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RARE U.S. VISIT: Nigerian anti-oil activist in Portland Nov. 15 + 16!!

Omoyele Sowore anti-oil activist from the Niger Delta, Nigeria - the other oil war.
Speaking in Portland November 15th-16th

Thursday, Nov. 16th at Portland State University downtown Portland, 6 pm at the Smith Center Ball Room

"The Niger Delta area is polluted, occupied and heavily militarized. People get killed on behalf of the major oil companies everyday, that cannot be right." - Omoyele Sowore, Niger Delta, Nigeria

ADDITIONAL SPEAKING EVENTS IN PORTLAND:
• Wednesday, Nov. 15th at Lewis and Clark in SW Portland, 7:30 pm at the Templeton Council Chambers.
• Thursday, Nov. 16th at Portland Community College / Sylvania in SW Portland. 11 am / Performing Arts Center.
• Also speaking in Olympia, Seattle, Walla Walla, and Eugene! Contact us for more information.

CONTACT: Brian,  brian---@---mountainrebel.net / 503-493-7495
Omoyele Sowere, Nigerian anti-oil activist, speaking in Cascadia mid-November
Omoyele Sowere, Nigerian anti-oil activist, speaking in Cascadia mid-November
Shell oil facility in Nigeria
Shell oil facility in Nigeria
Oil spill in farming area
Oil spill in farming area
Omoyele Sowore anti-oil activist from the Niger Delta, Nigeria
Speaking in Portland November 15th-16th

Thursday, Nov. 16th at Portland State University downtown Portland, 6 pm at the Smith Center Ball Room

ADDITIONAL SPEAKING EVENTS IN PORTLAND:
• Wednesday, Nov. 15th at Lewis and Clark in SW Portland, 7:30 pm at the Templeton Council Chambers.
• Thursday, Nov. 16th at Portland Community College / Sylvania in SW Portland. 11 am / Performing Arts Center.
• Also speaking in Olympia, Seattle, Walla Walla, and Eugene! Contact us for more information.

CONTACT: Brian Frank, brian—at—mountainrebel.net / 503-493-7495

SPONSORED BY: PSU's Students for Unity, Lewis and Clark's Students Engaged in Ecological Defense (SEED), PCC's Peak Oil Environmental Justice Task Force (POET), Global Exchange and others....


MORE INFORMATION:

"The Niger Delta area is polluted, occupied and heavily militarized. People get killed on behalf of the major oil companies everyday, that cannot be right." - Omoyele Sowore, Niger Delta, Nigeria

Omoyele Sowore is a Nigerian who has spent the last 15 years working to promote human rights and democracy in Nigeria, and to stop the militarization and violence that multinational oil companies have brought to his country. His career of resistance began in 1989, when he took part in student demonstrations protesting the conditions of an International Monetary Fund loan of $120 million for a Nigerian oil pipeline (which was also to reduce the number of universities in the country from 28 to just 5). He's been imprisoned eight times and tortured, but he remains committed.

Sowore speaks first hand about the destruction that US oil addiction is causing in Nigeria. Human rights groups estimate that in the last 10 years military factions acting on behalf of multinational oil companies have killed more than 2,000 people in the Niger Delta. Sowore recently brought his message to Ford Motor Company at their annual shareholders meeting where he told Bill Ford Jr. "Every gas-guzzler Ford builds runs on the blood of Nigerians."

"We've had supposed democracy for 6 and a half years and people still can't eat," he says. "Who has benefited? There's no basic health care. We don't have running water. We don't have electricity, no basic education. Right now, Nigeria is a leaking basket. Shell and Chevron are among the biggest corporations in the world and they have benefited only a few people, the clique that runs the country."

At demos, Omoyele Sowore makes sure to bring an extra pair of pants, toothpaste and a bar of soap -- and he never forgets his toothbrush. Although now 34, Sowore has been detained enough times during Nigeria's long struggle for democracy to know that these provisions can come in handy.

In 1992 at University of Lagos, Sowore led 2,000 students in protest against Nigeria's notorious kleptocracy. Police opened fire, killing seven. Sowore -- arrested, interrogated and beaten -- later found out his family too had been put under pressure. But he refused to back down against the struggle for decent education in his country, and was soon elected executive president of the university students union.

Currently abroad being treated for the effects of torture, Sowore is adamant he'll return to Nigeria. "Change will not come to Nigeria on a platter of gold," he insists. "If you want justice, you have to fight for it."

Background on the ongoing struggle in Nigeria

The execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists -Baribor Bera, Saturday Doobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbokoo, Barinem Kiobel, John Kpuinen, Paul Levura and Felix Nuate - on 10 November 1995 raised a storm of outrage across the world. Their deaths highlighted the suffering of the Ogoni people, one of many marginalized ethnic groups living in the oil-rich delta of the Niger River.

Ken Saro-Wiwa had fought for an end to the environmental damage that was turning his homeland into what he described as a "wasteland", endangering the people's health and livelihoods. Ten years later oil spills still blacken the land and pollute the waterways. Hundreds of gas flares burn day and night, filling the sky with soot and fumes. The diverse communities living among the oil flares continue to live in extreme poverty - 70% have to subsist on less than $1 a day.

