Niger Delta Women Act Against Abuses by Big Oil November 10, 2010Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Environment, Human Rights, Nigeria.
Tags: Africa, chevron, environment, niger delta, nigeria, nigeria oil, protest, roger hollander, shell oil, women
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“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
“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.”
“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, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Environment, Nigeria.
Tags: Africa, chima williams, environment, environmental contamination, environmental damage, environmental justice, environmental rights, human rights, niger delta, nigeria, nigeria environment, nigeria oil, oil contamination, oil spills, roger hollander, royal dutch shell, shell nigeria, shell oil, shill pollution, west africa
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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
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.
Chevron, Shell and the True Cost of Oil May 27, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Environment, Human Rights, Nigeria.
Tags: Amnesty International, amy goodman, burma, chevron, Condoleezza Rice, denis moynihan, ecuador oil, environment, human rights, james jones, jeremy scahill, ken saro wiwa, myanmar, niger delta, nigeria oil, nigerian dictatorship, nigerian military, ogoni, oil contamination, oporoza, roger hollander, san suu kyi, shell, waterboarding, william haynes
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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.
Justice for Nigerians Brings Shell to Court in NY April 9, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Environment, Nigeria.
Tags: Africa, africa colonialism, africa shell, africa solidarity, constritutional rights, environment, human rights, niger delta, nigeria, nigeria murders, nigerian military, roger hollander, shell, shell oil, shell trial
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On May 26, 2009, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), co-counsel EarthRights International (ERI) and other human rights attorneys will bring oil giant Shell to federal court in New York for the start of a landmark trial for corporate accountability. CCR is pleased to make two exciting announcements as we draw nearer to the trial: we are launching a short film developed by CCR and ERI titled The Case Against Shell, and a new website, www.WiwavShell.org
In the early 1990′s, following decades of Shell’s environmental devastation in the Niger Delta in Nigeria, the Ogoni people of the region organized a non-violent movement against the oil company.
Shell’s response? They armed, financed, and otherwise colluded with the Nigerian military regime to repress the non-violent movement – leading to the torture and shootings of Ogoni people as well as massive raids and the destruction of Ogoni villages. In one incident, Shell was building an oil pipeline and requested support from the Nigerian military. The pipeline destroyed Karalolo Kogbara’s farm and, as she was crying over her lost crops, the soldiers shot her. In a separate incident, Uebari N-nah was shot and killed by soldiers near a Shell flow station; the soldiers were requested by and later compensated by Shell. Furthermore, Shell helped develop a strategy that resulted in the 1995 executions of nine of the movement’s leaders, including internationally acclaimed writer and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa.
Shell must be held accountable. As Ken Saro-Wiwa’s son, Ken Saro-Wiwa Jr. has said about the upcoming trial against Shell, “We need to have people account for their role in the executions and the displacement of the Ogoni people, many of whom feel traumatized. It will be a relief. It will enable people to face the future. That’s the most important thing. Let’s account for the past, so we can move forward.”
Executive Director, CCR
Shell in Court Over Alleged Role in Nigeria Executions April 5, 2009Posted by rogerhollander in Environment, Human Rights.
Tags: environment oil, ken saro wiwa, nick mathiason, niger delta, nigeria, nigeria environment, nigeria environmental damgae, nigerian military, ogoni, roger hollander, shell, shell contamination, shell executions, shell lawsuit, shell pollution, shell torture, slell oil
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Published on Sunday, April 5, 2009 by The Guardian/UK
Family of environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, hanged by his country’s rulers in 1995, take oil giant to court in New York
Ken Saro-Wiwa swore that one day Shell, the oil giant, would answer for his death in a court of law. Next month, 14 years after his execution, the Nigerian environmental activist’s dying wish is to be fulfilled.
In a New York federal court, Shell and one of its senior executives are to face charges that in the early 1990s in Nigeria they were complicit in human rights abuses, including summary execution and torture.
The Anglo-Dutch company, if found liable, could be forced to pay hundreds of millions of pounds in damages. No multinational has ever been found guilty of human rights abuses, although two previous cases saw major claims settled outside court.
