Business Wire: Ten Years After Saro-Wiwa Execution, New Evidence of Human Rights Violations in Oil-Rich Niger Delta, Says Amnesty International: Thursday November 03, 2005
Ten years after the execution of human rights advocate Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight fellow activists, a new Amnesty International (AI) report reveals that the people of Nigeria's oil-producing Niger Delta continue to face death and devastation at the hands of security forces. In particular, members of poverty-stricken communities who protest the actions of Chevron, Shell or their subcontractors, or are suspected of obstructing oil production, risk collective punishment by forces charged with protecting major oil installations, according to Amnesty International.
"A decade after executions that horrified the world, the exploitation of oil in the Niger Delta continues to result in deprivation, injustice and violence," said Dr. William F. Schulz, executive director for Amnesty International USA (AIUSA). "Security forces are allowed to kill and raze communities with impunity, and civilians who escape such injustices often suffer the pollution that saps their health and renders their economic livelihood impossible. That Nigeria's federal government continues to turn a blind eye to its own people is unconscionable."
The report, "Ten Years On: injustice and violence haunt the oil Delta," focuses on human rights violations committed this year at the Escravos oil terminal and in the community of Odioma, both on the Niger Delta coast:
-- On Feb. 4, soldiers from Nigeria's Joint Task Force fired on protesters from Ugborodo at Chevron Nigeria's Escravos oil terminal. One man was shot and later died from his injuries while 30 other demonstrators were injured, some of them seriously by blows from rifle butts and other weapons. It took several hours to transport the injured by boat to a hospital. Neither the government nor Chevron Nigeria provided adequate medical care or assistance to transport the injured; no thorough, independent inquiry has been carried out into the incident.
-- On Feb. 19, at least 17 people were killed and two women reportedly were raped when Joint Task Force soldiers raided the Ijaw community of Odioma. The raid ostensibly was to arrest members of an armed vigilante group, but the suspects were not captured and about 80 percent of homes in the area were destroyed. The previous month, Shell Nigeria had withdrawn plans for oil exploration in the area, reportedly after youths from Odioma demanded a halt to operations and the company became aware that ownership of the land was disputed. An inquiry into the raid has not been made public, no one has been charged and Odioma is now almost deserted.
"Chevron must commission an independent, impartial investigation into the company's role during the incidents at Escravos terminal," said Mila Rosenthal, director of AIUSA's business and human rights program. "The company promised to ensure respect for human rights in its worldwide operations, but its actions in Nigeria tell a different story."
AI also demands that Shell investigate allegations of a security arrangement between a Shell Nigeria subcontractor and a criminal group in Odioma, and calls on the Nigerian federal government to conduct thorough and independent inquiries into allegations that security forces killed, injured and raped civilians and destroyed their property. The findings should be made public and those responsible for human rights violations brought justice.
"It is like paradise and hell. They have everything. We have nothing... If we protest, they send soldiers," said Eghare W.O. Ojhogar, chief of the Ugborodo community.
"I was told to kneel down on the beach with some of the chiefs and their hands were tied behind their backs. Then the soldiers started beating them with horsewhips, and told us to eat sand," said Cadbury George Omieh, Igno XXI, Amanyanabo (King) of Odioma.Amnesty International Wende Gozan, 212-633-4247 or Mila Rosenthal, 212-633-4196
Click here to return to ShellNews.net HOME PAGE