- Closing Statement to the Military Tribunal
- Greenpeace: Ken Saro-Wiwa executed
- Greenpeace: The Death of Ken Saro-Wiwa
Ken Saro-Wiwa was an outspoken critic of the Nigerian government and
of the Shell oil company.
He was executed along with eight fellow activists in Novemeber 1995.
CLOSING STATEMENT TO THE NIGERIAN MILITARY APPOINTED TRIBUNAL
- Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria -
We all stand before history. I am a man of peace, of ideas. Appalled
by the denigrating poverty of my people who live on a richly endowed
land, distressed by their political marginilization and economic strangulation,
angered by the devestation of their land, their ultimate heritage,
anxious to preserve their right to life and to a decent living, and
determined to usher to this country as a whole a fair and just democratic
system which protects everyone and every ethnic group and gives us
all a valid claim to human civilization, I have devoted my intellectual
and material resources, my very life, to a cause in which I have total
belief and from which I cannot be blackmailed or intimidated. I have
no doubt at all about the ultimate success of my cause, no matter
the trials and tribulations which I and those who believe with me
may encounter on our journey. Nor imprisonment nor death can stop
our ultimate victory.
I repeat that we all stand before history. I and my colleagues are
not the only ones on trial.
Shell is here on trial and it is as well that it is represented by
counsel said to be holding a watching brief. The Company has, indeed,
ducked this particular trial, but its day will surely come and the
lessons learnt here may prove useful to it for there is no doubt in
my mind that the ecological war that the Company has waged in the
Delta will be called to question sooner than later and the crimes
of that war be duly punished. The crime of the Company's dirty wars
against the Ogoni people will also be punshed.
On trial also is the Nigerian nation, its present rulers and those
who assist them. Any nation which can do to the weak and disadvantaged
what the Nigerian nation has done to the Ogoni, loses a claim to independence
and to freedom from outside influence. I am not one of those who shy
away from proesting injustice and oppression, arguing that they are
expected in a military regime. The military do not act alone. They
are supported by a gaggle of politicians, lawyers, judges, academics
and businessmen, all of them hiding under the claim that they are
only doing their duty, men and women too afraid to wash their pants
of urine. We all stand on trial, my lord, for by our actions we have
denigrated our Country and jeapordized the future of our children.
As we subscribe to the sub-normal and accept double standards, as
we lie and cheat openly, as we protect injustice and oppression, we
empty our classrooms, denigrate our hospitals, fill our stomachs with
hunger and elect to make ourselves the slaves of those who ascribe
to higher standards, pursue the truth, and honour justice, freedom,
and hard work. I predict that the scene here will be played and replayed
by generations yet unborn. Some have already cast themselves in the
role of villains, some are tragic victims, some still have achance
to redeem themselves. The choice is for each individual.
I predict that the denoument of the riddle of the Niger delta will
soon come. The agenda is being set at this trial. Whether the peaceful
ways I have favoured will prevail depends on what the oppressor decides,
what signals it sends out to the waiting public. In my innocence of
the false charges I face Here, in my utter conviction, I call upon
the Ogoni people, the peoples of the Niger delta, and the oppressed
ethnic minorities of Nigeria to stand up now and fight fearlessly
and peacefully for their rights. History is on their side. God is
on their side. For the Holy Quran says in Sura 42, verse 41:"All
those that fight when oppressed incur no guilt, but Allah shall punish
the oppressor." Come the day.
KEN SARO WIWA AND 8 OGONI PEOPLE EXECUTED:
BLOOD ON SHELL'S HANDS
London--10 November 1995--
The blood of Ken Saro-Wiwa will permanently stain the name of Shell,
Greenpeace said today in response to the news that Ken Saro-Wiwa and
eight other Ogoni were, according to widespread rumours, hanged this
morning in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
"Ken Saro-Wiwa was hanged today for speaking out against the
environmental damage to the Niger Delta caused by Shell Oil through
its 37 years of drilling in the region. Ken Saro Wiwa was campaigning
for what Greenpeace considers the most basic of human rights: the
right for clean air, land and water. His only crime was his success
in bringing his cause to international attention," said Thilo
Bode, Executive Director of Greenpeace International.
Greenpeace warned that any protest in the Niger Delta today, non violent
or otherwise, would likely be met with military force and further
massacres. Bode appealed to General Sani Abacha to let the Ogoni people
voice their grief without fear of violence and further deaths.
Shell's call for "quiet diplomacy" in the 11th hour following
the confirmation of the death sentence by the Nigerian Ruling Council
has a hollow ring. Shell had ample opportunity to demonstrate concern
over the 17 months of Ken's incarceration and trial. They chose to
maintain their cosy relationship with the military dictatorship to
secure oil profits rather than condemn, the brutal and unjust arrest
and later sentencing of non-violent environmental campaigners.
