Shell Targeted In Country Wide Vigils - Global Day of Action on Environmental Justice

10 November 2005 - Today marks the 10th Anniversary of the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight colleagues by the Nigerian state in 1995. South African civil society organisations [1] will be holding vigil between 07:00 hrs and 09:00 hrs outside various Shell petrol stations in Durban, Cape Town, Sasolburg, Secunda, Vanderbijl Park, Vereeniging, Johannesburg, Pietermaritzburg, and the Shell Head Quarters in Cape Town. This is part of a global day of remembrance. [2]

As a leader within the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) [3: Details of MOSOP in Nigeria] Saro-Wiwa challenged the oil companies and the Nigerian government accusing them of waging an ecological war against the Ogoni and precipitating the genocide of the Ogoni people. He was so effective, that by 1993 the oil companies had to pull out of Ogoni. This cost him his life after repeated imprisonments. Ken was sentenced to death by the Nigerian military regime

As in Nigeria, Shell’s environmental impact in south Durban has had much attention over the last decade. Shell has had fuel pipeline leaks in south Durban, has admitted to under recording their pollution in south Durban and operates with double standards, i.e. using higher environmental management standards in the north as to in south Durban, and they have sought to influence the Mayor of Durban to reconsider legal challenges against them.

groundWork’s Air Quality Campaigner, Siziwe Khanyile, will be leading the vigil in Pietermaritzburg. “To ensure that this day is remembered every year, groundWork is starting a process of working with civil society organisations globally to call for the 10 November annually to be a Day of Action on Environmental Justice.”

Caroline Ntaopane, of the Sasolburg Air Quality Monitoring Committee (SAQMC) visited the Niger Delta with groundWork and other South African community people in May 2005. “We need to support our brothers and sisters in other parts of Africa and recognise that our struggles are one against big oil in Africa. If we do not unite, the devastation of the Niger Delta will manifest itself throughout Africa”, states Ms Ntaopane.

People have also been displaced as a result of the government violence in the Niger Delta. Barry Wuganaale, a Nigerian from the Ogoni peoples lives in South Africa and has started the Ogoni Solidarity Forum, to ensure that the voice of the Ogoni people exiled in Benin as a result of government and corporate brutality, continues to be heard.

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[1] Organisations involved in Vigil:

[2] Links to other global activities:

[3] MOSOP: