Dublin Events Marking the 20th Anniversary Of Killing Of Ogoni 9

Vigil outside Shell Headquarters on the 20th anniversary of the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni 9. Photo: Derek Speirs
Vigil outside Shell Headquarters on the 20th anniversary of the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni 9. Photo: Derek Speirs

On Tuesday November 10th 2015 at 6pm, human rights campaigners and environmentalists gathered at Shell’s Irish headquarters to mark the twentieth anniversary of the execution of poet and playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others known as the Ogoni 9. The vigil is being organised by Afri and is supported folk singer Christy Moore and Sr. Majella McCarron, an Irish missionary nun from County Fermanagh who was formerly based in Nigeria where she was a friend of Saro-Wiwa.

The Ogoni 9, campaigners against Shell’s activities in the Niger Delta, were executed by hanging in 1995 by the military dictatorship of General Sani Abacha. In 1996 the U.S based Center for Constitutional Rights sued Shell for its complicity in human right abuses against the Ogoni people, including collusion in bringing about the deaths of the Ogoni 9. In June 2009, on the eve of the trial, a settlement of $15.5 million was made to establish a trust on behalf of the Ogoni people. Shell continues to face fierce criticism for the environmental and health legacy they have left in Ogoniland. (Ref: http://www.amnesty.org.uk/blogs/yes-minister-it-human-rights-issue/shell-oil-nigeria-ken-saro-wiwa-niger-delta )

Ken Saro-Wiwa’s brother Owens, speaking about his brother’s death has said that he fears lessons have not been learned.

“Shell talks of jobs and progress, crows about its lavish philanthropy and promises that no harm will be done, no chaos left in its wake. I heard these promises in Rossport and I fear that Shell’s bounty in Ogoni may yet be repeated elsewhere. This is a company that pantomimes concern and compassion for human beings when its only true concern is for where new money can be found. No doubt Shell’s sights are already set on its next oil field conquest, irrespective of who lives there or their history with that land.”

“When my brother Ken was executed, his last words were “Lord, take my soul…but the struggle continues.”  I hope Ken is watching and seeing that, yes, it does. From Ogoniland to the Arctic, to Erris County Mayo and beyond, people are rising up to say “Shell No!” They are standing strong against a corporation and an entire industry that will mortgage our future for quick profits.”

Joe Murray, organiser of the vigil and Director of human rights and peace organisation Afri, agrees that there is a clear parallel between Ogoniland and Mayo.

“Just as Shell colluded with the military dictatorship in Nigeria, the Irish State has colluded with Shell in bribing, bullying and intimidating the community in Kilcommon into accepting a monument to fossil fuels at a time when climate change threatens the very survival of our planet. The Corrib gas project, in which Statoil is also a partner, has been a disaster for human rights, civil liberties and the environment. The natural gas giveaway has already resulted in a very bad deal the Irish taxpayer.”

Willie Corduff, one of the Rossport 5 who spent 94 days in prison at the behest of Shell, says the community in Erris remember the Ogoni 9 on a daily basis.

“Today, as Shell preaches progress, many miles from their homeland in Nigeria the crosses of the 9 Ogoni heroes stand defiantly in front of the main refinery gate at Ballinaboy as a reminder to Shell that their sins will follow them forever.”

A separate vigil by the Shell to Sea group was held from 12 noon at Shell’s headquarters on 52 Lower Leeson St., Dublin 2.

The Elephant and the Mouse

It would appear that Kevin Hegarty occupies the same delusional world as Christy Mahon, whom he quotes, if he believes that coverage of the Corrib Gas conflict is unbalanced in favour of the community rather than Shell and its apologists. The evidence of Shell’s well-oiled and well financed propaganda machine – in which he is an enthusiastic cog – spinning stories aimed at undermining the courageous and legitimate opposition of the local community to this destructive project is clear for all to see.

That Kevin Hegarty is happy to collude with this discredited company, which is synonymous with human rights abuses and environmental destruction around the world, from the Niger Delta to the Arctic Circle, is extraordinary. In doing so he conveniently chooses to ignore the fate of Ken Saro Wiwa and his colleagues who paid with their lives for standing up to Shell and who are appropriately memorialised at the gates of the refinery in Bellanaboy. I recently visited the Niger Delta and saw at first hand the devastation that Shell and other oil companies have wrought and how local communities have been robbed of their traditional livelihoods of farming and fishing as a result of the pollution of their lands and rivers. Continue reading “The Elephant and the Mouse”

Rights group criticise Shell and Garda over traffic blockage

The justice and human rights group Action from Ireland (Afri) has condemned the actions of Shell and the Gardai in Erris, County Mayo, over the bungled transport of tunnelling equipment for a controversial gas pipeline that has seen roads closed in the area and local people arrested, and has re-iterated its call for suspension of the project.

