch Shell at the end of this month. If your company truly wants "reconciliation" with the Ogoni and other people who have suffered the legacy of Shell's operations in their land for fifty years, we suggest you may begin by simply upholding the promise that you've made time and again to stop gas flaring.

As you retire, you have a choice of what kind of legacy you will leave behind; one of repeated broken promises or one of doing the right thing by ending gas flaring. Please make the right choice and end Shell's gas flaring in Nigeria once and for all.

Sincerely,
 
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