EXECUTION OF KEN SARO WIWA
At 11:30 am on 10 November, 1995, Ken Saro Wiwa was executed. This act
of murder on the part of the Nigerian dictatorship must never be
Earthlife Africa (Cape Town) release a press
release on the issue, and calls for a continuation of the struggle
in support of MOSOP, and the Nigerian people.
Whilst we grieve about the death of this great hero, and 8 other
Ogoni, we cannot be paralysed by our sorrow. Urgent international
pressure in needed on Abacha, to stop the continuing 'slow genocide'
perpetrated against the Ogoni people. Anglo-Dutch Shell's role in the
'slow genocide' cannot be ignored - it is Shell money which fills
A comprehensive international alliance and boycott against Shell is
needed to show multinationals that their profits cannot be built on
the blood of innocents. BOYCOTT SHELL TODAY
The Ken Saro Wiwa Campaign
Ken Saro Wiwa was a Nigerian author, and the leader of a minority
ethnic group in Nigeria called the Ogoni. He has recently been
executed on trumped up charges for his actions in leading
the protest against the exploitation of Ogoni lands and Ogoni people.
The Ogoni people of Nigeria have their lands in Rivers state, a part
of Nigeria near the delta of the river Niger. This has historically
been a fertile area, and consequently is highly populated. It is also
the first place in Nigeria that the Anglo/Dutch transnational Shell
started extracting oil from, in 1958. At that time, Nigeria was still
a British colony.
Ogoniland has been important to Nigeria for two reasons: Firstly, it
it has been termed the 'breadbasket' of Rivers State, a major food
producing area, and secondly, since 1958 it has been the source of
more than 900-million barrels of crude oil, vital to the Nigerian
Although international attention is now being focussed on democracy in
Nigeria, and pressure is being placed on the Nigerian dictatorship of
Gen. Sani Abacha to democratize the country, little is said of the
role of the Western transnational corporations which prop up the
Shell has been exploiting the oil in Nigeria without consulting or
compensating the Ogoni people in any way. The Ogoni people are a
minority, and thus have little political power, since the Nigerian
constitution doesn't protect minority interests. They have no mineral
rights to their land, since all mineral rights are owned by the state.
They are merely the victims when oil spills, blowouts, and invasive
pipe laying cause environmental damage. Shell has not been effective
in cleaning up oil spills, and as a consequence, Ogoniland has lost
In 1990, the Ogoni started to mobilise against the human and
environmental injustice perpetrated upon them. They formed MOSOP, the
Movement for Survival of Ogoni People, a peaceful resistance movement
which attempted to highlight their plight, under the leadership of Ken
The response to MOSOP's protests has been brutal. Ogoniland is now
sealed off, and under martial law. Ken Saro-Wiwa has been executed,
along with 8 other Ogoni. Hundreds of Ogoni have been murdered.
Shell's role in this is significant - the most significant brutalities
against the Ogoni have happened after Shell has expressed concern
about perceived threats to the Nigerian government. A memo signed by
Major Okuntimo of the Rivers State Internal Security Task Force, dated
May 12th 1994, states: "Shell operations still impossible unless
ruthless military operations are undertaken for smooth economic
activities to commence." The document goes on to recommend the
"wasting" of Ogoni leaders. Ken Saro Wiwa was arrested on May the
22nd, 10 days later.
The blatant disregard for human rights that Shell Nigeria has
displayed in its dealings with the Ogoni show it to be two sided in
its international relations. The abuses that are perpetrated in
Nigeria (directly in the form of spills and blowouts, and indirectly
by the Nigerian government to protect Shell's interests) would be
unnacceptable in the countries where Shell sells most of its oil.
Whilst Shell International claims that its actions and those of Shell
Nigeria are not linked, this is a transparent ploy to deny
culpability. Shell profits are built upon Ogoni suffering.
Ken's Trial and Execution
Ken Saro-Wiwa was held, without legal recourse, and without medical
attention, for many months. He was also tortured. The charges against
him (the supposed murder of 4 Ogoni activists) were so ridiculous that
Amnesty International declared him a prisoner of conscience. His trial
was been a total farce, run under the auspices of Civil Disturbances Special
Tribunal (CDST), which is only answerable to Military Government.
Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni leaders were sentenced to death on
the 31st of October 1995. Despite calls international calls for
clemency, Ken and his eight co-trialists were executed on the 10th of
November, 1995. We mourn their passing, and salute their spirit.
We call on all people who love freedom and justice to:
Shell must know that it can't make profit out of the blood of the
Ken Saro Wiwa and the Ogoni. Abacha must know that tyranny is
universally unacceptable. The only way that this will happen is broad,
strong action by all the people of the world.
- Lobby your leaders to intervene on the behalf of MOSOP and the
Nigerian people. Strong international action is necessary, not just
- Boycott all Shell products and inform Shell of your boycott.
Remember, the joint venture operated by Shell in Nigeria is
responsible for 70% of the Nigerian state's revenue - Shell is funding
murder in Nigeria.
- Educate yourself about Ogoniland, the Ogoni struggle, and
Nigeria. Our Factsheet on the Ogoni struggle is a good place to start.
Another good resource is the September/October 1995 issue of Africa
Today magazine, or the videos 'The Drilling Fields' and 'The Delta
Force' (details for 'The Drilling Fields' are below).
(Look here to see the Earthlife Africa 1995 Congress resolution on the Ogoni's struggle.)
Earthlife Africa Fact Sheet on the Ogoni Struggle
Look here to see the Earthlife Africa
(Cape Town) factsheet on the Ogoni Struggle. (To be updated soon)
Shell: Dirty in Nigeria, Dirty in the North Sea
While Shell continues to evade responsibility for its role in the war
against the Ogoni, it has compounding its environmental abuses by attempting
to dump the North Sea oil rig, the Brent Spar, in the North Sea, despite
the fact that the Brent Spar contains a large amount of toxic and radioactive
waste. For the details, have a look at Greenpeace's Brent Spar page.
Greenpeace won the first round of the Brent Spar fight, simply because
consumers (most notably German consumers) launched a large and effective
boycott of Shell.
Other resources on the Ken Saro Wiwa campaign
Resources related to Nigeria and human rights
- The Amnesty International Kenya/Nigeria page highlights human
rights abuses in these two African giants.
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