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Nigeria: Shell Protests, 1
Nigeria: Shell Protests, 1
Date distributed (ymd): 970515
Document reposted by APIC
On May 14, date of the annual shareholder meeting of Shell Oil in London,
protests against the company for human rights and environmental abuses
took place outside the meeting and around the world. A resolution sponsored
by the Pensions and Investment Research Consultants and the Ecumenical
Council for Corporate Responsibility won 41 million of the total 357 million
shares (more than 10%). Demonstrations took place in a number of cities
in the U.S., Canada and elsewhere.
This posting includes excerpts from press releases from several groups
involved in the protests. The next posting contains a special issue on
Shell of Rachel's Environment & Health Weekly.
Other web sites with information on Shell, Nigeria and ongoing protests
(1) the Free Nigeria Movement
(http://www.freenigeria.org - page no longer available 01/00 )
(2) Project Underground
(3) The Body Shop
Shell's defense of its involvement is at: http://www.shellnigeria.com/
For more general background information on Nigeria, see the Africa Policy
web site (http://www.africapolicy.org).
Use the search function to identify documents from 1995 to the present.
For an overview, including pointers to other sources, consult the Nigeria:
Country Profile at http://www.africapolicy.org/bp/niger.html
Nigeria: Country Profile is also available in print, attractively
printed in two colors in an 8- page 8 1/2" x 11" format, at $2
each, $1.60 each for 20 or more. Add 15% for postage and handling. Send
your order with check or money order to APIC at the address below. It is
an ideal source for continued public education on the issue.
RAINFOREST ACTION NETWORK * PROJECT UNDERGROUND *
May 13, 1997
Press Contact: Mark Westlund - firstname.lastname@example.org
or Project Underground, 1847 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, CA 94703;
phone: 510-705-8981; fax: 510-705-8983; e-mail: email@example.com.
SHELL OIL UNDER RENEWED ATTACK AT LONDON ANNUAL GENERAL
(excerpts from press release)
HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS RELEASE INDEPENDENT ANNUAL REPORT
LONDON - The Royal Dutch/Shell Group, the world's largest international
oil company, came under attack today from environmental and human rights
activists for its activities in Peru and Nigeria, at the same time as the
company prepares to fend off a shareholder resolution critical of its policies
at its annual meeting tomorrow. In the United States, there will be demonstrations
in at least eight cities demanding that Shell improve its human rights
Coinciding with Shell's annual general meeting and the release of the
company's first worldwide environmental report, Rainforest Action Network
and Project Underground, released their own independent annual report that
reveals Shell's destructive environmental practices in Peru and Nigeria.
The report, with a blood-spattered Shell logo on the cover, criticizes
the company's approach to gas development in Peru, and accuses Shell of
making only cosmetic changes to its operations in Nigeria. Two representatives
from Peru and Nigeria, Ledum Mites, president of the Movement for the Survival
of the Ogoni People and Wrays Perez, secretary of AIDESEP, Peru's largest
indigenous federation, will also attend the meeting.
Since 1958, Shell has extracted billions worth of oil and natural gas
from the Niger River delta area of Nigeria, home to the Ogoni people. As
a result, the Ogoni's traditional fishing and farming life has been devastated
by oil pollution, and, according to the Wall Street Journal, the land has
become a "ravaged environment." The United Nations Conference
on Environment and Development has declared the Niger's mouth as the most
endangered river delta in the world - a direct result of nearly four decades
of oil exploitation.
Desiring profits from Shell and other major oil companies, the Nigerian
government has been silencing the voices of protest in Ogoniland, to the
point of executing human rights activist, poet, and 1995 Goldman Environmental
Prize Winner, Ken Saro-Wiwa, and eight fellow activists. The report reveals
new information about the destruction of the delta environment.
SIERRA CLUB CRITICIZES SHELL'S IRRESPONSIBILITY IN NIGERIA
Group Stages Protest Outside Company Headquarters
May 14, 1997
CONTACT: Stephen Mills, Human Rights and Environment Campaign Director,
Sierra Club, 408 C St., NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; tel: 202- 675-6691;
Washington, D.C. -- Amid demonstrators chanting, "No Blood for
Oil", outside Shell Oil's Washington, D.C. lobbying headquarters,
members of the Sierra Club pledged today that the nation's oldest and largest
grassroots environmental organization will continue its boycott of Shell
Oil until the company's rhetoric matches its actions.
