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It’s Not Just Uganda: Behind the Christian Right’s Onslaught in Africa April 3, 2014

Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Human Rights, Kenya, LGBT, Nigeria, Religion, Right Wing, Zimbabwe.
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For years now, evangelical activists from the United States have been speaking out against homosexuality and cheering on antigay legislation all over Africa.

As their influence has waned at home, antigay evangelists from the United States have been flexing their sanctimonious muscles influencing policymakers in Africa. (Photo: Travis Lupick / Flickr)

In Uganda, being gay can now earn you a lifetime in prison.

Last month, the East African country was again thrust into the international spotlight after President Yoweri Museveni signed into law a draconian bill that criminalized homosexuality. The high profile, on-and-off battle over the so-called “kill the gays” bill has drawn headlines for years as the most extreme example in a wave of antigay legislation on the continent. But homophobia in Africa is not merely an African problem.

As the gay rights movement has gained traction in the United States, the more virulently homophobic ideologies of the religious right have been pushed further out of the mainstream and into fringe territory. But as their influence has waned at home, right-wing evangelists from the United States have been flexing their sanctimonious muscles influencing policymakers in Africa.

For years now, evangelical activists from the United States have been injecting themselves into African politics, speaking out against homosexuality and cheering on antigay legislation on the continent. The influence of these groups has been well documented in Uganda. The now-defunct Exodus International, for example, sent Don Schmierer, a board member, to Uganda in 2009 to speak at a conference alongside Scott Lively, a pastor who was later sued by a Ugandan gay rights group for his role in promoting human rights violations against LGBTQ people. The two participated in a disturbing anti-gay conference, where speakers blamed homosexuals for the rise of Nazism and the Rwandan genocide, among other abhorrent acts. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, a hard-right Christian group that is active in U.S. politics as well, similarly supported anti-gay laws in Uganda. At the peak of controversy over the “kill the gays” bill, Perkins praised the Ugandan president for “leading his nation to repentance.”

But such groups aren’t just active in Uganda. They have promoted antigay legislation in Kenya, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe, just to name a few other places. The support ranges from popular agitation and sideline cheerleading to outright intervention.

In 2010, for example, when Zimbabwe began the process of drafting a new constitution, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ)—a Christian law firm founded by evangelist Pat Robertson—launched a Zimbabwean counterpart called the African Centre for Law and Justice. The outpost trained lawyers for the express purpose of putting a Christian stamp on the draft of the new constitution.

The African Centre joined forces with the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ), an indigenous organization, to promote constitutional language affirming that Zimbabwe is a Christian nation and ensuring that homosexuality remained illegal. These and other hardline views are outlined in a pamphlet distributed by the EFZ and ACLJ. Jordan Sekulow, the executive director of ACLJ, announced that his organization would lobby for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in political and religious circles in the event of any controversy over the provisions, despite the fact that the Zimbabwean president has been sanctioned by the United States and the European Union for violating human rights. Last year, Zimbabwe’s new constitution, which includes a ban on gay marriage, was approved by an overwhelming popular vote.

ACLJ’s Kenyan-based offshoot, the East African Center for Law and Justice (EACLJ), made an effort to lobby against Kenya’s progressive new constitution as well. In April 2010, a report on the group’s website called homosexuality “unacceptable” and “foreign” and called for the Kenyan constitution to clearly define marriage as between a man and a woman, thus closing the door on future laws that could attempt to legalize same-sex marriage. In this case the ECLJ was unsuccessful, and the new constitution was approved without any language regarding same-sex marriage.

Pat Robertson’s entanglements in Africa go well beyond Zimbabwe and Kenya.

In 1960, Robertson created The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), which broadcasts through cable and satellite to over 200 countries. Robertson is a co-host on the 700 Club, arguably CBN’s most popular show. From his perch on the show, Roberts has made a seemingly endless variety of inflammatory remarks about LGBTQ people and just about everyone else that does not fall in line with his own religious thinking.

In the United States, Robertson’s vitriol can be brushed aside as the antiquated ravings of a fringe figure. Not so in much of Africa. A survey conducted in 2010 found that 74 million people in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, had watched at least one CBN show in the previous year. That’s a remarkable reach considering Nigeria is home to over 80 million Christians.

Robertson’s influence plays into an increasingly hostile political climate for gays in the country. Last January, Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan signed into law the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which provides punishments of up to 14 years imprisonment for a gay marriage and up to 10 years for membership in or encouragement of gay clubs and organizations. The enactment of the law was followed by a wave of arrests of gay men—and widespread denouncement from the international community.

The religious right, however, doesn’t see Nigerian laws regarding homosexuality as a gross violation of human rights, but rather as protection of “traditional marriage.” In 2011, on the heels of the Nigerian Senate passing an earlier version of the anti-gay law, President Barack Obama announced that the United States would officially promote LGBTQ rights abroad as part of its development framework. In response, the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute denounced the administration’s directive for putting “U.S. foreign policy on a collision course with religious freedom.”

MassResistance, a Massachusetts-based organization that bills itself as a “pro-family” activist group, praised Nigeria when the Nigerian House passed an earlier version of the bill that President Jonathan signed into law on January 7. In a statement, the group said that African nations are “feeling the brunt” of the gay rights movement, claiming that the “huge spread of AIDS” and the “breakdown in society caused by the homosexual movement seems to bring more general social destruction in African cultures than in the West.” Anti-gay laws in Nigeria have enjoyed unequivocal support from some hardline evangelical groups in the United States, with some going so far as to travel to Nigeria to spread anti-gay sentiment.

One such group is Family Watch International (FWI), another U.S.-based “pro-family” advocacy group. Formed in 1999 and headed by Sharon Slater, FWI boasts members and supporters from over 170 countries. In 2011, Slater was the keynote speaker at a meeting of the Nigerian Bar Association, where she touted her beliefs on homosexuality, telling delegates that they would no longer have religious freedom and homosexuals would prey on their children if they supported “fictitious sexual rights.” To Slater and her ilk, the rights of LGBTQ persons are imaginary.

FWI even wields influence within the United Nations. In early 2011, FWI co-hosted a “Global Family Policy Forum” in Phoenix, Arizona. Over the two-day event, FWI coached 26 UN staffers from 23 different countries in attendance on how to resist UN initiatives on gay rights. An FWI newsletter claimed that conference attendees were finally hearing scientific and clinical “evidence” that homosexuality was not genetically determined and could be cured by therapy.

To some, the belief that homosexuality is a disease that needs to be cured may seem too ridiculous to even entertain. But if the devout can’t win at home, they’ll take their message abroad. It’s up to the international community and African activists dedicated to human rights to put an end to this export of hate.

Nigerian President Signs Ban on Same-Sex Relationships January 13, 2014

Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Human Rights, LGBT, Nigeria.
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Roger’s note: OK, so John Kerry and Samantha Power have spoken out against this abomination.  Now, what are they going to do about it?  If it were Cuba or Venezuela or Iran or North Korea, the U.S, would be at the United Nations demanding sanctions.    But Nigeria is a “friendlier” nation, not to mention one that has great reserves of oil.


By , JAN. 13, 2014, New York Times

A tough ban on same-sex relationships that threatens violators with 14-year prison terms has been quietly signed into law by the president of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, a step that rights advocates have long feared not only as a repression aimed at gays but as an affront to basic freedoms of speech and assembly.

The ban, known as the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, was passed by Parliament last May but was not signed by the president, Goodluck Jonathan, until Jan. 7, Nigerian news agencies reported Monday from Abuja, the capital.

It is considered the most significant setback to gay rights in Africa, where same-sex relationships are already widely prohibited. The law took effect as gay-rights advocacy is gaining traction elsewhere, led by the United States and other Western nations where the legality and acceptance ofsame-sex marriage and civil unions are expanding.

Under the Nigerian law, it is illegal not only to engage in an intimate relationship with a member of the same sex, but to attend or organize a meeting of gays, or patronize or operate any type of gay organization, including private clubs. Any same-sex marriages or partnerships accepted as legal in other countries would be void in Nigeria.


The signing by President Goodluck Jonathan was not publicized apparently to avoid offense to other countries where such relationships are permitted. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press

Language in an earlier draft of the law that would have made it a crime not to report a same-sex relationship — which could have forced parents to report gay children, for example — was deleted in the final version, according to The Associated Press, which said it had seen a copy of the final text.

The signing was not publicized apparently to avoid offense to other countries where such relationships are permitted, but word of it still provoked widespread condemnation. Secretary of State John Kerry, hearing the news while on a trip to Europe and the Middle East, said in a statement on Monday that he was “deeply concerned,” and asserted that the law violated basic human rights protections guaranteed by Nigeria’s own Constitution.

“Beyond even prohibiting same-sex marriage, the law dangerously restricts freedom of assembly, association and expression for all Nigerians,” Mr. Kerry said. The United States ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, also denounced the new law in a Twitter message, asserting she was “Deeply troubled that #Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan signed anti-#LGBT law. Big setback for human rights for all Nigerians.”

International advocates of gay rights also expressed alarm. Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International had strongly urged Mr. Jonathan in recent months not to sign it. The International Service for Human Rights, a Geneva-based nonprofit group, called on Nigeria to repeal what it called “a draconian law.”

Nigerian gay-rights advocates said the law also elevated the risk to people living with H.I.V. and AIDS, because organizations that help them might also be deemed illegal. Davis Mac-Iyalla, a gay-rights activist, said in an interview with SaharaReporters.com, a Nigerian news website, that the law’s effects “may well translate into more young people becoming homeless, and social and state violence.”

An even more severe antigay measure has been approved by the legislature in Uganda, but President Yoweri Museveni has not yet signed it.

With a population of more than 175 million, Nigeria is double the size of Africa’s next most populous nation, Ethiopia. As one of the world’s leading oil producers, Nigeria also carries enormous economic and political weight in Africa, and its message on gay rights is bound to resonate elsewhere on the continent.

