Was Shell Oil Complicit in the Execution of a Nigerian Activist?
A landmark human rights lawsuit, accusing Royal Dutch Shell of complicity in the execution of author and human rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa some 14 years ago, will proceed to trial in a New York courtroom.
The Center for Constitutional Rights (which created this video about the case) and Earth Rights International, along with Mr. Wiwa’s son, allege the International oil company “financed, armed, and otherwise colluded with the Nigerian military forces that used deadly force and conducted massive, brutal raids against the Ogoni people of the Niger Delta.”
They claim Shell was complicit in the 1995 military executions of nine activist leaders, including Ken Saro-Wiwa.
“Shell began oil production in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria in 1958,” the groups say on a new Web site dedicated to promoting the suit. “After more than 30 years of environmental devastation and exploitation by Shell, a popular nonviolent movement of the Ogoni people developed in the early 1990s in opposition to its presence in the region.
At the request of Shell, and with Shell’s assistance and financing, Nigerian soldiers used deadly force and massive, brutal raids against the Ogoni people throughout the early 1990s to repress the growing movement against the oil company.”
“Ken Saro-Wiwa, with eight other Ogoni rights activists, was executed by Nigeria’s military dictatorship in 1995,” reported the Guardian. “The men were a constant irritant to the generals, reminding the world that their lands in the Niger Delta were being wrecked and their health and livelihoods destroyed by gas flaring, oil spills and military attacks. Imprisonment and beatings failed to shut them up. So the government constructed false charges against these men, paid people to pose as witnesses and hanged them.”
“The suit says the company tried to bribe two men to testify against Saro-Wiwa at his trial before a special tribunal,” reported the Financial Times.
This is not the first time an oil company has been accused of such activity, Chevron was sued in the shooting of Nigerian villagers by military forces, who reportedly used Chevron helicopters, during a protest at an offshore oil platform.
In 1998, the victims lost that case against Chevron, which they filed using a 1789 law allowing foreigners to sue in the United States.