"If Shell and the Nigerian military think that the hanging of
Saro-Wiwa has removed national and international outrage, they're
wrong. Greenpeace today reaffirms its dedication to continue the campaign
against environmental destruction by the oil industry," said
In his closing address to the tribunal, Saro-Wiwa stated "I repeat
that we all stand before history. I and my colleagues are not the
only ones on trial. Shell is here on trial and it is as well that
it is represented by counsel said to be holding a watching brief.
The Company has, indeed, ducked this particular trial, but its day
will surely come and the lessons learnt here may prove useful to it
for there is no doubt in my mind that the ecological war that the
Company has waged in the Delta will be called to question sooner than
later and the crimes of that war be duly punished. The crime of the
Company's dirty wars against the Ogoni people will also be punished."
"In my innocence of the false charges I face here, in my utter
conviction, I call upon the Ogoni people, the peoples of the Niger
delta, and the oppressed ethnic minorities of Nigeria to stand up
now and fight fearlessly and peacefully for their rights. History
is on their side. God is on their side. For the Holy Quran says in
Sura 42, verse 41:"All those that fight when oppressed incur
no guilt, but Allah shall punish the oppressor. Come the day."
Cindy Baxter, Greenpeace Communications
Paul Horsman, Greenpeace International
Steve Kretzmann, Greenpeace USA
1ST ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF KEN SARO WIWA
- 10th November 1996 -
On this, the occasion of the first anniversary of the execution of
Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight of his fellow activists, Greenpeace woud like
to comment on the context giving rise to this senseless tragedy. The
nine activists we remember today were united over their concern about
the environmental destruction of the Niger delta. The oil industry,
including but not limited to Royal Du tch Shell, has for years been
and remains the engine of this destruction.
Relatively few people live in such close proximity to the ravages
of inadequately controlled and monitored oil development as do the
Ogoni people, but as we now know climate change caused by the use
of oil and other fossils fuels is an additional environmental menace
Events such as these must spur a rapid conversion from destructive
to re newable energy and to the building of a sustainable economy.
On this sombre anniversary, oil exploration is pushing furthe r into
the last remaining frontiers and wilderness areas, into fragile ecological
areas and into the human environment. As a rule, the easily exploitable
oil reserves are gone. As a consequence the oil companies are advancing
on reserves that were previously viewed as inaccessable or off-limits.
These developments come at a time when scientific opinion tells us
that if we only burn the produ ction of known oil reserves, and leave
existing reserves untouched, we could already trigger irreversible
and dangerous climate change which would transform life as we know
In the broader context the activism that occasioned reprisals against
nine environmentalists from the Niger Delta could be viewed as another
warning to the rest of us. What is happening in Nigeri a is in some
respects a repeat of similar ravages caused by oil development elsewhere
and is mere prelude to tragic events world-wide. More tragedy and
pain is inevitable unless the rest of us stop to turn our attention
to the oil industry, not only in Nigeria but around the world, and
decide if we can continue to allow our civilization to be fueled on
destructive and polluting energy so urces.
In 1992, at the Earth Summit in Brazil, governments agreed on and
pledged commitment to the goal of stablizing and then reducing emissions
of greenhouse gases below dangerous levels. This was base d on scientific
estimates that a cut of greenhouses gases of 60-80% would be necessary
to prevent potentially dangerous climate change. If this commitment
is to be honored and a response to the thre at of global climate change
realized, we must forego the development of even the known oil fields
and seek to develop solar and other energy forms, many of which are
Why in this context, should a conflict between the oil industry and
people whose land unfortunately sits on top of an oil field persist
to the point of tragedy? Moreover, what justificat ion is there for
Shell and other multinational oil companies to fail, as they have
in Nigeria, to even meet the environmental standards imposed on the
industry in their home countries?
The foregoing calls into question whether continued oil development
in Nigeria can be justified. If, however, Shell continues to operate
in Nigeria, Greenpeace calls for the following:
1. In addition to the current Niger Delta Environmental Survey
(NDES) a full and independent international inquiry into Shell's and
other oil companies' operations in Nigeria to determine whether the
y comply with the environmental laws of Nigeria and the standards
of the industry prevalent in Europe and North America.
2. Shell's public commitment to operate under the highest standards
imposed on the industry worldwide.
3. Shell's public condemnation of the execution of environmental
activists and insistance on the immediate release of all environmental
activists still confined as a result of acts of conscience.
4. Publication by Nigeria and all other fossil fuel producing
countries of the total annual greenhouse gases which result from the
production of oil, gas and other fossil fuels each year, and as a
proportion of global emissions.
- Remember Saro Wiwa
Death of Ken Saro-Wiwa and The Persistence of Colonialisms
- Ken Saro-Wiwa und der gewaltfreie Widerstand der Ogoni in Nigeria