Nigeria’s population, divided roughly in half between Christians and Muslims, is deeply conservative, with widespread hostility to homosexuality in both religious communities.

A poll on homosexuality conducted in 39 countries and published last June by the Pew Research Global Attitudes Project found that 98 percent of Nigerians — more than any other population surveyed — answered “no” to the question “Should society accept homosexuality?”

Musikilu Mojeed contributed reporting from Abuja, Nigeria.

Taming the Dirty Oil Giants November 17, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Energy, Environment, Nigeria.
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In days, Nigeria’s Parliament could approve a $5 billion fine against giant
oil polluter Shell for a spill that devastated the lives of millions of
, and pass a law to hold all oil companies to account for polluting and plundering.

This is a watershed moment,
but unless we all speak out, oil giants will crush it.

Finally, Big
Oil is having to pay for the wasteland and violence
that they’ve created.
President Jonathan supports the Shell fine
, and progressive Senators are
pushing for strong regulations, but oil companies are slick, and without huge
international support MPs could buckle under the pressure.

are deciding their positions right now — sign the urgent petition for the
Nigerian Parliament to fine Shell and support the bill, and then forward this to
— when we hit a million signers we’ll bring our unprecedented
global call to the steps of Nigeria’s Parliament:


Experts say that every year Big Oil spills as much crude into the
Niger Delta as an Exxon Valdez
, but as it is Africa, it gets little media
play. After a leak occurred at Shell’s Bonga oil facility last December,
millions of gallons poured into the ocean and washed up on the densely populated
coast — resulting in one of the largest African oil spills ever. The fine
and bill on the table are a once in a lifetime chance to stand up to Big

Oil companies have made $600 billion in the last 50 years in
Nigeria, but locals don’t see the benefits. Their land, drinking water and
fishing grounds are ruined. And Shell has spent hundreds of millions of
dollars a year on security forces,
repressing protest against its harmful

The oil industry is crucial to the economy, but companies have
never been held to account for the devastation of drilling. Now, the Nigerian
President and a few brave MPs are speaking out and they could finally slam the
oil giants with tough fines and give fair pay outs to the victims. If we show
MPs that the world supports these crucial steps, we can literally change the
lives of millions.
Click below to sign the urgent petition:


Avaazers have stood up to Big Oil all over the world, from Chevron in
Ecuador, to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, to ending fossil fuel subsidies
at the Rio Summit. Now let’s do it for Nigeria too. Make sure the politicians
send a message to Big Oil: your days of impunity are over.

With hope and

Pascal, Patricia, Alex, Ricken, David, Rewan, and the
Avaaz team

Shell Faces $5 Billion Nigeria Fine (Wall Street

Shell urged to pay Nigeria $5bn over Bonga oil spill (BBC)

Shell’s grip on Nigerian state revealed (The Guardian)

U.N. slams Shell as Nigeria needs biggest ever oil clean-up

Nigeria: Oil spill investigations ‘a fiasco’ in the Niger Delta (Amnesty

Nigeria is days from passing the “Jail the Gays” bill November 16, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in LGBT, Nigeria.
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Nigeria is days from passing the “Jail the Gays” bill - one of the harshest anti-gay laws the world has ever seen. The proposed law will mean 10 years in prison for two people daring to hold hands in public.

  • Live with someone of the same sex – 10 years in prison
  • Organise a gathering of gay people – 10 years in prison
  • Support the idea of a pride march – 10 years in prison
After a year languishing in the House of Assembly, the “Jail the Gays” bill has been rushed through with zero notice. The only roadblock before it becomes law is one signature – President Goodluck Jonathan’s. Last year, 65,000 of us stood against this bill and it was abandoned! Can you take one minute to help us do it again?  It takes only one minute but it could change history:


When the bill was first introduced, politicians said there were no gay people in their country. Our friends in Nigeria have said they are not taking this lying down – they’ve got a plan and they’re asking for our help. Right now, they are organising an unprecedented response of African advocates – both straight and gay – to speak out against this bill. Today, we are showing that not only do Nigerian LGBT people exist, but the whole world has their back. Will you stand with Nigerians against this hateful law and help us to get to 100,000 signatures?


The only way to stop this bill is to trumpet Nigerian voices for equality – supported by millions around the world. President Jonathan can veto the bill – and if he hears these Nigerian voices, he’ll have to.

We know we can drive the right message to every government and media organisation around the world to make sure President Goodluck Jonathan knows his people and their allies will not tolerate him signing this bill into law. Will you take one minute and add your name now?


Thanks for going All Out.

Best, Andre, Hayley, Jeremy, Sara and the rest of the All Out team.



Nigerian law-makers move ahead on anti-gay bill www.nation.co.ke/News/africa/Nigerian-lawmakers-move-ahead-on-anti-gay-bill

All Out is bringing people together in every corner of the planet and of every identity – lesbian, gay, straight, bisexual, transgender and all that’s between and beyond – to build a world in which everyone can live freely and be embraced for who they are.

Our mailing address is: Purpose Foundation 224 Centre St New York, NY 10013

Copyright © 2012 AllOut.org, All rights reserved.

