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Thursday, April 14, 2005

Nigeria- great for big corporations

Apart from the total inability of the Nigerian government to stop the old "help me get this money out of the country" scam, they are also unable to get out of bed with the various oil companies turning their country into a wasteland- economic, environmental and human rights.

Australian (ABC) reporter Eric Campbell and his cameraman have been arrested:
Campbell said they approached armed police officers guarding bulldozers that were destroying mud brick and corrugated iron shacks housing more than 5,000 people near the Agip Waterside neighbourhood, and asked if they could film.

Instead they were arrested, Campbell said.
Eric Campbell is an extremely well respected reporter who has been through every reporters nightmare- the death of one of their team:

ERIC CAMPBELL: Earlier today we got word that an Ansar Islam base to some fundamentalists in Kurdistan had come under attack from US warplanes last night, and had been overrun by Kurds. So all the journalists here basically headed down on mass to this base. It seemed fairly quiet and Paul and I went up into the captured base to do some filming. There were some remnants of Ansar about a kilometre away beyond the checkpoint, and at one stage we heard some machine gunfire, so we ducked down behind the trench and then later we're told that it had just been some Kurds firing, firing bullets in victory.

Then we finished filming and went down and we were just packing up the car and about to go and Paul was getting one last shot of [pause] getting one last shot of some Peshnigas [phonetic] who were running towards the base and he walked about 15 metres in front of me to get this shot and a taxi just screamed up beside him and exploded, and we were thrown back and Paul was dead, andÂ…
Back to dear old Nigeria:
The Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People has criticised the month-long demolitions ordered by the state government, saying they unduly target shanty towns inhabited by the Ogoni ethnic minority.
The Ogoni minority in Nigeria have been and the blunt (or pointy) end of Nigerian domestic policy for many years. Sometimes the government has really done a number on them:
The movement was founded by activist-writer Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was executed along with eight others by Nigeria's former military government in 1995.
It's my feeling that this execution (which caused me to stop using Shell products for a while- my hypocrisy has boundaries) to a degree kicked off the modern Corporation Hate we so often see. While I don't personally think that Nike or McDonalds are exactly public enemy number one- Shell's behaviour at the time was appaling (rather by omission rather than act). And it's not just in Nigeria: [from: http://www.shell.com/home/royal-en/html/iwgen/tellshell/thread12/Thread.htm ]
I am joining the growing chorus of civil rights, human rights, and environmental organizations that will continue to support the Diamond citizens' struggle for freedom. Your corporation is fast becoming the poster child for environmental justice, recalling the status of Shell as an international human rights pariah for its actions in Nigeria. Shell's disregard for the Diamond community adds another shameful chapter to the history of this corporation, following on the heels of Shell's destruction of Nigeria's Ogoni community and the corporation's complicity in the murder of Ken Saro Wiwa.

The last word should go to someone else:
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 punished.
- Ken Saro-Wiwa, addressing the court after his death sentence.


Greenpeace's Website about Ken Saro-Wiwa
Shell's webpage about Nigeria
Death of ABC cameraman in northern Iraq
Do a Google serarch and learn about what happened to Ken Saro-Wiwa
The Age- Nigerian police arrest Aust reporters
posted by thr at 9:37 am

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