NEW YORK CITY, USA, April 27, 2009 — Days after a judge confirmed Shell Oil will stand trial here May 26 on charges it was complicit in the murders of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Nigerian activists, environmental and human rights groups announced they have formed a global campaign to hold Shell accountable and demand that it stop gas flaring in Nigeria.
The campaign, headquartered at www.ShellGuilty.com, is being coordinated by Oil Change International, Friends of the Earth, and PLATFORM/Remember Saro-Wiwa. In addition to the website, the campaign will include grassroots advocacy, TV and online ads, and calls for Shell to come clean about its corporate irresponsibility, human rights abuses, and record of environmental devastation. The campaigners are demanding that Shell stop gas flaring.
“Ken Saro-Wiwa’s hanging revealed the true price of oil,” said Steve Kretzmann of Oil Change International. “Now, as Shell finally goes on trial for its crimes, we continue the struggle that Saro-Wiwa died for. For the climate and the communities of Nigeria, Shell must end gas flaring.”
“Gas flaring in Nigeria, where Shell is by far the largest oil company, poisons Niger Delta communities and is a large, wasteful, source of global warming pollution,” said Paul de Clerck of Friends of the Earth International. “It’s time for Shell to end to its human rights abuses and climate crimes, including its gas flaring in Nigeria.”
“We remember Saro-Wiwa by keeping alive his nonviolent struggle,” said Ben Amunwa of PLATFORM/Remember Saro-Wiwa. “People around the world who care about these issues can demand justice from Shell—for all the victims of the oil industry—by joining our campaign at www.ShellGuilty.com.”
For more information about the campaign, Ken Saro-Wiwa, and gas flaring, visit www.ShellGuilty.com
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
In the U.K.: Ben Amunwa, Platform/Remember Saro-Wiwa, +44-207-357-0055, +44-7891-454-714, email@example.com
In the Netherlands: Anne van Schaik, Friends of the Earth Netherlands, +31-6-2182 9589, firstname.lastname@example.org
In Belgium: Paul de Clerck, Friends of the Earth International: +32-494-38 09 59 or email@example.com
In the U.S.: Nick Berning, Friends of the Earth US, +1-202-222-0748, firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Kretzmann Oil Change International, +1-202-497-1033, email@example.com
* Ken Saro-Wiwa was a writer and leading activist demanding rights for Nigeria’s Ogoni people, including an end to Shell’s gas flaring in Ogoni regions. As a result of his activism, Saro-Wiwa was detained, imprisoned and tortured throughout the early 1990s. On November 10, 1995, Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists were executed by the Nigerian government for their campaigning. Substantial evidence indicates Shell collaborated with the Nigerian government in a campaign of brutal crackdowns that culminated in the execution of Saro-Wiwa and his colleagues. Shell will be forced to face this evidence in U.S. federal district court in New York City in a trial that begins May 26. On April 23, Judge Kimba Wood rejected Shell’s last-ditch attempt to avoid trial, rejecting the company’s claim that the court did not have jurisdiction to consider the case.
* Gas flares are open-air fires that burn the natural gas that is released when oil is extracted from the ground. Industry sources and World Bank research estimates vary, but most indicate that gas flaring in the Niger Delta sends 53 to 60 million tons of carbon dioxide (a global warming pollutant) into the atmosphere each year. This is equivalent to the annual emissions of nine to ten million cars in the U.S. Gas flares are toxic and harmful to human health, which is why they are strictly regulated in countries such as the U.S. or U.K. But because such flaring is cheap when environmental and human costs are not taken into consideration, Shell and other oil companies have burned gas flares continuously for decades in countries like Nigeria.
* PLATFORM is a U.K.-based arts and campaign group focusing on the impact of the oil and gas industry on the rights of local communities. PLATFORM’s Remember Saro-Wiwa project aims to create a permanent Living Memorial to Ken Saro-Wiwa in London and to raise awareness about the ongoing environmental and social devastation of the Niger Delta by oil companies such as Shell.
* Oil Change International (www.priceofoil.org) campaigns to expose the true costs of oil and facilitate the coming transition towards clean energy. We are dedicated to identifying and overcoming political barriers to that transition.