"Since the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa, Shell has spent millions
on public relations and advertising to respond to the public outcry for
environmental justice in Ogoni," said Stephen Mills, Director of the
Sierra Club's Human Rights and the Environment Campaign. "But they
have yet to admit responsibility for their actions, to pay adequate compensation
to villagers whose farms were destroyed, or to clean up their environmental
mess in Ogoni. Our boycott campaign will continue until Shell's deeds match
"If anything, the situation in Nigeria has worsened," said
Mills. "The Ogoni region is now a military zone and MOSOP has been
forced underground." MOSOP stands for the Movement for the Survival
of Ogoni People, the environmental and human rights organization led by
writer Ken Saro-Wiwa before he was hanged in November of 1995. "Teachers
are arrested if they mention Ken Saro-Wiwa in the classroom, preachers
are arrested if they mention Ken in church," said Mills.
"We have new reports that local security forces in Nigeria's main
oil-producing region has forced people, often at gunpoint, to sign statements
inviting Shell to return to Ogoniland," said Mills. "The fact
is, Shell cannot return to Ogoni until they negotiate with MOSOP, and that
will be impossible as long as MOSOP members are forbidden to assemble."
At its annual general meeting today in London Shell will be under pressure
from church pension funds and Pirc, the U.K. investment advisory service
which holds 12 percent of Shell's stock, to clarify its commitment to environmental
protection and human rights. Among the key points in the Pirc shareholder
resolution: make someone on the committee of managing directors personally
responsible for seeing that Shell honors its commitments to the environment
and human rights; establish an effective auditing process to guarantee
that words and actions match; and publish a progress report to shareholders,
specifically in relation to Shell's operations in Nigeria, by the end of
Shell's Board of Directors advice to shareholders to reject Pirc's resolution
has only given environmental and human rights organizations more reason
to doubt the company's recently issued business principles that call for
a respect for human rights.
"Shell has made a great effort in recent weeks to praise its contributions
to hospitals in Nigeria. What they won't tell you is that the Ogoni won't
go near the hospitals because of their profound fear of the company,"
Mills added. "This is nothing more than an attempt to disguise the
fact that Shell has yet to adequately address the Ogoni environmental demands
that started this whole campaign."
Shell first found oil in Nigeria's Ogoniland in 1958. Since that time
the company has extracted some $35 billion in oil from the lands of the
Ogoni people. While royalties from these sales fill the coffers of the
Nigerian military dictatorship, the rich farmland and rivers of Ogoniland
have been poisoned by oil spills and the venting of toxic gases. Meanwhile
most Ogoni today still lack running water , electricity, adequate schools
or health care.
"Nineteen Ogoni men are now awaiting trial for the same murders
for which Ken Saro-Wiwa was wrongly tried and hanged," said Mills,
"some are suffering in detention from blindness, disease and torture.
We are demanding that Shell use their considerable influence to see that
the Ogoni 19 are released."
Environmental and human rights advocates believe Ken Saro-Wiwa was killed
because of the international campaign he led against the pollution in his
homeland caused by Shell, one of the largest revenue producers for the
military junta that rules Nigeria. The Nigerian military government, an
international pariah, has refused to release the body of Saro-Wiwa and
eight others it executed, to the families. The regime maintains a strong
presence in Ogoniland, beating and jailing any Ogoni who dares speak Saro-Wiwa's
name or attempts to organize others to protect the environment.
The Nigeria Country Report on Human Rights, released in January by the
U.S. Department of State, noted that "General Abacha's Government
relied regularly on arbitrary detention and harassment to silence its many
critics." That report is available on the internet at
At the protest the group distributed specially designed postcards for
citizens to sign and send to Shell and President Clinton.
Also available today for comment: Dr. Owens Wiwa, brother of Ken Saro-Wiwa,
For more information, please visit the Sierra Club website, http://www.sierraclub.org/human-rights
This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa
Policy Information Center (APIC), the educational affiliate of the Washington
Office on Africa. APIC's primary objective is to widen the policy debate
in the United States around African issues and the U.S. role in Africa,
by concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant information and
analysis usable by a wide range of groups and individuals.