Obama Admininstration Backs Shell in Supreme Court Case August 25, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Energy, Environment, Human Rights, Labor, Nigeria.
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Roger’s note: Vote Obama!  “Plus ca change …” you can believe in.

Published on Saturday, August 25, 2012 by CorpWatch Blog


The Obama administration is backing Shell Oil after abruptly changing sides in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that could make it even more difficult for survivors of human rights abuses overseas to sue multinational corporations in federal courts. The case will be heard on October 1.

Lawyers at EarthRights International, a Washington-based human rights law nonprofit, say they suspect that a new legal submission – which was signed only by the U.S. Justice Department – reflects tensions inside the government on how to deal with multinational corporations do business in the U.S. Significantly, neither the State nor the Commerce Department signed on to the brief, despite their key roles in the case.

“It was shocking,” Jonathan Kaufman EarthRights legal policy coordinator commented to Reuters. “The brief was largely unexpected, based on what they had filed previously, and pretty breathtaking.”

At issue is the Alien Torts Claim Act (ATCA) – an 18th century U.S. law originally designed to combat piracy on the high seas – that has been used during the last 30 years as a vehicle to bring international law violations cases to U.S. federal courts.

Lawyers began using ATCA as a tool in human rights litigation in 1979, when the family of 17-year-old Joel Filartiga, who was tortured and killed in Paraguay, sued the Paraguayan police chief responsible. Filartiga v. Peña-Irala set a precedent for U.S. federal courts to punish non-U.S. citizens for acts committed outside the U.S. that violate international law or treaties to which the U.S. is a party. ATCA has brought almost 100 cases of international (often state-sanctioned) torture, rape and murder to U.S. federal courts to date.

In recent years, a number of ATCA lawsuits have also been filed against multinationals which has angered the business lobby. “Expansion of this problem into the international arena via ATCA promises nothing but trouble for U.S. economic and foreign policy interests worldwide,” wrote John Howard, vice president of international policy and programs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “U.S. national interests require that we not allow the continuing misapplication of this 18th century statute to 21st century problems by the latter day pirates of the plaintiffs’ bar.”

No plaintiff against a corporation has won on ATCA grounds, although some have settled or plea bargained. In 1996 Doe v. Unocal, a lawsuit filed by ethnic Karen farmers against Unocal (now owned by Chevron) set a new precedent when a U.S. federal court ruled that corporations and their executive officers could be held legally responsible for crimes against humanity. Unocal contracted with the Burmese military dictatorship to provide security for a natural gas pipeline project on the border of Thailand and Burma. The suit accused Unocal of complicity in murder, rape and forcing locals to work for Unocal for free. Shortly before the jury trial was set to begin in 2005, Unocal settled with the plaintiffs by paying an undisclosed sum, marking the first time a corporation settled in any way a case based on the ATCA.

Another such case was filed against Chiquita, the global banana producer, by surviving victims of brutal massacres waged by right-wing paramilitary squads in Colombia. The paramilitary, who killed thousands of civilians during Colombia’s dirty war of the 1980s and 1990s, were on Chiquita’s payroll in the 1990s. Now-U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder defended Chiquita in the case and won a plea bargain for them of $25 million and five years of probation.

Holder isn’t the only Justice Department staffer who defended a corporation in an ATCA case. Sri Srinivasan, recently nominated for the second highest position in the Justice Department, represented Exxon Mobil in a case brought against them by Indonesian villagers who survived alleged attacks, torture and murder by Indonesian military units hired by Exxon to provide security. Lower courts disagreed on Exxon’s liability under ATCA, and in 2011 an appeals court sent the case back to trial.

Which brings us to the case currently before the Supreme Court – Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. (Shell) – brought by relatives of nine Nigerian Ogoni activists who were executed in 1995 by a military dictatorship allegedly working in collaboration with Shell. For the last ten years, the widow of executed Dr. Barinem Kiobel and other Nigerian refugees have been trying to prove in court that the British-Dutch multinational oil company Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., or Shell Oil, conspired with the Nigerian military to illegally detain, torture and kill critics of Shell’s environmentally destructive practices in the Niger Delta.

In February the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case to determine whether or not corporations – as opposed to private parties – could be sued under the ATCA. At that time the Justice Department, submitted a “friend of the court” brief that said they could.

Lawyers say that if the Supreme Court accepts that the case can be heard in U.S. courts, it will mark a significant step forward for human rights activists. It will also send a powerful signal to business that any violations overseas can be prosecuted if they do business in the U.S.

Then in June, the Obama administration, suddenly changed its opinion. The new brief from the Justice Department “read like a roadmap for getting rid of cases Srinivasan and Holder had worked on previously” EarthRights attorney Kaufman told Reuters.

In its submission filed in response to a Supreme Court order to re-argue whether or not ATCA applied to territories outside the U.S., the Justice Department urged the Supreme Court to dismiss the suit against Shell. The brief’s authors stated that the ATCA was not appropriate for Kiobel or other lawsuits involving foreign corporations accused of collaborating in human rights abuses with a foreign government outside U.S. territory.