The military government which executed Ken Saro-Wiwa and his eight companions was replaced in 1999 by a civilian government. Yet government security forces are still killing people and razing communities with impunity. Human rights defenders and journalists, including foreign television crews, have been harassed, detained and sometimes beaten for investigating oil spills or security forces violations. The federal government has rejected calls for independent and impartial inquiries into abuses by these forces, which operate under its direct control.

In every region of the world, Indigenous peoples face deeply entrenched racism and discriminatory laws and policies. Denied adequate protection of their right to live on and use the lands and territories vital to their cultural identity and their daily survival, Indigenous communities are often driven into extreme poverty and ill-health.

Recent events in the Niger Delta

On 4 February 2005, soldiers fired on protesters at Chevron's Escravos oil terminal on the coast of the western Niger Delta killing one man and injuring at least 30 others. Chevron Nigeria, the subsidiary that operates the terminal, said that the protesters were armed with guns, although none appeared to have been seized by the security forces or captured on video recordings of the incident.

The protestors were from Ugborodo, an Itsekiri community located within sight of the oil terminal. According to the community, the protest was over the company's failure to fulfill an agreement to provide jobs and development projects to the community.

The community has electricity for two hours a day from a generator installed at the villagers' cost. Chevron Nigeria provides water for three hours at a time, twice a day. Large numbers of youth from the community are unemployed. They complain that they face discrimination in hiring, a charge the company denies.

No thorough or independent inquiry into the incident has been carried out either by the government or by Chevron Nigeria. The company said it could not control the actions of the security forces in any way, and expressed no intention of taking immediate steps to avoid a recurrence.

Just two weeks later, at least 17 people were reported to have been killed and two women raped when soldiers raided the Ijaw community of Odioma, Bayelsa State. The attack was ostensibly to arrest members of an armed vigilante group suspected of killing four local councilors and eight others earlier that month. Members of this armed vigilante group were reported to have been recruited by a sub-contractor of Shell's subsidiary in Nigeria. The suspects were not captured but, over a period of a few days, around 80 per cent of the homes in Odioma were destroyed. Two of those killed, Balasanyun Omieh, a woman said to be 105 years old, and two-year-old Inikio Omieye, burned to death. Three people were reportedly shot dead. Many inhabitants fled the violence and did not return.

A Judicial Commission of Inquiry appointed by the State Governor of Bayelsa State to investigate the incidents submitted a report in June 2005 that has not yet been made public. No action is known to have been taken to determine the number or identity of those killed; to order the exhumation of graves; to investigate the responsibility of the security forces for deaths, injuries or the destruction of homes; or to bring to justice those suspected of human rights violations.

The oil-rich Niger Delta region of southern Nigeria has seen escalating conflict and violence in the last two decades. Oil revenues account for over 98 per cent of Nigeria's foreign exchange earnings. However, little of this wealth is distributed within the Niger Delta, or to the Nigerian people as a whole. Economic and social rights, such as the right to health and the right to an adequate standard of living, remain unfulfilled for many Nigerians.

Thousands died in mass killings when conflict erupted over control of oil in the late 1990s and again in 2003 and 2004. Growing numbers of human rights activists within the Niger Delta are holding the oil companies responsible for human rights violations by the Nigerian security forces - both those connected to oil operations and those committed to protect oil interests.

The information above is derived from educational materials produced by Amnesty International (www.Amnesty.org) and Global Exchange (www.GlobalExchange.org)

For more info contact Brian Frank
Cascadia Regional Independence from Oil Campaigner
Global Exchange ph. 503-493-7495
brian—at—mountainrebel.net.

phone: phone: 503-493-7495

Oil and gas demand starts here 01.Nov.2006 14:11

Dan

These are extremely important events, and anyone concerned with fossil fuel developments on the Coast should try to attend. Pass our thanks along to Mr. Sowore in advance for visiting Oregon.

Oregon is currently considering deepening its support of the global oil and gas industry by importing vast quantities of LNG (liquefied natural gas), and this event will certainly highlight why Oregonians should reject these developments, whose upstream impacts are demonstrably severe. LNG and oil are obviously different, but in Nigeria and other places the developments are related and supported by many of the same oil and gas corporate giants - particularly Shell and Chevron. Nigeria was recently the site of an LNG blast that killed several civilians. At a time when we should obviously be moving away from using these destructive (murderous) fossil fuels, Oregon is actively considering becoming the West Coast portal for LNG - the "new fossil fuel."

The LNG issue has caught many people's attention, and Mr. Sowore's visit should highlight how our existing patterns of consumption - not just these new developments - are having extreme, deadly impacts in Nigeria.

Portland Alliance looking for a reporter to interview Sowore 01.Nov.2006 21:21

Jennifer

If you or anyone you know would be interested in interviewing Sowore for an article for The Portland Alliance, Portland's oldest progressive paper, please contact mazza at theportlandalliance.org. It's extremely important that we get the word out on what's going on in Nigeria.