13th August 2002 Wari Delta State - Protest against Shell and Chevron/Texaco
On Thursday the 8th of August, 2002 we, over 3000 women from oil producing communities (Itsekiri, Ijaws and Ilajes) whose environment and livelihood have been destroyed by oil and gas exploitation activities went to thepremises of Shell and ChevronTexaco, some of the multinational oil companies carrying out oil and gas exploitation on our lands. Apart from placards calling on the oil companies to compensate us for gas flaming we were unarmed.
However, this peaceful protest was dramatically abused by the oil companies when they brought vehicles filled with soldiers and peration fire for fire policemen who immediately started beating, torturing and flogging us with horsewhips, guns and boots. Several canisters of tear-gas where fired at us, at close range, some of us ran into the bush.And the soldiers and policemen pursued us into the bush and water. At the end of the exercise Shell staff hospitalised at least 2 persons who were beaten into coma and several others were hospitalised in other various places that evening. As we speak, 2 women have not been found. Only their wrappers were seen floating on the river.
Our message to the oil companies is that since they have chosen an unorthodox means to deal with a non-violent and peaceful protest, we too are capable of dealing with them by employing unorthodox methods. We use this medium to give them 7 days ultimatum (beginning Sunday, August 11) within which to invite us for dialogue. They should take further notice that at the expiration of the 7 days (if they fail to heed the notice). We the women, our sons, brothers and husbands, shall go to the trenches against those tenants who now want to lord it over their landlords and they should be ready for the consequences of their actions
- An immediate end to gas flaring in our communities and payment of compensation for the pollution and gas flaring over the years.
- An end to divide and rule tactics by ChevronTexaco and Shell.
- Treatment for all those injured during our peaceful protest.
- For the oil companies to invite us for dialogue.
Mrs. Kate Ajabawa (Itsekiri)
Mrs. Rose Onila Jemimeyigbe (Ijaw)
Mrs. Bimpe Ebilene (Ilaje).
26th July 2002; Ijaw women reach accord with Chevron
After 4 days of intense negotiations, women protestors lift their seige of 4 flow stations. A memorandum of understanding was signed spelling out the conditions the oil company must meet in order to continue to operate peacefully. The memorandum included the following:
"In order to strengthen its relationship with the people of the communities, its neighbours and hosts in the swamp area of the company's (Chevron) Western operations, the company will continue to maintain open and continuous dialogue and consultations with accredited representatives of the communities, the local government and Delta State government on matters affecting this relationship.
"The company's core values support sustainable community development, local business development, training and skill acquisition (development) activities to enable the communities to take advantage of business and development opportunities."The company's employment and recruitment policy will deliberately ensure a fair and equitable representation of qualified indigenes from the communities in the company's workforce."
Chevron, in endorsing the MOU, stressed that it would remain committed to ensuring the safety of people and the environment as well as upholding the principles of the rule of law.A commitment to provide a conducive and trouble free atmosphere for Chevron and her numerous contractors to reciprocate the company's commitment to a sustainable and mutually beneficial relationship was also extracted from the leaders of the communities who took part in the negotiation.
23rd July: Women's Demands
Occupation of 4 key flow stations by Ijaw women continues with the women working in shifts of 200 at a time.
The women have made 5 demands to Chevron:
The oil companies should stop killing their sons for protesting peacefully for the right to work and have jobs
The pollution of farms and rivers should end and a clean up process begin immediately
The oil companies should begin to respect local customs and traditions by first of all negotiating with the traditional leaders and elders
Provision of clean water, electricity , health care, free education
The right to live in peace in their homeland away from military and political violence.
20th July, 2002
Delta Womens Protest Spreads
[We have] nothing to show for over 30 years of the companys existence.Lucky Lelekumo, spokeswoman for Ijaw activists. "We will no longer take this nonsense, this is the beginning of the trouble they have been looking for." Anunu Uwawah, Escravos protest organizer. The occupation of ChevronTexacos Escravos export terminal in the Niger Delta by over 600 unarmed women from surrounding affected communities has spread to at least four more ChevronTexaco flow-stations in the delta.
The multi-ethnic group of women, primarily Itsekiri and Ijaw, are demanding that the oil company fulfill its obligation to the communities to provide jobs and resources for education, water, electricity, a community centre and support for economic development. Ijaw women from communities approximately 80km from Escravos have taken over additional flow-stations.The Ijaw Youth Council occupied Chevrons Parabe I Platform in 1998 as a protest against the impacts of oil development in Operation Climate Change. That demonstration ended with the Nigerian military using Chevron helicopters to attack protesters resulting in two deaths and dozens of injuries.
19th July 2002
For the past 7 days, 600 women from villages surrounding the ChevronTexaco run Escravos oil terminal in the Niger Delta have non-violently taken over the facility to bring attention to their plight. The women are demanding jobs, education services, community services and economic investment in their communities from ChevronTexaco, which has repeatedly failed to follow-through on its commitments to communities.
Chevron Texaco extracts more than 400,000 barrels of oil per year from the Niger Delta. The vast majority is processed at the Escravos facility, which is also the site of ChevronTexacos gas processing facility. Communities around the facility have been plagued by oil spills which destroy their fishing economy, and flaring which causes acid rain, skin diseases, asthma and other negative health affects. Not only has the traditional economies been severely disrupted by oil operations, few jobs, economic opportunities or social services are realized in the affected areas.
In the past, ChevronTexaco has responded to demonstrations by relying on the military and police who have violently attacked demonstrations. ChevronTexaco has even provided access to its helicopters to the military to attack protesters.