U.S. courts “should not create a cause of action that challenges the actions of a foreign sovereign in its own territory, where the [sued party] is a foreign corporation of a third country that allegedly aided and abetted the foreign sovereign’s conduct,” the Justice Department wrote.

However, the Justice Department stopped short of categorically barring all similar cases that occur outside the U.S. from ATCA eligibility, and it left ambiguous whether the current recommendation would prevent future ATCA lawsuits against U.S. citizens or corporations, or in cases where abuses take place on the high seas.

EarthRights International filed three Freedom of Information Act requests in July to look for evidence showing whether or not corporate interests and lobbying influenced the government’s decision to back Shell.

“If disclosed, this information will help reveal whether or not the business interests of Attorney General Eric Holder or Deputy Solicitor General Sri Srinivasan influenced the government’s position in Kiobel,” said Kaufman.



Puck Lo

Puck Lo is a freelance writer, researcher and multimedia producer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. www.pucklo.com


gardenernorcal2 hours ago

“U.S. courts “should not create a cause of action that challenges the actions of a foreign sovereign in its own territory, where the [sued party] is a foreign corporation of a third country that allegedly aided and abetted the foreign sovereign’s conduct,” the Justice Department wrote.”

Yet we can get involved in regime change in foreign sovereign countries like Libya and Syria?

itsthethird42 minutes ago

Multinational corporations make law and justice with the
power of money and provide a safe haven to social predators while promoting the
rape of the planet for profit. The world
has no or few laws and little to no enforcement of justice to limit or abolish
multi National corporate abuse but in fact what laws exist or are enforced
promote abuse and injustice in the name of profit to shareholders. However the shareholders are for the most
part other corporations not people but a few greedy power hungry social predators. It’s time the world limits the criminal abuse
of multinational corporations and the few who control them for gain and or


Niger Delta Women Act Against Abuses by Big Oil November 10, 2010

Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Environment, Human Rights, Nigeria.
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In several separate incidents, Nigerian women have engaged in peaceful struggle against the oil multinationals wrecking their environment, livelihoods and those of their families and their future.
Hundreds of women took over the Escravos Chevron-Nigerian government gas pipeline project in mid-August 2010 over failure of Chevron and the government to address their concerns. The women demanded shore protection (oil company operations lead to erosion and loss of community land) and local electrification as well as jobs.

“The reason why we filed this protest is that the affected communities want shore-piling for erosion control. We also need step down line for industrial electrification for the entire Ugborodo communities”. -Chief Thomas Ereyitobi, Chairman of Ugborodo community

“Madam Mercy Olowu, Ugborodo woman leader, lamented the devastating impact of decades of oil exploration and exploitation on the communities. ‘Things have remained the same here since I was 15 years old. Nothing has changed except that the oil companies’ activities has spoilt our land and caused untold hardship to the people. We can no longer bear this brunt.’”
In the series of actions the women also threatened to halt the operations of Chevron’s Escravos-Gas-to Liquid plant due to the impact of the company’s operations in the state if the government failed to address their situation.
“In less than three years from now the surging Atlantic Ocean would have wiped away our communities from the face of the earth and in spite of our crying out loudly everyday in the media to call the attention of the Federal Government to our plight, the Niger Delta Ministry did not deem it fit to include the Ugborodo shore protection project in the recently advertised job showing clearly that we are not part of the Nigerian project.”
Similarly for two days in late August two Shell flow stations were shut down while occupied by local women protesting lack of development.
In early September hundreds of Ijaw women from Bayelsa State laid siege to the Shell facility at Torugbene community. Not uncommon in Nigeria is the militarized response to peaceful protest.
“The Sector 2 Commander admonished the troops deployed to the facility and other areas of the council area to ensure “the use of proper tactical, overt and covert operations to protect the vast infrastructure and equipment at the rig site as well as protection of the rig staff.”

Shell Must Clean up Its Act in Nigeria December 4, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Environment, Nigeria.
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Published on Friday, December 4, 2009 by The Guardian/UK

As Nigerian villagers take Shell to court over huge oil spills, it’s time for the group to take responsibility for polluting practices

by Chima Williams

A court in The Hague is considering whether Shell can be held liable for alleged pollution in Nigeria, and a ruling is expected on 30 December. This case could set a precedent for corporations based in Europe that exploit lax environmental regulations and violate the rights of communities in the developing world.In the village of Ikot Ada Udot, south-eastern Nigeria, a rusty complex of tubes pokes five feet out of the ground. A familiar sight to locals, it is known as the “Christmas tree”. But unlike its innocuous namesake, this “tree” is an abandoned oil wellhead owned by oil multinational Shell. According to environmentalists, the wellhead spewed toxic oil and gas into the land and fish ponds of local villagers for months in August 2006, and again in 2007. As of May 2008, the area around the Christmas tree was still heavily polluted and villagers remain destitute.

