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Shell and Ken Saro-Wiwa/UN Human Rights Comm.

  Bombay, India
  e-mail: smruti@ilbom.ernet.in
  Hello everybody,
  This is a unique appeal on the Nigerian situation and we hope all 
  of you will participate. 
  November 10th was the second anniversary of execution of Ken Saro- 
  Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists in Nigeria. As we know, this 
  is not the first or the only violation of human rights and 
  environmental justice by the General Abacha regime. While much of 
  this has been recorded at international fora, it's been difficult 
  to do anything -- primarily because the regime has the support of 
  Shell Oil company and couldn't care less what the rest of the 
  world thinks. 
  There may just be a ray of hope now. The United Nations Commission 
  of Human Rights (UNCHR) finally appointed its special envoy on 
  human rights to Nigeria last month. He is Mr. Soli J. Sorabjee, 
  among the most well-known lawyers in India and former attorney- 
  general to the Government of India. Some of us thought it best to 
  use this foot in the door to prise open the door itself. To this 
  end, we have drafted a letter and Memorandum for Action to be given 
  to Mr. Sorabjee urging him to include the Ogoni and similar other 
  struggles, violations of their rights, present condition as part of 
  his agenda in Nigeria. His report will, no doubt, be important.
  The idea is to collect as many signatures on the Memorandum as 
  possible; the groups here aim at at least 1000 by Dec 10, 1997 when 
  it will be handed over to him. It will help to have signatures from 
  a wide cross-section of individuals and groups across the world, 
  the more the better. It will help to keep pressure on him to do the 
  right thing in Nigeria; he knows that people around the world are 
  watching him.
  Please read the letter and Memorandum attached here, 
  sign it and send it by e-mail or snail mail to the addresses given 
  at the end. Also, feel free to circulate this among your 
  groups/friends/colleagues to get as much support as you can. To 
  e-mail, type your name, address, phone/fax and e-mail 
  identification at the very end of the message and mail to the 
  address given. For groups/organisations, it's necessary to put 
  names of at least two office-bearers along with the name of your 
  Thanks and Cheers
  Smruti Koppikar
    ------------------ Forwarded Message ----------------
  Mr Soli J. Sorabjee
  Special Envoy to Nigeria,
  United Nations Commission on Human Rights, 
  Delhi, India
  Dear Mr. Sorabjee,
  We congratulate you on your recent appointment as Special Envoy (human 
  rights) to Nigeria by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights 
  (UNHCR). It is indeed a cause for hope for the people of Nigeria 
  and for those of us fighting for human rights in that country.
  Two years ago this day, Ken Saro-Wiwa, a Nigerian tribal 
  activist from the oil-rich Ogoniland, was executed along with eight 
  other Ogonis by the Nigerian military regime. His crime: 
  spearheading a peaceful people's movement against the environmental 
  and human rights devastation unleashed by Shell and other oil 
  companies on the Ogonis and their land.
  On this occasion, we wish to draw your attention to the most shocking 
  violations of human rights and civil liberties in Nigeria under the 
  General Abacha regime. Hundreds of thousands of Nigerians, most 
  particularly the minority groups and tribes, have been physically 
  and mentally abused by the regime acting in collusion with Shell, 
  the world's largest oil multinational. The economic exploitation 
  and the ecological destruction of their homelands is well- 
  documented and undeniable. The poorest of poor Nigerians have been 
  denied a share in the economic wealth resulting from oil extraction 
  in their homeland. Worse, they have had to consistently face false
  charges, beatings, incarceration, even executions for demanding their 
  rights. The Ogonis were executed for articulating  the rights of 
  their people and other minority communities.
  Let his death not be in vain. The story of the Ogonis and other tribes in 
  Nigeria need to be highlighted at the appropriate forum. Towards 
  this end, we have attached a "Memorandum for Action" which is 
  supported by several human rights groups, environmentalists, 
  indigenous peoples support groups, writers, academics around the 
  world.  We hope you will take a deep interest in this issue. 
  We urge you to examine the repression and abuse of Ogonis and other tribes 
  as part of the human rights violations in Nigeria and to hold  
  accountable those responsible for perpetuating these abuses.
  Dated: November 10, 1997
                       MEMORANDUM FOR ACTION
            "When I organised the Ogoni people to protest peacefully against
  Shell's ecological war, the company invited the Nigerian military to 
  intervene. Lethal arms supplied by the British government were used 
  on unarmed Ogoni people while they were sleeping in their beds. 
  Thousands have been murdered, hundreds of thousands driven
  into the bush and tens of villages flattened."
