Joe Westby, Demand Dignity Corporate Campaigner, Amnesty International
At the end of April, Amnesty International joined together with Nigerian activists and communities for a global week of action to highlight the catastrophic impact of oil pollution on human rights in the Niger Delta. We made sure that the oil company Shell heard our message loud and clear: Own up, pay up and clean up the Niger Delta.
The week reached a climax when representatives from oil-affected communities and civil society groups staged a protest march to Shell’s office in Port Harcourt in the Niger Delta. Our Nigeria Campaigner Makmid Kamara, who took part in the event, said:
“The protest was very peaceful, though there was a heavy police presence. Shell employees came outside to watch as protesters danced and sang to protest songs while displaying banners and placards. The head of Nigerian NGO Social Action read a joint statement signed by several civil society groups and the communities, who have long campaigned for an end to pollution and a proper clean up.” Read Makmid’s blog about the event.
The protest march was a fitting end to a week in which thousands of Amnesty International supporters in over 16 countries, including Shell’s home states the UK and Netherlands, voiced their anger over the human rights impacts of Shell’s operations in the Niger Delta. The protests and campaigning showed Shell that as long as the company continues to fail to properly address pollution, people in the Niger Delta will continue to stand up for their rights – and activists around the world will stand with them.
At the start of the week, Makmid visited the community of Bodo, which was devastated by two massive oil spills in 2008 – read Makmid’s account of his visit to Bodo. The following day, we released new evidence showing that the first Bodo spill was far worse than Shell previously admitted. Many members of the Bodo community joined the protest march.
Check out our slideshow with great photos of activities during the week, including the protest march in Port Harcourt, demonstrations in Spain, Thailand and Togo, ‘clean up’ stunts at Shell petrol stations in Czech Republic, Germany, and Sweden, and an event for Earth Day Tokyo.
There was also a huge response to the campaign online. Supporters inundated Shell with messages, forcing the company to respond on its social media platforms. Today is Shell’s annual shareholder meeting, and we are keeping the pressure on through more online activism – follow the action on Twitter and Facebook, and sign our petition to Shell CEO Peter Voser.