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Date: Sun, 09 Mar 1997 14:23:51 +0000
From: nick jukes
Subject: DELTA Update Jan/Feb 1997

To all on the RA! list...if you want to be sent Delta stuff, please e-mail . Here is a copy of the last update......


News & Background on Ogoni, Shell and Nigeria

Shell is using armed escort to check equipment with a view to resuming full oil production in Ogoni, against the people's wishes and their own guarantees not to work behind a military shield. Meanwhile, intimidation, rape, arrests, torture, shooting and looting by Shell-backed Nigerian soldiers continues.

A hard-hitting report, 'Ogoni: the struggle continues', has just been published by the World Council of Churches, detailing Shell's devastation in the Niger Delta and its support of the massacres of 2000 Ogonis.

The company, which has supplied money, weapons, helicopters and boats to attack the Ogonis still effectively refuse to recognise or talk to MOSOP, and refuse to condemn the imprisonment and 'trial' of the Ogoni 19. Two of the 19 were actually arrested and tortured by Shell Police, and all are effectively hostages of the military government which relies on Shell for half of its total income. The prisoners lost their recent appeal and are still held in appalling conditions for demanding environmental and human rights - or just being Ogoni.

Shell has been influencing journalists to keep the dirt out of the press by taking them on 'Shell trips': unfortunately many seem to like the saccharin taste of greenwash. However, the company has had to drop its complaint about Channel 4's documentary 'The Drilling Fields', which accused it of being in alliance with the brutal Nigerian military government, and after denying it for several years has now admitted paying the military in Nigeria.

Shell is being sued by the families of Ken Saro-Wiwa and another of the Ogonis killed in November 1995 over the company's "knowledge, consent and/or support" of the executions, and their part in a conspiracy "to violently and ruthlessly suppress any opposition to [Shell's] Ogoni and the Niger Delta."

Over thirty pickets of Shell garages happened in Britain around the first anniversary of Ken's execution, including a 29-hour lock-on to a Shell tanker in Newcastle where protesters now face Aggravated Trespass charges. Most of Slovakia's Shell garages were hit and other actions and rallies of up to 400 people happened around the world. In Ogoni thousands of troops flooded the area, and there were random arrests, torture and killing.

On Ogoni Day, January 4 this year, 80,000 people came out on to the streets; the army raided 19 communities, detained and tortured over 20 people, and opened fire into peaceful crowds, wounding four. In his speech, Acting President of MOSOP Ledum Mitee called on activists to step up the pressure on Shell. The growing militarisation of commerce needs to be challenged harder, and winning the Ogoni issue is key for all activists fighting for environmental rights in the face of multinational power. Within Nigeria the pro-democracy movement is growing despite the nationwide repression and a still-born 'transition to democracy', and exiles are organising alongside for a strong alternative to the current regime. Links with minorities in the Niger Delta are getting stronger and the powerful oil workers' unions note that Shell "could easily become the target of very serious political action" in the future.

For more news and background on Ogoni, Shell and Nigeria, send a donation or details of your local anti-Shell work to DELTA. The DELTA magazine has been distributed to all relevant direct action and other support groups around the world and a number distributed throughout the Niger Delta and Ogoni itself. DELTA #2 has just been published; the next issue in March will look at radical environmentalism and social change. Other topics will be featured according to request: what information resources do you need?

Contact DELTA if you are interested in a national Ogoni / Shell strategy meeting to be held in Britain in February or March.

DELTA: News and background on Ogoni, Shell and Nigeria
Box Z, 13 Biddulph Street, Leicester LE2 1BH, UK
tel/fax: 0116 255 3223

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