In a blunt display of corporate censorship, Chevron officials denied respected human rights activist and Niger Delta women’s leader Emem Okon and a global delegation including Justice In Nigeria Now from its annual Shareholder Meeting in Houston yesterday (picture credit: Rainforest Action Network’s Change Chevron campaign). The company, which is facing multiple lawsuits regarding its appalling record of abusing community rights in oil bearing regions of Nigeria and Ecuador, is never keen on hearing the truth. And in Nigeria, it has deployed shocking violence to suppress community activism.
12 years ago today, officials working for Chevron Nigeria made a fateful decision that shamed the company and led to the Bowoto v Chevron trial, which returns to the Court of Appeal in San Francisco this June.
On May 27 1998, villagers from Ilaje, a fishing community in the Niger Delta were occupying Chevron’s Parabe platform, in protest at the ongoing environmental devastation caused by the company’s gas flaring and oil spills in the sensitive local ecosystem. The protest was in its second day. It was led by activist Larry Bowoto and conducted peacefully. No oil workers had been hurt and no protesters from the village were armed. Chevron knew all of this. Internal company faxes and emails show that they were fully aware that the protesters posed a minimal danger.
So why did Chevron respond that day by sending in the notorious ‘kill-and-go’ police?
Why did Chevron then provide their own security forces to supervise the indiscriminate killing of two innocent protesters?
In June, the company will be forced into court once again in San Francisco, (close to the oil giant’s global headquarters), and held accountable by the plaintiffs and their lawyers from EarthRights International. We hope that Chevron will answer for their crimes and take responsibility for the grave consequences of their decisions.