Shell Oil is to face tough questions about their poor human rights record in Nigeria at a meeting held in Aberdeen on Thursday, 11 March.
According to Amnesty International, Shell has made around £600 billion since the 1960s fron Nigerian oil deposits despite the fact that the majority of Nigerians continue to live in absolute poverty with no access to clean water or health care.
Shell has also been responsible for pollution in the Niger Delta which has resulted in health problems for the people living in those regions.
The long history of human rights abuses by Shell in Nigeria have led to various activists groups campaigning against the company and for an equal distribution of the wealth from oil profits.
In June 2009, Shell Oil was implicated in the murders of Nigerian activists and in particular leading environmental activist and poet Ken Saro- Wiwa, leader of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People.
Nigerian environmentalist and poet Ken Saro-Wiwa was executed along with eight other activists by the Nigerian military in 1995 on false charges. Evidence suggests that Shell ordered the killings and provided the weapons to the military.
Ken Saro-Wiwa actively opposed the operations of Shell in Nigeria saying that it was responsible for devastating oil spillages and destroying the natural habitat in which farmers and fishermen have made their living for years.
In an article by Patrick Bond and Khadija Sharife, titled “Shell on trial while Nigerians are slaughtered”, it is stated that Shell was responsible for 2,900 oil spills in the region. (ZMag: 25 May 2009)
The corrupt Nigerian government led by President Yar’Adua hides the wealth of the country off shores, which is estimated at $100 billion, while seventy percent of people live on less than one US dollar a day in a region which is the seventh largest producer of oil in the world.
According to the article Shell has spilled more than 1.5 million tonnes of oil in Nigeria since drilling began 51 years ago.
Ken Saro-Wiwa decided enough was enough and in 1993 he organised 300,000 non-violent protesters against Shell’s operations in Nigeria. When Ken Saro-Wiwa began protesting against Shell and its operations he appeared to have become a threat to Shell’s interests.
According to Bond and Sharife, it was recorded that Shell executives met with the Nigerian High Commission in London referring to the activists’ struggle against the pollution of their land as a “virus”, and also stating that if it continued it would be the end of the oil business in Nigeria.
Shell is accused of hiring the Nigerian military to kill members of the movement which was against their operations. They are also accused of providing the weapons and paying off false witnesses to accuse Ken Saro-Wiwa and others of murder, which led to their executions in 1995.
Shell denies being an accomplice to murders and ordering the killings of the leading activists, however they agreed to pay £9.6 million to end the lawsuit which suggests complicity of some kind.
Shell will be answering questions by Amnesty International at the New Kings Building, University of Aberdeen, on Thursday, 11 March, at 7pm.
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