This is one of three oil spills in the case against Shell that will begin its first hearing at The Hague civil court this week. Four Nigerian villagers, in conjunction with Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth Netherlands), are charging Royal Dutch Shell with causing massive oil spills that have resulted in loss of livelihoods. The case provides a snapshot of the environmental and social devastation caused by Shell in the Niger Delta.

The bigger, more disturbing picture is that oil spills have contaminated the once fertile Delta with approximately 1.5m tonnes of crude oil, equivalent to one Exxon Valdez disaster every year for the last 50 years. As Amnesty International pointed out in a report this July, Shell “has failed to respect the human rights of the people of the Niger Delta … through failure to prevent and mitigate pollution”.

The parent company, Royal Dutch Shell, denies responsibility for the pollution of its subsidiary, Shell Nigeria, and is challenging the jurisdiction of the Dutch court over its actions abroad. It also blames oil spills on sabotage to its equipment. It seems that if Shell had its way, no court would have jurisdiction over any violations of human rights and environmental law. In 2005, the federal high court of Nigeria declared Shell’s gas flaring to be a violation of human rights and ordered the company to stop the illegal practice. Shell has still not complied with this court order. With little or no legal remedy in Nigeria, villagers from the Niger Delta have decided to bring their case to The Hague to hold the company headquarters to account.

Should the case go forward, the court would hear about Shell’s systematic pollution across the region. In Goi, a massive oil spill from Shell’s Trans-Niger pipeline caught fire in 2005, incinerating farmland, property and polluting fisheries. It took 33 months before Shell cleaned up the mess. Chief Barizaa, an Ogoni elder, and one of the four plaintiffs in the case said: “I lost everything … the oil flowed into my fishponds and killed all my fish. The five canoes I had in the creeks were consumed by the inferno. I have nothing left to feed my family.”

Another oil spill flowed from a high-pressure pipeline in Oruma, Bayelsa state, in 2005, polluting the land and drinking water of several neighbouring communities. Shell waited 12 days before containing the spill, and four months later it began its clean-up operation by dumping the polluted soil into pits and setting them on fire, causing further damage to the environment.

The oil-rich Niger Delta is prized by multinational corporations; chief among them is Shell, which derives approximately 10% of its global profits from the region. The oil companies have made enormous profits and enriched a succession of Nigerian regimes, but pollution is driving local people into poverty. Until Shell takes responsibility for its impact on the environment and human rights, it can expect legal actions like this one to expose ugly truths about their polluting practices. Shell must bear the cost of its environmental devastation. The alternative is daily injustice on a massive scale.

© Guardian News and Media Limited 2009
Chima Williams is a lawyer by profession. He is an activist with Environmental Rights, Action/ Friends of the Earth in Nigeria. He advocates for changes in policy and environmental regulation in Nigeria and West Africa

True Cost of Chevron (Alternative Report) June 3, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Asia, Environment, Human Rights, Latin America, Nigeria.
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  True Cost of Chevron Coalition Releases Alternative Annual Report“Chevron refuses to clean up its mess in Nigeria.” ChevWrong Ad Campaign designed by Underground Ads 



Dear Friends,

JINN is a member of the large coalition that wrote and released The True Cost of Chevron: An Alternative Annual Report last week in time for Chevron’s shareholder meeting.  Several members of the coaltion presented the report to shareholders, the board of directors and Chevron’s CEO David O’Reilly inside the shareholder meeting.  O’Reilly responded by saying the report belonged in the trash can and that he was personally insulted by the statements made by the proxies who represented Chevron affected communities around the world.  Read the Full Press Rlease from the Coalition

Our ally from the Niger Delta, human rights activist, Tunde Okorodudu was able to speak inside the shareholder meeting. He said:  “David O’Reilly showed nothing but disrespect to all those who traveled from around the world to address the shareholder meeting, Chevron has done nothing but enable the culture of violence that now permeates my region.”

Below is the announcement for the report and website with full information. Read the report and spread the word!  TrueCostofChevron.com

True Cost
of Chevron

An Alternative Annual Report
May 2009

Amazon Watch · CorpWatch · Crude Accountability · Environmental Rights Action
EarthRights International · Filipino-American Coalition for Environmental Solidarity · Global Exchange Justice in Nigeria Now · Mpalabanda · Rainforest Action Network · Richmond Progressive Alliance Trustees for Alaska · US Labor Against the War · West County Toxics Coalition 
Think you know Chevron? Think again.Chevron’s 2008 annual report is a glossy celebration of the company’s most profitable year in its history. What Chevron’s annual report does not tell its shareholders is the true cost paid for those financial returns, or the global movement gaining voice and strength against Chevron’s abuses. Thus, we, the communities and our allies who bear the consequences of Chevron’s oil and natural gas production, refineries, depots, pipelines, exploration, offshore drilling rigs, coal fields, chemical plants, political control, consumer abuse, false promises, and much more, have prepared an Alternative Annual Report for Chevron.

The True Cost of Chevron: An Alternative Annual Report is a one-stop-shop for activists, policy makers, journalists, investors, analysts, and communities in struggle.

