Sierra Club of/du Canada

Environmental Rights are Human Rights
The Case of Ken Saro-Wiwa

"...We all stand before history. I and my colleagues are not the only ones on trial. Shell is on trial here... its day will surely come... there is no doubt in my mind that the ecological war the company has waged in the delta will be called to question... 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."

From a statement that Nigerian writer and environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa was prevented from reading during his 1995 trial.

February 2002 Update

Ken Saro-Wiwa was a determined thorn in the side of Nigeria's military government. He led a campaign against the exploitation and pollution of his native Ogoniland by the government and by the Shell Oil company.

The Nigerian dictatorship decided to remove the threat that Saro-Wiwa posed to its power. He was tried and convicted of murder on Oct. 31, 1995, by a military tribunal. Governments and citizens' organizations worldwide condemned the trial as unfair, and urged the Nigerian dictator, General Sani Abacha, to spare Saro-Wiwa's life. They were ignored.

On Friday, Nov. 10th, 1995, Saro-Wiwa and eight other minority rights campaigners were hanged in a prison surrounded by tanks and heavily-armed soldiers. His last words were: "Lord take my soul. The struggle continues."

Nigeria's people are poor, while its military rulers enrich themselves by plundering the country's oil wealth. Nigeria's failure to respect democratic rule, and the continued oppression of its citizens, resulted in the suspension of diplomatic ties between Canada and Nigeria in 1997.

The following links provide information on the state of environment and human rights in Nigeria:

1997, Sierra Club of Canada