The Hague, November 8, 2019.
At noon dozens of people gathered in front of Shell’s head office in The Hague. Carrying nine coffins and dressed in black they payed tribute to nine human rights and environmental activists who were executed in 1995 in Nigeria. At the time the activists were engaged in a fierce struggle against Shell’s oil extraction in Ogoni. Earlier this year widows of the executed activists filed a civil lawsuit against Shell for complicity. Witnesses have claimed they accepted bribes from Shell Nigeria to make false statements.
“As long as there is no justice for those left behind, we wish to keep the memory to the ‘Ogoni Nine’ alive. Because of Shell the Ogoni have lost their land and their safety. Shell cannot get away with this!” says Hanneke van Houten, spokesperson for Code Rood, one of the organizing activist groups.
In 1995 nine activists were charged with the murder of four Ogoni leaders and were subsequently sentenced to death. The trial leading to their conviction was widely regarded as a show trial. Important witnesses later withdrew their testimonies. Ken Saro-Wiwa, the most well-known of the executed activists, stated during his trial: “Shell has waged an ecological war in Ogoni since 1958. An ecological war is highly lethal, the more so as it is unconventional. It is omnicidal in its effect. Human life, flora, fauna, the air, fall at its feet, and finally, the land itself dies. This is violence at its height although society is not aware of its methods and effects. Generally, it is supported by all the traditional instruments ancillary to warfare – propaganda, money and deceit. Victory is assessed by profits, and in this sense, Shell’s victory in Ogoni has been total.”
According to Taiwo Feyisipo of the Africa Roots Movement the fight in Ogoni is not over: “Despite having agreed to a settlement to Ken Saro-Wiwa’s family for 15,5 million dollars, Shell has never truly acknowledged its responsibility. Also, Shell is failing miserably when it comes to cleaning up their many oil spills in Ogoni. Shell employees, the board of directors and Shell shareholders, all of them are making profits while local people live in deep poverty, and they are doing everything to keep up appearances. We are here today to show Shell’s true colors.”
There were a number of speakers during the commemoration at Shells head office. In a chant people were calling for Shells dismantlement: “Ogoni people not forgotten, Shell Must Fall!”
Note for the editor:
Spokesperson Code Rood
Hanneke van Houten
Phone: +31 (0)6 16248201
More information about the Ogoni Nine: