It was twenty years ago today ...
Posted by Oisín Coghlan on November 10, 2015 at 09:49 AM
On the 10th November 1995, Ken Saro Wiwa and 8 other Ogoni leaders were executed by the Nigerian military. They had been campaigning to remove Shell and other oil multinationals from Ogoni land in the Niger Delta, after decades of oil operations and countless spills and accidents.
After years of lawsuits, Shell finally settled with some Ogoni activists and relatives of the executed activists in 2009, agreeing to pay more than US$15 million in compensation, without admitting liability. But Shell has systematically failed to properly clean up its mess in Nigeria, whilst the people of Ogoniland and the wider Niger Delta are forced to live with the devastating effects of oil pollution. And Shell’s destructive influence knows no bounds of course - from offshore drilling in the Arctic to onshore refining in Mayo, it undermines action on climate change and cripples communities.
When Nigerian activist and Chair of Friends of the Earth International, Nnimmo Bassey, came to Ireland in 2012 he visited the memorial to the Ogoni 9 positioned defiantly across the road from the main entrance to Shell's Corrib gas refinery in Ballinaboy (See photo above). Speaking earlier to anti-fracking campaigners in Leitrim he said that when multinational energy companies come to extract fossil fuels they don't just fracture your land they fracture your communities. But we also know that from Ogoni land to Erris, people put their lives and livelihoods on the line to oppose the reckless pursuit of dangerous fossil fuels. Read Nnimmo on Ken Saro Wiwa here.
Here a few things you can do today to honour Ken Saro Wiwa today and support the ongoing struggle for a fossil free future:
Vote for Shell in the Pinocchio Climate Awards , organized by Friends of the Earth Europe, which this year target multinational companies whose activities have a direct impact on the climate and communities around the world, and whose influence, through lobbying, promoting false solutions or greenwashing weakens or destroys climate policies, or undermines action on climate change.
Come to the Vigil for the Ogoni 9 outside the Shell HQ in Dublin this evening, organized by Afri and supported by Friends of the Earth. It's at 6pm at 52 Lower Leeson Street, on the corner with Adelaide Road. We'll have a Friends of the Earth banner there.
At the briefing for TDs on fracking last Thursday I said Friends of the Earth no longer has confidence in the EPA fracking research to provide an independent basis for a policy decision on fracking and that we supported the call to #StopTheStudy. Research that should have been about whether Ireland allows fracking looks more and more like research on how to do fracking in Ireland. Listen to my speech. Watch a short highlights video of the Stop The Study rally and the briefing here. Reada summary of the day here.
Inspired by the life of Ken Saro Wiwa, Friends of the Earth will continue to campaign around the world for a fossil free future powered by community energy.
Together we will win.
Oisin, Kate, Heather, Ciara, Nicola
Your Friends of the Earth team
P.S. A collection of letters from Ken Saro Wiwa was donated to Maynooth University by wonderful solidarity activist Sr Majella McCarron. You can read about the resulting book and access the letters online from here.
I repeat that we all stand before history. I and my colleagues are not the only ones on trial. Shell is on trial here, and it is as well that it is represented by counsel said to be holding a watching brief. The company has, indeed, ducked this particular trial, but its day will surely come and the lessons learned here may prove useful to it, for there is no doubt in my mind that the ecological war the company has waged in the delta will be called to question sooner than later and the crimes of that war be duly punished. The crime of the company’s dirty wars against the Ogoni people will also be punished. –Ken Saro-Wiwa before the Ogoni Civil Disturbances Trial in 1995