ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS ACTION, NIGERIA, PROTESTS AGAINST USE OF VIOLENCE AGAINST UNARMED WOMEN IN PEACEFUL PROTESTS AGAINST OIL COMPANIES
SAY NO TO VIOLENCE AGAINST DELTA WOMEN
"We were just singing, we didn't
destroy anything. We were peaceful. The police and soldiers misbehaved.
Look at me, 7 armed soldiers pounced on me and reduced me to nothing.
I found myself in a Shell clinic, a day after the protest."
-Mrs Alice Youwuren (widow), 50 years old mother of 7.Ugwagwu Community, Itsekiri.
"The rivers they are polluting is our life and death.
We depend on it for everything. When this situation became unbearable,
we decided to come together to protest. Ijaw, Itsekiri and Ilaje
we are one, we are brothers and sisters, it is only people who don't understand
that think we are fighting ourselves".
-Mrs. Bimpe Ebi, 34 years old mother of 5. From Awoye Community in Ilaje.
"We insisted on dialogue with the oil companies,
but the soldiers refused and started kicking us with their boots, they
flogged us, they wounded us. As I am talking to you, 3 of our women are
still missing. As we are disgraced this way, those of us remaining
will go there and let them kill us. We don't want Shell, Chevron,
Texaco or any of the oil companies again".
-Mrs. Rose Miebi (Widow), 36 years old, mother of six children, an Ijaw.
WOMEN CONTINUE PROTEST AGAINST OIL VIOLENCE
In the past weeks, oil-bearing communities in the western flank of the Niger Delta have been witnessing a rising tempo of resistance to the violence of the oil and gas industry. The protests are being organised by women whose local industries such as fishing and farming and livelihood have been destroyed by transnational oil companies, ChevronTexaco and Shell. From July 8, when women from Itsekiri communities occupied Chevron's oil terminal, more women from the Gbaramatu, Egbema and Urhobo communities have blockaded Chevron flow stations in Delta State as the wave of women protests spread.
The impoverished women, long neglected and forced to bear the burden of dwindling harvest and income are now demanding for a clean environment conducive for survival, jobs for their children, hospitals, safe drinking water and support for livelihood ventures such as poultry farming.
UNITING FOR JUSTICE
In the past, there have been reports of communal conflicts involving the different ethnic groups in the Warri area of Delta State, as the oil companies and the state benefit from "divide and rule". But on August 8, hundreds of women from the Itsekiri, Ijaw and Ilaje ethnic groups united to march to western operational headquarters of two major oil and gas producing companies in the country - Shell and ChevronTexaco. As early as 6.30am, the protesting women who were armed with placards and green leaves sang solidarity songs to protest years of plunder of their natural environment by the European and US oil companies. Their mission was to barricade the gates of the companies to compel them to stop the flaring of dangerous gasses.
But in a characteristic manner, armed soldiers and mobile policemen of the "Operation Fire-for-Fire", invited by Shell unleashed raw terror on the women. Scores of them were seriously injured as soldiers used wire whips on the women and "kicked them like football". 4 soldiers and 3 mobile policemen who attacked her beat Mrs. Alice Youwuren, a Widow and mother of 7 from Ugwagwu-Itsekiri community to a state of unconsciousness. She was admitted at Shell Clinic at Ogunu in Warri.
Other women jumped into a nearby stream to escape from
the melee. The women say 3 of them have not been found since then.
NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT MUTE
AS WOMEN VOW TO CONTINUE PROTESTS.
The government of Nigeria have maintained a total silence to the women protests and the action of their security forces, despite the calls by the women for government intervention.
Speaking to leaders of government sponsored National Council of Women Societies who visited Warri from Abuja on August 13, a spokesperson for the protesting women said the women will continue the protests until the Nigerian government and the oil companies create the condition for the discussion their demands, which include an immediate end to gas flaring and payment of compensation for the years of pollution and destruction by transnational oil and gas companies.
"KILL AND GO" POLICE
With the last action of the oil companies and the Nigerian security forces, there are fears that the oil companies and the state will deploy more troops to brutalise or kill the women as they continue their protests.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
a.. Continue to tell ChevronTexaco, Shell and the Nigerian government you support the demands of the women and their communities for a safe and conducive environment necessary for their survival.
b. Continue to tell ChevronTexaco, Shell and the Nigerian government to meet the women's demands for jobs for their children, support for education and health services, and economic support for fishing and poultry farming demands.
c. Tell ChevronTexaco, Shell and the Nigerian government you condemn their practice of relying on the mobile police and soldiers to violently attack women protesters and that you demand a just and non-violent resolution. d. Support the demand of the women that their wounded be treated by the Nigerian government, ChevronTexaco and Shell.
Federal Republic of Nigeria
The Managing Director
2 Chevron Drive
Lekki Peninsula, Lagos, Nigeria
Fax: +234 1 2600395
The Managing Director
21/22 Marina, Lagos, Nigeria
Fax: 234 1 2636681
In the United States CALL or FAX ChevronTexaco Overseas
Phone: 925 842 0333 Fax: 925 842 3886
ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS ACTION/ FRIENDS
OF THE EARTH (FoE, Nigeria) + Oilwatch Africa.
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