Shell Finally Bending Under Pressure
Responding to pressure from the Ogoni community in Nigeria and mushrooming international condemnation, Shell has announced it has a plan to clean up oil spills in Ogoniland and restart local development projects. This is a first step for Shell living up to its responsibility to the Ogoni people, said Stephen Mills, the Sierra Club Human Rights and Environmental Campaign director and organizer of the Club's boycott of Shell. But we remain skeptical until the plan is made available to the public. And we demand that Shell end its collaboration with the brutal Nigerian military.
Shell's announcement came just prior to its May 15 annual meeting in The Hague and London, where large groups of protesters rallied. The Sierra Club also sponsored a May 15 rally in Washington, D.C., supporting the boycott and calling attention to Sen. Nancy Kassebaum's (R-Kan.) hearings on Nigeria. In the months following the Nov. 10, 1995, execution of Nigerian environmental and human rights leader Ken Saro-Wiwa, the Sierra Club and other organizations have been promoting a boycott of Shell Oil for both polluting Nigeria and failing to use its considerable influence to stop the execution of Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists. Shell had shut down its Ogoni oil drilling operations three years ago, leaving environmental devastation in its wake.
The fight to boycott Shell and pressure Nigeria is building momentum. Led by volunteers Linda Modica and Arthur Smith, Club protesters in Kingsport and Jonesborough, Tenn., picketed Shell gas stations on Earth Day. In May, the Oakland, Calif., City Council unanimously passed an ordinance restricting the city's deposit, investment or use of city funds with banks, investment firms or professional services doing business in Nigeria.
The Club has also mailed "Boycott Shell Oil, Embargo Nigeria" fact sheets and postcards to Shell President Philip Carroll and "Boycott Shell" bumper stickers to all chapters and groups. Thousands of consumers have already expressed their opposition through letters, faxes and phone calls to Shell.
To take action: Contact the president of Shell Oil Company, Philip J. Carroll, P.O. Box 2463, Houston TX 77252; (800)248-4257, fax (713)241-4044. Tell him that you will boycott Shell's products until it cleans up its environmental mess in Nigeria and compensates the Ogoni people for past damage. If you have a Shell credit card, cut it up and send it back with your letter. Urge your senators and representatives to support S.1419 and H.R.2697, bills to impose sanctions against Nigeria. For more information: contact Stephen Mills in the Sierra Club's Washington D.C. office at (202)675-6691.
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