National Union of Ogoni Students

Dedicated to the memory of Ken Saro-Wiwa, the Ogoni people, and all indigenous students around the world

August 20, 2001

OPEN LETTER TO THE OPUTA COMMISSION:SHELL AND OPUTA ARE OUT OF STEP IN OGONI

Filed under: Press Release @ 11:36 am

MOVEMENT FOR THE SURVIVAL OF THE OGONI PEOPLE

(MOSOP International)

7402 AQUA LANE, HOUSTON, TEXAS 77072

Phone/fax: (281) 933-2479; email: mosop-Intl@hotmail.com

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August 20, 2001.

OPEN LETTER TO THE OPUTA COMMISSION:

SHELL AND OPUTA ARE OUT OF STEP IN OGONI

MOSOP is appalled that the Oputa Commission of Inquiry has abandoned its mission in Ogoni and rather has chosen to perpetuate the status quo, the economics of oil and the politics of intimidation and oppression.

We regard the invitation of MOSOP by the Oputa Panel to a meeting to attempt talks at reconciliation between Shell and the Ogoni people as another poor political and public relations gimmick to divert attention from the real issues at stake.

MOSOP also views the proposed call for reconciliation as an action that represents another phase of the paradigm of recycled injustices which further alienates the commission from the stated goals of its mission. The Ogoni people are curious that a commission which rejected a petition that called for an investigation of the quasi judicial process by which Mr. Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogonis were tried, convicted and executed, to determine the fairness or otherwise of its processes, a call within the purview of its Terms of Reference, has turned around to broker a ‘reconciliation’ meeting which can not be situated in any of its terms.

For the avoidance of any doubts, we wish to remind the Oputa Panel that the Ogoni people, through MOSOP, in 1990 confronted Shell and the Nigerian state with three topical issues that continues to decimate and confine the Ogoni nation to annihilation, namely, POLITICAL MARGINALIZATION, ECONOMIC STRANGULATION and ECOLOGICAL DEVASTATION. Our people’s concerns, demands and expectations were articulated in the Ogoni Bill of Rights and presented to government and Shell. Rather than call for dialogue on the issues that were presented non-violently, the oppressors visited a violent war on the people with the intent to silence dissent and reinstate Shell.

The results of the clamp down have been horrifying - Several people, including women, children and senior citizens have been arrested and imprisoned extra-judicially, tortured, shot, and incapacitated in military actions coerced and sponsored by Shell. Six Ogoni villages have been leveled in military campaigns. The entire Ogoni nationality was driven into forests and bushes for a six-week period in 1994 and an estimated two thousand Ogonis have lost their lives while the same number now live in different countries as refugees. The military also drove Ogonis out of eleven of their traditional village settlements and aided neighboring communities to annex them till date. In an ad-hoc ‘justice’ system custom-made for the Ogoni, Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogonis were framed up and executed by a military tribunal in which Shell and Government were the only parties which had counsel. The above are just a few of the paid load of injustices for Ogoni which the the Oputa Commission wishes to march over, rather than work through, to reinstate Shell in Ogoni.

MOSOP is aware that some of the people involved with the Oputa panel in the present effort have long been bankrolled by Shell to “mediate” in their dispute with Ogoni. We know that the only objective of the government that appointed the panel is to insure “ …free, peaceful and unfettered access for normal operations” in Ogoni (Reuters, Feb. 2, 2001). When wolves begin to add sheep’s clothing to their wardrobe, the danger it posses to unsuspecting playing children and their vulnerability is enormous and incalculable. The only logical caution the responsible parent would give is for children to regard every appearance of ‘sheep’ as a wolf in disguise. It is this hypothesis that may well guarantee survival and alleviate a long-term annihilation of its species.

Consequently, MOSOP urges all patriotic Ogonis to avoid every attempt by Shell and the Nigerian government to lure them with disguised short-term advantages that would obliterate the long-range objectives of a struggle for which thousands of people have been martyred and several villages lost. It was at the graveside of Mr. Agbarator Otu, shot in the back by Shell/Government forces during a peaceful

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protest in 1993 that Chief Edward Kobani, then deputy president of MOSOP declared, “Now that blood has been spilled, the struggle can no longer be abandoned”. Today, not only has his own blood been shed, the Nigerian system of injustice denies him justice by refusing to investigate the circumstances of the killings in which its military forces could be implicated.

· MOSOP International calls on all well meaning Ogonis to boycott any ‘reconciliation’ meeting with Shell until the enabling environment has been created to justify such.

· The Oputa Commission should fully investigate and make recommendations on all cases of complicity of government and Shell in human rights abuses in Ogoni.

· Government should immediately release the bodies of the Ogoni nine to their families.

· There should be a thorough investigation of the Giokoo killings to identify the people behind it and bring them to trial, including the prosecution of persons who lied to get people hanged.

· Shell should accept full responsibility for its five decades of pollution in Ogoni and immediately fund an independent environmental assessment and auditing in Ogoni which would become the basis for the pursuance of full environmental clean-up and restoration at all existing pollution sites.

· Shell must be seen as transparent by guaranteeing and allowing complete public accessibility of the contingency plan which must meet known international standards.

· Shell and government should respond to the Ogoni Bill of Rights and set ground rules for a negotiation process that must be open and democratic, to take place in Ogoni.

· Government and Shell should denounce the use of military force in conducting oil business in Ogoni and set the process for implementing the recommendations of the United Nations (1996) Fact-finding Mission to Ogoni which they have hitherto ignored.

Meshach Karanwi.

General Secretary, MOSOP International.

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