Responses to MOSOP Request for Action:
May 29, 2007
Dear H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, H.E. Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, Mr. Sunday Ehindero, and Governor Sir Peter Odili:
We, the Garifuna Emergency Committee of Honduras, are an internationally recognized grassroots organization in Central America, with membership in the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Through this network, we formed a lasting alliance with the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), which does so much to protect the rights of the vulnerable Ogoni people in Nigeria.
Thus, we are deeply concerned about recent reports of threats to the lives of members of MOSOP. We expect 1) that your government will take immediate action to protect the lives and human rights of all members of MOSOP, particularly Bariara Kpalap, Information Officer; Legborsi Pyagbara, International Advocacy Officer; and Ledum Mitee, President; 2) that your government will undertake a full investigation of the violence and threats; and 3) that you respect and protect the rights of the Ogoni people and of MOSOP, ensuring that MOSOP as a representative of the Ogoni is heard and respected in any decisions affecting the Ogoni People.
As reported by MOSOP, we understand that at least four unidentified gunmen broke into the Port Harcourt residence of Mr. Bari-ara Kpalap, the Information Officer of MOSOP at about 2 am on Saturday, May 19, 2007. After beating Baridi Kpalap, Bariara Kpalap's spouse, and harassing of their children at gunpoint, the gunmen departed in the absence of Mr. Kpalap, threatening to return for him. A few days prior to this incident, there were threats against the lives of Mr. Kpalap, Mr. Ledum Mitee, and Mr. Legborsi Pyagbara. These incidents were reported to the police, underlining the importance of an immediate and comprehensive investigation.
MOSOP believes that these incidents are driven by a desire to silence MOSOP's opposition to the so-called "Ogoni Peace Process," facilitated by Reverend Father Matthew Hassan Kukah. MOSOP lost faith in the Kukah Process when it appeared that Rev. Kukah was advocating a pre-determined outcome that included the return of Shell Oil to Ogoniland. After issuing several statements of concern regarding the imbalances and lack of transparency of the process, including Rev. Kukah's failure to convene a meeting of critical stakeholders, MOSOP formally withdrew from the process in September 2006, calling for the government to replace Rev. Kukah as a facilitator. Instead, at the end of February 2007, MOSOP was forced to challenge media reports credited to Reverend Kukah, in which he allegedly gave the impression that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) would soon be signed between the Federal Government, Rivers State Government, Shell, the UN Environmental Program (UNEP) and the
Ogoni People to approve a Shell-funded clean-up of the Ogoni environment by UNEP, and to facilitate Shell's return to the area to commence oil production. More recently, Rev. Kukah was involved in organizing an interdenominational church service, at which a similar Memorandum of Understanding was to be signed, until MOSOP and multiple church leaders intervened. MOSOP has refused to consider any Memorandum, failing an open and sincere dialogue with the government. Similarly, MOSOP is concerned that UNEP will unwittingly support a deeply problematic clean-up effort by Shell, intended primarily to secure an ongoing oil concession without the consent of the Ogoni People.
We are a non-governmental organization, the Garifuna Emergency Committee of Honduras, and know full well the importance of open, transparent, honest, credible and participatory processes in resolving controversial disputes. We recall not only the sacrifices Garifuna activists have made in Honduras but also, the torture and executions of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, on 10 November 1995, following their non-violent efforts to protect the indigenous Ogoni People from human rights and environmental abuses associated with the oil industry in the Niger Delta. We take very seriously the threats against the lives of current leaders of MOSOP, and call on you to take all possible steps to ensure the safety and unimpeded action of these leaders. Finally, we ask you to keep us inform on the measures taken.
The Garifuna Emergency Committee of Honduras
See attached letter below from APRODEH: