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AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL SAYS SHELL UNDERSTOOD THE RISKS OF CALLING FOR MILITARY INTERVENTION IN THE NIGER DELTA

The police officers, using guns and grenades, killed 80 people…

Extract from pages 8 & 9 of an Amnesty International document headed: “A CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE? SHELL’S INVOLVEMENT IN HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN NIGERIA IN THE 1990s”

Under Executive Summary.

SHELL UNDERSTOOD THE RISKS OF CALLING FOR MILITARY INTERVENTION

There is irrefutable evidence that Shell knew that the Nigerian security forces committed grave violations when they were deployed to address community protests. The company knew the risks since at least 1990, when Shell called for the assistance of a paramilitary police unit to deal with peaceful protestors at Umuechem village, also in the Niger Delta. According to an official enquiry, the police descended on the community, “like an invading army that had vowed to take the last drop of the enemy’s blood.” The police officers, using guns and grenades, killed 80 people.

It is clear from both public statements and internal company documents that at least from this point on Shell executives knew and understood the risks associated with calling for the intervention of the security forces in dealing with protestors. This was well before the ISTF launched its operation in May 1994. For example, an internal Shell memo dated 23 February 1993 reveals that senior Shell staff worried that calling for a “military presence…will attract a potential confrontation which may have catastrophic results.”

These risks were confirmed by three other incidents involving protestors in 1992-3: the death of a man and injury of several others on Bonny Island in July 1992 after Shell airlifted a “Rapid Intervention Force” comprising paramilitary police to the location; and the two incidents mentioned earlier, when soldiers shot local people along the pipeline in April and May 1993. By February 1994, Shell had had further confirmation – if it was needed – of the specific risks associated with the army, when the ISTF, commanded by Major Paul Okuntimo, shot at thousands of peaceful protestors outside the main gate the Shell HQ in Port Harcourt, injuring several of them.

SOURCE

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