It is the most comprehensive exposé of Chevron’s operations – and the communities in struggle against them – ever compiled. It includes reports from Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, the Gulf Coast, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Utah, Washington, D.C, and Wyoming; internationally across Angola, Burma, Canada, Chad, Cameroon, Ecuador, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, and the Philippines.

Antonia Juhasz is the lead author and editor of the report, which includes the writings of sixteen additional authors from across the U.S. and around the world and the contributions of dozens of organizations.

The 44-page report is available to download at TrueCostofChevron.com – a visually stunning website using our ChevWrong “Inhumane Energy” ads that reveal the hypocrisy of Chevron’s human energy ad campaign. The report and the ads can be downloaded for free from the website, which also provides links to the organizations involved in the True Cost of Chevron campaign and more.







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Photo LEFT: Fire burning at Chevron Pascagoula, MS refinery, photograph by Christy Pritchett ran August 17, 2007.
Courtesy of the Press-Register 2007 © All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

Chevron, Shell and the True Cost of Oil May 27, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Environment, Human Rights, Nigeria.
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Published on Wednesday, May 27, 2009 by TruthDig.com by Amy Goodman

The economy is a shambles, unemployment is soaring, the auto industry is collapsing. But profits are higher than ever at oil companies Chevron and Shell. Yet across the globe, from the Ecuadorian jungle, to the Niger Delta in Nigeria, to the courtrooms and streets of New York and San Ramon, Calif., people are fighting back against the world’s oil giants.

Shell and Chevron are in the spotlight this week, with shareholder meetings and a historic trial being held.

On May 13, the Nigerian military launched an assault on villages in that nation’s oil-rich Niger Delta. Hundreds of civilians are feared killed in the attack. According to Amnesty International, a celebration in the delta village of Oporoza was attacked. An eyewitness told the organization: “I heard the sound of aircraft; I saw two military helicopters, shooting at the houses, at the palace, shooting at us. We had to run for safety into the forest. In the bush, I heard adults crying, so many mothers could not find their children; everybody ran for their life.”

Shell is facing a lawsuit in U.S. federal court, Wiwa v. Shell, based on Shell’s alleged collaboration with the Nigerian dictatorship in the 1990s in the violent suppression of the grass-roots movement of the Ogoni people of the Niger Delta. Shell exploits the oil riches there, causing displacement, pollution and deforestation. The suit also alleges that Shell helped suppress the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People and its charismatic leader, Ken Saro-Wiwa. Saro-Wiwa had been the writer of the most famous soap opera in Nigeria, but decided to throw his lot in with the Ogoni, whose land near the Niger Delta was crisscrossed with pipelines. The children of Ogoniland did not know a dark night, living beneath the flame-apartment-building-size gas flares that burned day and night, and that are illegal in the U.S.

I interviewed Saro-Wiwa in 1994. He told me: “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 human rights of individuals and of communities quite easily, without compunction.” He added, “I am a marked man.” Saro-Wiwa returned to Nigeria and was arrested by the military junta. On Nov. 10, 1995, after a kangaroo show trial, Saro-Wiwa was hanged with eight other Ogoni activists.

In 1998, I traveled to the Niger Delta with journalist Jeremy Scahill. A Chevron executive there told us that Chevron flew troops from Nigeria’s notorious mobile police, the “kill ‘n’ go,” in a Chevron company helicopter to an oil barge that had been occupied by nonviolent protesters. Two protesters were killed, and many more were arrested and tortured.

Oronto Douglas, one of Saro-Wiwa’s lawyers, told us: “It is very clear that Chevron, just like Shell, uses the military to protect its oil activities. They drill and they kill.”

Chevron is the second-largest stakeholder (after French oil company Total) of the Yadana natural gas field and pipeline project, based in Burma (which the military junta renamed Myanmar). The pipeline provides the single largest source of income to the military junta, amounting to close to $1 billion in 2007. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, popularly elected the leader of Burma in 1990, has been under house arrest for 14 of the past 20 years, and is standing trial again this week. [On Tuesday the government said it had ended the house arrest of Suu Kyi, but she remains in detention pending the outcome of the trial.] The U.S. government has barred U.S. companies from investing in Burma since 1997, but Chevron has a waiver, inherited when it acquired the oil company Unocal.

Chevron’s litany of similar abuses, from the Philippines to Kazakhstan, Chad-Cameroon, Iraq, Ecuador and Angola and across the U.S. and Canada, is detailed in an “alternative annual report” prepared by a consortium of nongovernmental organizations and is being distributed to Chevron shareholders at this week’s annual meeting, and to the public at TrueCostofChevron.com.

Chevron is being investigated by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo about whether the company was “accurate and complete” in describing potential legal liabilities. It enjoys, though, a long tradition of hiring politically powerful people. Condoleezza Rice was a longtime director of the company (there was even a supertanker named after her), and the recently hired general counsel is none other than disgraced Pentagon lawyer William J. Haynes, who advocated for “harsh interrogation techniques,” including waterboarding. Gen. James L. Jones, President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, sat on the Chevron board of directors for most of 2008, until he received his high-level White House appointment.