Saro-Wiwa became famous as a campaigner on behalf of the Ogoni people, leading peaceful protests against the environmental damage caused by oil companies in the Niger Delta. There was worldwide condemnation when, along with eight other activists, he was hanged by the Nigerian military government in 1995 after being charged with incitement to murder after the death of four Ogoni elders. Many of the prosecution witnesses later admitted that they had been bribed to give evidence against Saro-Wiwa, who was a respected television writer and businessman.
Lawyers in New York will allege that Shell actively subsidised a campaign of terror by security forces in the Niger Delta and attempted to influence the trial that led to Saro-Wiwa’s execution. The lawsuit alleges that the company attempted to bribe two witnesses in his trial to testify against him. Members of Saro-Wiwa’s family will take the stand for the first time to give their version of events, among them his brother Owens, who will allege that Brian Anderson, managing director of Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary, told him: “It would not be impossible to get charges dropped if protests were called off.” Anderson is fighting the action.
Witnesses who were shot by military police in the Niger Delta principally to protect the building of Shell’s oil pipeline will allege that Shell, by paying the police to protect its interests, was complicit in acts of violence.
Speaking to the Observer from Abuja, Nigeria, Saro-Wiwa’s son, Ken Wiwa, said: “For 14 years we have lived with the memory of a father, an uncle, a brother, a son executed for a crime he didn’t commit. We have daily reminders. It’s painful to live with a monstrous injustice. To wake up one day to finally get our day in court is tremendously satisfying.
“After the injustice of the original crime against my father, having to watch legal arguments [by Shell] using the highest-paid lawyers in the world is sickening. You can’t describe how painful that is to go through.
“Part of the reason for the original protest was the way Shell behaved. Ogoni people made their living farming and fishing, but Shell was using open waste pits and oil pipelines criss-crossed the land. These polluting activities were put on top of a delicate ecosystem. It destroyed people’s ability to sustain themselves. That’s the impact of Shell and, when people tried to protest, they were brutally repressed.”
In a statement, Shell this weekend described the executions of the Ogoni 9 as “tragic events carried out by the Nigerian government in power at the time”.
“Shell attempted to persuade that government to grant clemency; to our deep regret, that appeal – and the appeals of many others – went unheard, and we were shocked and saddened when we heard the news. Shell in no way encouraged or advocated any act of violence against them or their fellow Ogonis. We believe that the evidence will show clearly that Shell was not responsible for these tragic events. The allegations made in the complaints against Royal Dutch/Shell concerning the 1995 executions of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his eight fellow Ogonis are false and without merit.”
US lawyers have finally won permission to bring the case to court under the alien tort statute, which gives non-US citizens the right to file claims in American courts for international human rights violations. The court case had been set for 27 April, though last night the date was moved to 26 May.
Today the oil-producing Niger Delta region is riven by intense violence and corruption. The Ogoni 9 trial is seen as a way of coming to terms with the past and building a non-violent future.
“We need to know the truth,” said Ken Wiwa last night. “We need to have people account for their role in the executions and the displacement of the Ogoni people, many of whom feel traumatised. It will be a relief. It will enable people to face the future. That’s the most important thing. Let’s account for the past, so we can move forward.”
Lawyers representing Saro-Wiwa’s family have not sought specific damages should Shell be found liable, but legal experts say the oil giant could face fines running into hundreds of millions of pounds.
Jenny Green, a senior lawyer at the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, who has played a pivotal role in ensuring the Saro-Wiwa case made it to court, said: “Mosop [the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People] was formed to stand up to multinationals and the dictatorship that acted hand-in-hand. This is a significant moment, because it says you can’t act with impunity.”
Chevron in the White House December 3, 2008Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Barack Obama, Iraq and Afghanistan, Political Commentary.
