BRITISH COLUMBIA — The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has nominated Shell Oil to receive the minister's environmental award for 1997. Shell was one of four oil companies that WWF nominated because the companies gave up their marine exploration rights in Gwaii Haanas in the South Moresby region of Haida Gwaii, (on the Queen Charlotte Islands in British Columbia).
Activists in British Columbia are concerned that, as the World Wildlife Fund was filling in the forms for this nomination, 19 Ogoni activists were probably being tortured in a Nigerian jail for protesting against Shell's extraction of oil from their homelands and threatening the survival of their people. These activists face the possibility of execution if the international community does not condemn Shell Oil.
According to the report, circulated on the internet last week, Shell will use its nomination to rebuild its shattered reputation while the Ogoni are tortured and displaced. If Shell wins this award, it will have a direct impact on the suffering of the Ogoni activists in jail.
The Nigeria prisoners are colleagues of Ken Saro-Wiwa, winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize for Africa and nominee for a Nobel Peace Prize. Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists were executed by the military dictatorship in Nigeria in November 1995 for leading a peaceful protest against Shell Nigeria's destruction of Ogoni land.
The report urges environmentalists to follow the lead of the Georgia Strait Alliance. Before Shell's activities in Nigeria were widely known, the alliance received a $5000 grant from Shell Canada for public education displays. Immediately after the nine Ogoni activists were executed, it sent the money back.
Forty per cent of the Nigerian dictatorship's revenue is derived from Shell. Shell Canada's stocks are 78% owned by Shell UK and Royal Dutch Shell — the international parent company which decided to continue oil exploration in Nigeria despite the Nigeria military's human rights abuses. If Shell Canada receives an environmental award, the report says, "we will in effect be rewarding the actions of Shell UK and Royal Dutch Shell".
The report urges solidarity for the 19 Ogoni activists currently facing death in Nigeria. It urges that Monte Hummel, executive director of WWF Canada, be asked to withdraw the nomination (email: MHUMMEL@WWFCANADA.ORG), and that the WWF and other environment groups be urged to refuse funding grants from Shell while it remains in Nigeria.