Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Blood & Oil In the Niger Delta

Nigerian actress Lola Toluwase during the shooting of the movie "Covenant of the Ancestors", in the creeks of Sagbama near Yenagoa in the volatile Niger Delta region of Nigeria, August 2006. The film is about the restiveness caused by the politics of oil in the Niger Delta and how young people have been caught up in conflict through the formation of militant groups., Courtesy Reuters.

On May 13, the Nigerian military launched an assault on villages in that nation’s oil-rich Niger Delta. Hundreds of civilians are feared killed in the attack. According to Amnesty International, a celebration in the delta village of Oporoza was attacked. An eyewitness told the organization: “I heard the sound of aircraft; I saw two military helicopters, shooting at the houses, at the palace, shooting at us. We had to run for safety into the forest. In the bush, I heard adults crying, so many mothers could not find their children; everybody ran for their life.”

The above quote is from an article by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!. Since May 21, Goodman's radio show has been following events in the Niger Delta, where the Nigerian army--to protect foreign energy interests--has moved violently against militant insurgencies demanding a greater share of the lucrative oil wealth. Hundreds have been killed, and thousands displaced in the recent military operation. Militants have responded by blowing up an important oil pipeline and threatening to do the same to others. In the midst of all this, Shell Oil is on the verge of having its day in court to answer for its alleged role in the 1995 execution of activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. But the happenings in the Niger Delta aren't new, as its impoverished inhabitants living in destitution and poverty have been trying to tell the world of their troubles for decades. The land they have long lived on has been called an ecological catastrophe that approaches a monstrosity, as the ground, water and skies are polluted for oil production. The life expectancy in the Delta has dropped to the 40s and even the rain is toxic. What is occurring now may be finally catching the world's attention, but it has been long in the making.

More on this expanding conflict after the fold...

Massive Casualties Feared in Nigerian Military Attack on Niger Delta Villages

The Nigerian military has been accused of killing hundreds, maybe thousands, of civilians in the oil-rich Niger Delta. The military offensive began eight days ago but has received little international attention. We go to Nigeria to speak with Denzil Amagbe Kentebe of the Ijaw National Congress. We’re also joined by Sandy Cioffi, director of the new documentary Sweet Crude about the Niger Delta. The village of Oporoza, where much of the film was shot, has just been burned down.

Read full article here.

Shell on Trial: Landmark Trial Set to Begin Over Shell’s Role in 1995 Execution of Nigerian Human Rights Activist Ken Saro-Wiwa

A landmark trial against oil giant Royal Dutch Shell’s alleged involvement in human rights violations in the Niger Delta begins this Wednesday in a federal court in New York. Fourteen years after the widely condemned execution of the acclaimed Nigerian writer and environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, the court will hear allegations that Shell was complicit in his torture and execution.

Read full article here.

Sweet Crude

Sweet Crude is the story of Nigeria’s Niger Delta – a story that’s never been captured in a feature-length film. Beginning with the filmmaker’s initial trip to document the building of a library in a remote village, Sweet Crude is a journey of multilayered revelation and ever-deepening questions. It’s about survival, corruption, greed and armed resistance. It’s about one place in one moment, with themes that echo many places throughout history. Sweet Crude shows the humanity behind the statistics, events and highly sensationalized media portrayal of the region. Set against a stunning backdrop of Niger Delta footage, the film gives voice to the region’s complex mix

Learn more about the documentary here. Take action on what is currently happening here.

Pollution in the Niger Delta

CORP WATCH- NIGERIA: Niger Delta bears brunt after 50 years of oil spills


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