NOVEMBER 10, 2010 – Today, on the 15th anniversary of the murder of the Nigerian writer and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, remembrance activities are being organized all over the world by Friends of the Earth International and others. They continue his legacy of defending territories, resisting corporate rule and state repression and seeking justice for communities who suffer from the practices of companies like Shell.

Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni leaders were sentenced to death on 10 November 1995 for speaking out against the impact of Shell and other oil companies in the Niger Delta.

Nnimmo Bassey, the Nigerian chair of Friends of the Earth International, said:

“The world’s addiction to fossil fuels put the hangman’s noose around the neck of Ken Saro-Wiwa. His words, though spoken fifteen years ago, still ring true in our ears today. Today we all stand before history. We stand in front of a backdrop of injustices, oppression and ecological genocide – not just historical but current. It is the threat of its progressing into the future that we must fight.”

A new report exposing a grave example of this threat was published yesterday by Friends of the Earth Netherlands. In the report, oil expert Richard Steiner, biologist and former professor at Alaska University, exposed that Shell is still violating international environmental standards on a large scale in the Niger Delta, which results in 250 oil leakages every year.

Read the report Double standard: Shell practices in Nigeria compared with international standards to prevent and control pipeline oil spills and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Romel de Vera, coordinator of Friends of the Earth International’s Resisting Mining Oil and Gas program, said:

“Fifteen years after the death of Ken Saro Wiwa and his comrades, the corporate hunger for oil and minerals that led to their hanging is now more present, pervasive and prevalent globally than it ever was. Contradicting the extractive corporations’ social development propaganda is the underlying viciousness of the industry that has led to the killings of many more community rights defenders all over the world. The growing number of local anti-mining activists is a testament to this fact.”

In Nigeria, today, there will be events to mark the Global Day of Remembrance in Benin City, Port Harcourt, Yenagoa and Lagos. Other African countries , including South Africa and Mozambique, will have commemoration events as well. In the Philippines there will be five parallel remembrance activities in different parts of the country, including a prayer vigil in Manila. In the Netherlands, a coalition of eight environmental and human rights organizations including Friends of the Earth Netherlands, will organize a public event and commemoration to honor the legacy of Ken Saro Wiwa in The Hague, where Shell currently stands trial for oil pollution in Nigeria. Friends of the Earth International chair Nnimmo Bassey will join the event.

Bassey said:

“Standing on the shoulders of history we see clearly the beginnings of the trials that are bound to expose those who have waged ecological wars against the peoples of the Niger Delta and elsewhere in the world. The labors of our heroes past must not be in vain. We demand environmental justice and an end to fossil fuel addiction: be it crude oil, tar sands or coal.”


Nnimmo Bassey, Friends of the Earth International chair and director of Friends of the Earth Nigeria: nnimmo [at], +234 803 727 4395 (Nigerian mobile)

Romel de Vera, coordinator of Friends of the Earth International’s Resisting Mining Oil and Gas program, meldevera [at], +6329281372 (Phillippines)