Saro-Wiwa said before he died, “We are going to demand our rights peacefully, nonviolently, and we shall win.” A global grass-roots movement is growing to do just that.

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

© 2009 Amy Goodman

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 700 stations in North America. She was awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the “Alternative Nobel” prize, and received the award in the Swedish Parliament in December.

Niger Delta in the Midst of Worst Violence in Years May 25, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Nigeria.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
  Niger Delta in the Midst of Worst Violence in Years     Displaced women and children taking refuge at the relief camp at Ogbeh-Ijoh (Vanguard)
                                             JUSTICE IN NIGERIA NOW! (JINN)                              

nigeria displace women and children

Displaced women and children taking refuge at the relief camp at Ogbeh-Ijoh (Vanguard)

Dear Friends,

You may have heard about the current violence that has taken over the Niger Delta. We at JINN are extremely concerned about the Nigerian military attacks over the past several days.  Through the efforts of our allies working to bring peace to the Niger Delta, Senator Russ Feingold and Senator John Kerry have recently issued statements condemning the violence. 

Worst Violence in Years, Niger Delta Communities Under Siege

I heard the sound of aircraft; I saw two military helicopters, shooting at the houses, at the palace, shooting at us. We had to run for safety into the forest. In the bush, I heard adults crying, so many mothers could not find their children; everybody ran for their life.”  An Eyewitness to the Oporoza Village Massacre on May 15th
For the past 12 days, the Nigerian military Joint Task Force/JTF has been razing villages and killing civilians across the Warri South portion of the Niger Delta.  According to reports received by Amnesty International, hundreds of bystanders, including women and children, are believed to have been killed and thousands have fled to the mangrove forests in fear for their lives.   The JTF has been allegedly targeting areas where armed groups are located, but over 20,000 people have been caught in the crossfire.  For the first several days of the attacks, the Nigerian government prohibited any journalists or aid groups from entering the region, and the military attacks have escalated under the guise of rooting out militants associated with the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND). 

According to Reuters, “Nigeria’s lower house of parliament has passed a resolution urging President Umaru Yar’Adua to extend the biggest military operation for years in the Niger Delta into neighbouring states.”

Read other articles on the escalating crisis 

Broad Coalition Urges International  Criminal Court to Prosecute

In response to these outrageous attacks, JINN, as part of a broad international coalition of groups, requested the International Criminal Court’s Office of the Prosecutor to open an immediate investigation into what appears to be a systematic campaign of violence against civilians by the Armed Forces of the Nigerian government.  We are still awaiting a response. Read the letter to the ICC

Senator Feingold and Senator Kerry Condemn the Military Attacks in the Delta

Those who learn what is happening in the Niger Delta are outraged and concerned for the safety of thousands. On May 22, U.S. Senator Russ Feingold spoke out strongly against the Nigerian government’s actions, and called for the Nigerian government to address the legitimate concerns of the people of the Niger Delta.   He said “I urge the Obama administration to think creatively about how we can work multilaterally to help end this long-standing crisis in the Niger Delta.” Read Full Statement

Senator John Kerry followed with his statement on May 23 stating: “Civilian protection and humanitarian needs must be prioritized in the current offensive, and all parties to the conflict should engage in a process to bring an end to the widespread violence and criminality that have long plagued the region and to address the needs of the population.” Read Full Statement

Amnesty International Reports Eye-Witness Accounts
Amnesty International gathered reports directly from the effected villages stating: “Many houses in the communities have been set on fire and destroyed by the military. People are still in hiding in the forest, with no access to medical care and food. The main method of transportation for these communities is by boat. However, according to reports, people attempting to travel by water are being targeted”  Read Full Statement   

The current crisis in the Delta means that your attendance and involvement in this weeks upcoming activities is even more important.  Join JINN on Wednesday and Thursday!

“I Will Protest Chevron” at Chevron’s Headquarters in San Ramon   Wednesday, May 27, 7am – 10:30 am, in front of Chevron Headquarters (6001 Bollinger Canyon Road San Ramon, CA) with carpooling options – Map   Join our broad coalition of protestors representing Richmond, the Philippines, Nigeria, Ecuador and Burma and others effected by Chevron.  To view a new parody Chevron’s ads and for more information on rally logistics, go to our coalition website: TrueCostOfChevron.com    Sweet Crude – San Francisco Premiere  Thursday May 28 7pm: Sweet Crude and Filmmaker Sandy Cioffi at the CounterCorp Film Festival
Sadly, this amazing new film on the Niger Delta by Sandy Cioffi is centered in the village of Oporoza that has just been razed by the Nigerian military.  This film gives one of the best historical contexts to what is happening now.   Come for a discussion with the filmmaker about the current crisis in the Delta.  Victoria Theater 2961 16th Street (at Mission St.) Map  
Thank you for giving these issues attention in the midst of your busy schedules. The people of the Niger Delta need ot feel your support  Please let everyone you know about what is happening!
Sarah, Laura and JINN Volunteers


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