Tags: amy goodman, Barack Obama, boeing, bowoto, chevron, Condoleezza Rice, denis moynihan, environment, exxonmobil, james jones, national security, NATO, niger delta, nigeria, Robert Gates, roger hollander, white house
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Posted on Dec 2, 2008, www.truthdig.com
By Amy Goodman
President-elect Barack Obama introduced his principal national-security Cabinet selections to the world Monday and left no doubt that he intends to start his administration on a war footing. Perhaps the least well known among them is retired Marine Gen. James Jones, Obama’s pick for national security adviser. The position is crucial—think of the power that Henry Kissinger wielded in Richard Nixon’s White House. A look into who James Jones is sheds a little light on the Obama campaign’s promise of “Change We Can Believe In.”
Jones is the former supreme allied commander of NATO. He is president and chief executive of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy. The institute has been criticized by environmental groups for, among other things, calling for the immediate expansion of domestic oil and gas production and issuing reports that challenged the use of the Clean Air Act to combat global warming.
Recently retired from the military, Jones has parlayed his 40-year military career into several corporate directorships. Among them is Cross Match Technologies, which makes biometric identification equipment. More germane to Jones’ forthcoming role in Obama’s inner circle, though, might be Jones’ seat as a director of Boeing, a weapons manufacturer, and as a director of Chevron, an oil giant.
Chevron has already sent one of its directors to the White House: Condoleezza Rice. As a member of that California-based oil giant’s board, she actually had a Chevron oil tanker named after her, the Condoleezza Rice. The tanker’s name was changed, after some embarrassment, when Rice joined the Bush administration as national security adviser. So now Chevron has a new person at the highest level of the executive branch. With Robert Gates also keeping his job as secretary of defense, maybe Obama should change his slogan to “Continuity We Can Believe In.”
But what of a Chevron director high up in the West Wing? Obama’s attacks on John McCain during the campaign included a daily refrain about the massive profits of ExxonMobil, as if that was the only oil company out there. Chevron, too, has posted mammoth profits. Chevron was also a defendant in a federal court case in San Francisco related to the murder, 10 years ago, of two unarmed, peaceful activists in the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria. On May 28, 1998, three Chevron helicopters ferried Nigerian military and police to the remote section of the Delta known as Ilajeland, where protesters had occupied a Chevron offshore drilling platform to protest Chevron’s role in the destruction of the local environment. The troops opened fired on the protesters. Two were killed, others were injured. (Rice was in charge of the Chevron board’s public policy committee when it fought off shareholder resolutions demanding that Chevron improve its human rights and environmental record in Nigeria.)
One of those shot was Larry Bowoto, who, along with the family members of those killed, filed suit in California against Chevron for its role in the attack. Just after Jones was named Obama’s national security adviser Monday, a jury acquitted Chevron. Bowoto told me: “I was disappointed in the judgment by the jury. I believe personally the struggle continues. I believe the attorney representing us will not stay put. He will take the initiative in going to the court of appeals.” I met Bowoto in 1998, just months after he was shot. He showed me his bullet wounds when I interviewed him in the Niger Delta. I also met Omoyele Sowore, who has since come to the U.S. and started the news Web site SaharaReporters.com.
Sowore has followed the case closely. Though disappointed, he said: “We have achieved one major victory: Chevron’s underbelly was exposed in this town. … Also there is Nigeria: Protesters won’t give up. … This will not discourage anybody who wants to make sure Chevron gives up violence as a way of doing business. American citizens are increasingly protective of their economy. … Chevron played into fears of … the jurors, saying these are people [the Nigerian protesters] who made oil prices go through the roof. This was a pyrrhic victory for Chevron. If I was in their shoes, I wouldn’t be popping champagne.”
Nigerians know well the power of the military-industrial complex in their own country. While Obama was swept into office promising change, his choice of Marine Gen. James Jones as national security adviser probably has U.S. corporate titans breathing easy, leaving the poor of the Niger Delta with the acrid air and oil-slicked water that lie behind Chevron’s profits.
Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.
Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 700 stations in North America. She has been awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the “Alternative Nobel” prize, and will receive the award in the Swedish Parliament in December.