Nigeria: The video Shell does not want you to see

June 1, 2009 -- ShellGuilty -- A pre-trial conference scheduled in the potentially landmark lawsuit brought by Nigerian plaintiffs against oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has been delayed until June 3. The conference was announced following the decision by the presiding judge in the US Southern District Court in New York to delay indefinitely the actual trial. Jury selection in the trial itself had been meant to start April 27, but was put off the day before. No new date was set.

Shell is accused of complicity in the 1995 hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa, a renowned writer and activist, and other leaders of a movement protesting alleged environmental destruction and other abuses by Shell against the Ogoni people in the Niger Delta.

The corporation, which has a powerful presence in Nigeria, is also accused of complicity in the torture, detention and exile of Saro-Wiwa’s brother, Owens Wiwa, and other violent attacks on dissidents in the country.

The civil suit was brought by victims of Nigeria’s former military government, including Saro-Wiwa’s son. They sued under the Alien Tort Claims Act, a US law that dates to 1789 which is being increasingly used as a way to penalise human rights violations in foreign countries. The act requires companies with a substantial presence in the United States to obey US law everywhere in the world.

On May 12, Shell’s lawyers filed a motion opposing the admission of prominent human rights attorney Paul Hoffman to serve as trial counsel for the plaintiffs, citing the fact that he had posted a link on his law firm’s website to a video from the plaintiffs’ website. The motion refers to the “plaintiffs’ ‘campaign video’''. The court ruled against Shell's lawyers’ motion to oppose admission of Hoffman to serve as trial counsel for the plaintiffs, but ordered the removal of the video from the plaintiffs’ educational website about the case.

The ShellGuilty campaign has re-posted the video, dubbing it ``The Video Shell Doesn’t Want You to See'', and wrote about Shell’s attempts to suppress it in an article on Huffington Post, which was widely circulated via social networking sites such as Digg, Twitter and Facebook.

The video lays out the plaintiffs’ case against Shell, and includes documentary footage of the late Ken Saro-Wiwa, leading Ogoni activist who was hanged by the Nigerian military in 1995 along with eight fellow activists. The plaintiffs, including Saro-Wiwa’s son Ken Saro-Wiwa Jr., assert that Shell conspired with the Nigeria military in the prosecution and execution of the men, known as the ``Ogoni 9''.

The video and article can also be viewed here:

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ShellGuilty on Facebook:




i am sick to death of life being lost. although, not wasted. money and power are the ruins of our lives. these beast who pray on the youth, and lead there minds to destruction must be stopped.nothing here belongs to us, but belongs to the one who created it. there for none of us are rich.only life has worth, because life was given by the creator. those who are rich are those who are preserving life, not taking life. the more life you take,the less life you have, which makes you a poor man.

jah rastafari

angel brohawn


June 9, 2009

FROM: Oil Change International

Dear Oil Change Friend,

Huge news coming out of New York tonight. After thirteen years, and

countless hours of work by many, Royal Dutch Shell settled with the

families of Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Ogoni tonight. The case is a

landmark victory for corporate accountability, human rights, and

environmental justice.

You can read all about it at the Shell Guilty campaign, and here's a

quick overview from the Guardian. If you want a more personal

reflection, read the excellent piece below from Ken Saro-Wiwa Jr.

But most importantly, THANK YOU. Lawyers told us quite clearly that one

of the main reasons that Shell settled was because of the media and

activist pressure that we brought. Just a few months ago, a lawyer

close to Shell told us that they would settle "when hell froze over" and

he "skated on it": But that was before our ShellGuilty campaign. Over

11,000 of you sent messages to Shell, and we hit them around the world

in the media. That pressure made all the difference.

We'll soon have more updates on the case, on the amazing evidence that

was uncovered, and our ongoing efforts to hold Shell accountable for

their human rights and climate crimes. We'll also have more on the

ongoing crimes in the Niger Delta today. Until then though, please

accept the gratitude and respect of all the staff and Board at Oil

Change International.




Some release from the torments of the past

Murdered activist's son on his reaction to Shell's $15.5m settlement

There was no hat-in-the-air moment, no popping of champagne corks.

Instead it was a steady accumulation of conviction conveyed by email to

my BlackBerry over the course of a long transatlantic day that included

the red eye from JFK in New York to London. Each email was a little less

tentative than the previous one until the final confirmation arrived

with the curiously tentative subject line: "its done???"

Anti-climax doesn't quite describe this moment because you know, deep

down, that the settlement is only the beginning of a process that you

hope will lead to a better outcome for all the stakeholders in this

issue but it is the end, for sure, of a 13-year-long court case.

It actually feels like those years all happened in the last month or

even over this weekend but the reality is that the case moved along in

fits and spurts. Looking back now I would have started out with far less

optimism had I known how many hours I would spend in airless rooms, how

many animated discussions, how many sleepless nights mulling over the

pros and cons of settling the case.

Nothing. Nothing about this has come or will ever come easy. Every word,

every phrase and every comma has been weighed, scrutinised and debated.

These are life and death matters. Head versus heart. The case has been

freighted with all kinds of agendas that it cannot possibly satisfy. In

the end a settlement is a compromise; both parties agree to settle their

differences by meeting in a so-called middle. That middle is a matter of

perspective of course. To some this must be bewildering. To others it

was too long in coming. In the end it is only those who are intimately

involved, who have everything to lose and everything to gain that have

to make a decision that will not satisfy everyone.

History will show that this was a landmark case. Multinationals now know

that a precedent has been set, that it is possible to be sued for human

rights violations in foreign jurisdictions.

In the end we collectively agreed to settle because the terms and

conditions of the offer from Shell enabled us to gain some measure of

psychological or financial relief, provided for a contribution towards

the future development of our community.

But it also enabled us to advertise the settlement as a living,

breathing example of how and why the commitment to peace, non-violence

and dialogue is the best way to resolve the challenges in the Niger Delta.

How the Ogoni community and the rest of the actors in the Niger Delta

respond is the next, critical, step. There are other cases outstanding

against Shell. Feelings still run high. Many people suffered and many

more are still suffering unnecessarily.

This settlement will not in itself immediately provide them with any

restitution other than the consolation that with enough perseverance and

commitment to justice, a better, safer, more humane and more prosperous

world is possible.

For the plaintiffs and more specifically for me, it is time to pause for

breath, a time to contemplate that this settlement can finally release

us from the torments of the past so that we can face the future with a

tangible measure of hope.

Or just maybe it is time to stop being the son of my father and be the

father to my sons.

-Ken Wiwa Jr., writing in the Guardian