Afri coordinator Joe Murray said that the latest incident “represents a continuation of the long established trend whereby the health and safety of local residents has been jeopardised to boost the profits of a multinational corporation”.

“If Shell are not to be trusted to carry a piece of equipment by lorry, then how can they be trusted to transport raw, flammable gas by pipeline under an estuary and past people’s homes?”, Mr Murray asked.

Mr Murray particularly criticised the arrest yesterday of local farmer Willie Corduff for his protest at the chaos caused by the fact that a lorry carrying Shell’s tunnelling equipment had jack knifed and blocked road traffic. “Instead of charging Shell with reckless endangerment, the Gardai chose to arrest a man doing nothing more than peacefully safeguarding the welfare of his family and friends”, Mr Murray said. Mr Corduff, the winner of the prestigious Goldman Medal which is often described as the environmental Nobel Prize, was later released without charge.

Afri has previously been highly critical of the policing of the Corrib Gas dispute and has pointed to what it says were abuses perpetrated even against human rights monitors. Afri is calling for immediate suspension of all work on the project pending a thorough review of all aspects of it, including human rights, health and safety and environmental impact. Afri pointed to Shell’s much criticized environmental and human rights record in many locations throughout the world, from the Niger Delta to, more recently, the Arctic Circle, as further evidence for the need to review and revise the Corrib project in its entirety.

Rights Group Criticises Shell and Garda over Traffic Blockage: Irish Times, 7th August 2012: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2012/0807/1224321631080.html

Tutu congratulates Afri

I want to express my solidarity with, and support for, Afri on the occasion of their 35th anniversary. I am proud that Leah and I have been Afri’s International Patrons for more than 25 years. I first came to know Afri when they invited me to a conference in 1982, which I was unable to attend because my passport had been confiscated by the Apartheid government of South Africa. However, I took up that invitation two years later in 1984 and visited Ireland at Afri’s invitation during the inspiring anti-apartheid strike by young workers in Dunnes Stores in Dublin. That strike was a unique and inspirational act of international solidarity by young people in Ireland and I continue to thank them for their contribution to the struggle for freedom in South Africa. I also commend Afri for the support which they gave to the strikers, including arranging for me to meet them as I went to Oslo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.

That strike became a template for Afri’s work in the succeeding years. They have continued to be involved in education, awareness raising and campaigning on a wide range of issues from opposition to the dictatorships in Latin America throughout the 1980s to their support for communities affected by the activities of Multinational Corporations today. I have been impressed, for example, by the way in which Afri supported the Ogoni community in the Niger Delta before, during and after the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his colleagues, and how they have linked this struggle to that of the people of Rossport in the West of Ireland who are currently facing threats to their health, safety and environment by the multinational consortium which is seeking to extract gas in that region. Afri is admirable in that it has never shied away from making the difficult but necessary local global links.

Afri continues to work on a range of other challenging issues: such as support for the lifting of the blockade of Gaza; highlighting the dangers posed by global warming, climate change and peak oil; and campaigning against the ongoing obscenity of the global arms trade, costing more than 1000 billion dollars annually while a billion people in our world suffer from hunger.

Afri is a small organisation with a global reach, whose creativity and imaginative approach give it an ability to punch above its weight. Afri represents a dissenting voice that sometimes goes against the grain, an extremely important role in society, especially at a time when the dominant approaches have brought us to a situation of grave inequality and crises. I reaffirm my support for Afri, my congratulations on their 35th Anniversary and my belief that organisations like Afri are now needed more than ever and that they should be supported and encouraged by all who believe in democracy in Ireland and beyond.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu congratulates Afri (PDF)

Famine Walk 2009 – Brief report and pictures

The 21st Annual Famine Walk took place from Doolough to Louisburgh County Mayo on Saturday, May 30th 2009. As has been the case on all but one of the previous walks, the weather was good for hundreds of people who took part in the walk, the theme of which was: Power Concedes Nothing Without Demand.

Local shuttle buses ferried walkers from Louisburgh to Doolough in the now familiar pre-walk routine. At the lakeside Afri Chairperson, Andy Storey, introduced the walk leaders: Philip Ikurusi from Niger Delta; Choctaw Gary Whitedeer as well as Mary and Willie Corduff from Rossport. Extracts from the writings of Frederick Douglass were performed by Donal O’Kelly and Sorcha Fox before walkers began the ten-mile trek back into Louisburgh.


Famine Walk 2009

Saturday 30th May – Louisburgh, Co Mayo – beginning at 2pm

  Power Concedes Nothing without Demand

Walk Leaders:

Willie and Mary Corduff (Erris)

Philip Ikurusi (Niger Delta)

Gary Whitedeer (Choctaw)

with Donal O’Kelly and Sorcha fox performing a short extract from the writings from Frederick Douglass


To download the brochure click here