On Life, love and Politics

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Ken Sarowiwo’s Family finnaly get $15.5 Million in Settlement June 10, 2009

Filed under: Articles in English/Les articles anglaise — kikenileda @ 3:47 AM

Oil Giant Royal Dutch Shell agreed to settle a lawsuit that accused them of ordering the death of nine oil industry opponents who led non-violent protests to heighten awareness of deadly toxic poisons released from oil burning in Nigeria.

The settlement was reached June 8 after a 13 year dispute that was set to go to trial in U.S. district court in New York. Shell has agreed to pay $15.5 million to the Ogoni people of Nigeria who have suffered from the oil toxins that pollute their land. 

"If you drive through the Niger Delta, if you walk through communities, you'll find communities who live beside these enormous flames, which burn 24 hours," said Ben Amunwa of Remember Sarowiwa. "A cocktail of toxins is released when Shell and other oil companies burn gas like this. Toxins like benzene have been seeping into the water supply and ruining crops, and causing cancer among local communities for many years." 

In the early 1990's, Nigerian writer and poet Ken Saro-Wiwa led peaceful protests to fight the pollution of the Niger Delta by oil companies, namely Shell, reports VOA News. The message behind the movement was the Ogoni's people homeland was being heavily polluted by oil spills and toxins released by the burning off byproducts from oil extraction. Saro-Wiwa urged the Ogoni people to join the non-violent movement in efforts to cease the environmental contamination of their land, for which the native people saw no monetary compensation.

"In recovering the money that has been stolen from us, I do not want any blood spilled – not of an Ogoni man, not of any strangers amidst us," Saro-Wiwa said. "We are going to demand our rights peacefully, non-violently, and we shall win." 

Saro-Wiwa along with 8 other oil industry opponents were executed on November 10, 1995, after a military tribunal convicted them of what is believed to be fabricated  charges of murdering four political rivals.

Shell has been under investigation for a number of years for allegedly ordering the execution of Saro-Wiwa to silence the man and his campaign for environmental awareness.

Human rights groups and activists rallied near a  New York court house last week, where Shell was set to stand trial for the complicity of murder, torture and basic human rights abuses in Nigeria at their request. 

"This was a case where a multinational corporation completely conspired with a military government to silence peaceful opposition, said Steve Kretzman of Oil Change International.

According to a lawsuit filed by Earthrights International and the Center for Constitutional Rights, Shell Oil funded and approved Nigeria's imprisonment and eventual murder of the activists, namely, Saro-Wiwa.

"We feel their fingerprints are all over the tortures, the murders, the extra-judicial executions of Ogoni people between 1993 and 1996," said Saro-Wiwa's son, Ken Saor-Wiwa junior.

Jonathan Dimmer, an attorney who advises multi-national corporations, says the settlement is a big win for activist groups because it could fund similar lawsuits in the near future.

"Each one of these cases that actually gets to this stage, right up to the door of trial, are important cases," Drimmer said. "They're important in demonstrating that these types of issues, human rights violations, can indeed make it through a judicial system can be heard."

"When your father… is executed for a crime he did not commit, very publicly like that, it's painful," Saro-Wiwa junior told The Daily Mail. He added, "And to live 12 years without justice, without getting a sense of relief, seeing the perpetrators of the crimes continuing to benefit from their crimes, these are difficult things for many human being to deal with."

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