Ken Saro Wiwa and the oil wars

From Ken Saro-Wiwa’s closing statement at his trial:

“I and my colleagues are not the only ones on trial. Shell is here on trial and it is as well that it is represented by counsel said to be holding a watching brief. The Company has, indeed, ducked this particular trial, but its day will surely come and the lessons learnt here may prove useful to it for there is no doubt in my mind that the ecological war that the company has waged in the Delta will be called to question sooner than later and the crimes of that war be duly punished. The crime of the Company’s dirty wars against the Ogoni people will also be punished….
We all stand on trial, my lord, for by our actions we have denigrated our country and jeopardized the future of our children. As we subscribe to the sub-normal and accept double standards, as we lie and cheat openly, as we protect injustice and oppression, we empty our classrooms, denigrate our hospitals, fill our stomachs with hunger and elect to make ourselves the slaves of those who ascribe to higher standards, pursue the truth, and honour justice, freedom, and hard work. I predict that the scene here will be played and replayed by generations yet unborn. Some have already cast themselves in the role of villains, some are tragic victims, some still have a chance to redeem themselves. The choice is for each individual.

On 10th November 1995, Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists (collectively known as the Ogoni Nine today) were executed. Remember Ken Saro-Wiwa has the complete history, and is setting up a Living Memorial.
Over the years, Ken Saro-Wiwa has not been forgotten: his struggle and the struggle of the Ogoni people has been carried forward by hundreds of others. But Dr Owens Wiwa, Ken Saro-Wiwa’s younger brother, is asking for justice to be done, however belatedly: he wants Ken Saro-Wiwa formally exonerated.
“But when you kill an innocent person and brand him a murderer, (and) then tell the people that time has gone, let’s move forward, that is not only wrong, but they are taking us as less than human.”
The Nigerian government could make a big difference by acknowledging that the Ogoni Nine were not criminals, by admitting that Ken Saro-Wiwa and the other activists were casualties of the oil war. As for Shell, the company’s had ten years to think about the murder of Ken Saro-Wiwa: I know it’s a bit late, but this might be a good time for them to say they’re sorry.

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