30 May 2009
This short documentary reveals the lengths that oil company Shell was willing to go to stop a nonviolent movement for human rights and environmental justice in the Niger Delta5
Shell stands accused of complicity in the 1995 execution of environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. A trial against the company, scheduled to start in New York this past week, was postponed at the last minute.
The lawsuit against the Royal Dutch Shell Company alleges that Shell collaborated with the Nigerian authorities, under then military dictator Sani Abacha, to get Saro-Wiwa and eight other activists executed on trumped up charges -- in an effort to protect its oil interests in the Niger Delta. The activists were sentenced to death without the right to appeal and hanged in 1995.
While Shell extracts millions of dollars worth of oil from the Niger Delta on a daily basis and has been doing so since the late 1950's, the people of the Niger Delta live in abject poverty on land that has suffered the worst environmental degradation due to the operations of the company. Farmlands and fish stocks have been destroyed due to oil spills, deforestation and the illegal practice of gas flaring, which the company continues.
A number of human rights organizations and lawyers are bringing several cases against Shell. They've been engaged in this action since 1996. Shell has spent the last decade trying to get the cases thrown out of court.
Steven Kretzman, executive director of Oil Change International attended a Shell shareholder meeting in London last month. He says the trial against Shell was not a prominent issue at all inside the shareholder meeting. The most prominent issue discussed at the meeting was the remuneration packages of the board and company directors.