           "Please do not allow the kangaroo military tribunal to 
  condemn me to death for a crime I know nothing about.  Make appeals 
  for clemency...Help save life and the environment of Niger Delta."
       That was Ken Saro-Wiwa speaking in "The Mail & Guardian" newspaper two
  months before he and eight of his compatriots were executed by the 
  Nigerian military regime on November 10, 1995. His pleas for  
  clemency and fair trial went unheeded. You cannot expect anything 
  else from a military regime that abused and repressed Nigerians for 
  decades. But key prosecution witnesses who had testified against 
  Saro-Wiwa at his trial later signed affidavits that they had been 
  bribed by Shell, the multinational oil giant, to testify against 
  the Ogoni leader. It wasn't just General Abacha with blood on his 
  hands; Shell had stains too.
       If the company's tacit involvement in the Ogoni 9 executions is
  shocking, the economic and ecological history of the Ogoni people is 
  even more so. Barely numbering 500,000, the Ogonis live in Rivers 
  State, one of the most oil-rich areas of Nigeria. Oil drives the 
  country's economy: 80 percent of Nigeria's total revenue and 90 
  percent of its foreign exchange earnings come from oil. Shell 
  controls nearly 60 percent of all oil reserves in the country. Not 
  surprisingly, the people who occupy the land were seen as obstacles 
  in the way of profit. 
       How else would one explain the abuses of all human rights including
  economic and ecological rights - perpetrated on the Ogonis? There 
  are 96 oil production wells in Ogoniland, five flow stations or 
  large pumping stations and numerous gas flares that have operated 
  continuously for 35 years. Also, there are many high-pressure oil 
  pipelines criss-crossing Ogoniland, many through fields and near 
  homes. As if this isn't bad enough, some 56-60 million gallons of 
  oil has been spilt on their farmlands and into community water 
  supplies. Shell admits to some 3000 polluted sites on the Ogonis' 
  land. The gas flaring has caused acid rain, flare particles have
  entered the land, water, homes and lungs of the Ogonis. They are among the 
  poorest of poor people today despite the fact that approximately 
  US$30 billion worth of oil has been extracted from the region in 
  the last 40 years.     
       When the Ogonis organised themselves to demand that Shell clean up the
  oil spills and share profits more equitably, the military regime 
  let loose a campaign of terror - nearly 1800 Ogonis were killed and 
  many more tortured. Even today 19 Ogoni activists, imprisoned since
  1995 on the same false charges as Saro-Wiwa, are subjected to physical and 
  mental torture without trial. None of this terror against citizens 
  and blatant human rights violations could have taken place without 
  the knowledge or connivance of Shell. Within weeks of the Ogoni 9 
  executions, Shell signed with the Abacha government to build a 
  liquified natural gas plant - the strongest signal ever that the 
  company supported the repressive regime.
       The World Council of Churches, which conducted a thorough study of the
  issue, found that oil production and gas flaring continues on 
  Ogoniland despite Shell's statements to the contrary. The Ogoni 
  story is only the tip of the iceberg. Other communities have 
  similar stories to tell - the Abriba, Andoni, Effik, Ijaw, Ikwerra, 
  Isoko, Kalabaru, Urhoro communities, all live on the oil-rich land 
  in Nigeria. They too have suffered at the hands of the military 
  regime; their rights too have been abused by a confluence of the 
  military and oil industry interests. But the Ogoni people's 
  campaign and Saro-Wiwa's courage to stand up for the rights of his 
  community is, without doubt, among the most poignant of all human 
  struggles in recent times. 
       There are those who laid down lives in Nigeria so that the repression
  may not go unheard; there are thousands others who continue to face 
  the worst form of abuse and torture. It is an issue that cannot be 
  contained within the boundaries of Nigeria any longer. The human 
  rights abuses and environmental devastation in Ogoni are being 
  challenged by every person who stands for equity, justice and 
  peace. We do not believe that the confluence of interests in 
  Nigeria will be kinder to Nigerians or will behave differently 
  towards the citizens who stand up for their rights on their own. 
  Only an international, independent and thorough inquiry into the 
  various kinds of abuses holds some hope for the fighting Nigerians.
            We urge you, as Special Envoy of the United Nations, to 
  examine all aspects of this most horrific violations of human 
  rights. Let the death of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his Ogoni compatriots 
  not be in vain.
  DATED: 10 November 1997
  DELHI, 110003 BY DECEMBER 10, 1997.
  Bombay, India
  e-mail: smruti@ilbom.ernet.in