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Save the Waikato River- Dump the Dump


Save the Waikato River- Dump the Dump


10.30am This Saturday August 19th Shell Oil Petrol Station opposite Hamilton Courthouse Anglesea Street

(called by the Socialist Workers Organisation)

This Saturday, activists who marched on last month's Dump the Dump Hikoi will picket Shell Oil petrol stations in Hamilton, to bring attention to the role the oil company is playing behind Envirowaste's proposed development. The picket will call for a mass boycott of Shell Oil by Waikato people concerned at the health and ecological consequences of building Aotearoa's largest Megadump 500 metres from the Waikato river. Shell NZ owns 35.4 million shares in Fulton Hogan, who will control 50% of Envirowaste's Megadump.

Last month's DUMP THE DUMP Hikoi marched through Rangiriri, Huntly and Taupiri, in a seven and a half hour trek across the Waikato that saw its numbers swell from 20 to 200. Led by the "Dump Metrowater" Fire engine of Auckland's Water Pressure Group, it united Tainui Maori with local environmentalists, the Green Party, the SWO and individuals outraged at the possible ecological destruction of the Waikato river.

There were emotive scenes when the Hikoi entered Ngarawhahia Council Chambers, where Waikato District Mayor Angus Mc Donald and his cohorts faced a roasting from the determined and furious marchers. "Once this Dump goes through, there is no going back. Future generations will look back on this Council and ask the question- why? Who were these men who allowed the river to be poisoned? You already have a disaster on your hands with the leachate entering the river from Huntly. " said Hikoi organiser Wendy Finlayson, who is taking the Council to court in Hamilton on September the 4th.

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"It's apparent you have ignored the wishes of the people of the Waikato", added Penny Bright of the Water Pressure Group- "and when politicians ignore the wishes of the people, then the only language they understand is when we take matters into our own hands. If this Dump is not cancelled, civil disobedience and direct action is both justified and necessary" she said to rousing cheers.

There were 324 submissions against the MegaDump, and only four for. Campaigners fear, however, that the forces of profit have had more influence over the local council than the concerns of the people. EnviroWaste and its backers, Fulton Hogan and the Shell Oil Company, stand to make a $2 billion fortune from their "waste management" operation if this MegaDump goes through. The Hikoi was adamant that this was a battle of people against profit, planet against pollution, the beginning of a united struggle against some very powerful interests. They were also shocked at the local council's lack of consultation, sharing of information or regard for local democracy, and the SWO is demanding that a local referendum be held to overturn the Councils decision.

The Dump the Dump campaign is now looking for wider support, especially in Auckland whose major water supply pipeline will come just 2km downstream from the Dump in 2002. The Socialist Workers Organisation in Hamilton are actively building for a demonstration in the city on Sept 4th, when the matter will be taken to Hamilton Courthouse, and urges all to attend.

Further info contact Joe C 025 6048955 or c/o Fightback @ Waikato Students Union

Additional reading: Shell On Earth by Joe Carolan, SWO

"Neither imprisonment nor death can stop our ultimate victory. I repeat that we all stand before history. I and my colleagues are not the only ones on trial. Shell is here on trial and it is as well that it is represented by counsel said to be holding a watching brief.....there is no doubt in my mind that the ecological war that the company has waged in the Delta will be called to question sooner than later and the crimes of that war be duly punished."

- Ken Saro-Wiwa, 1995.

The Dump the Dump Hikoi last month raised concerns in the Waikato about the power of Big Business and its ability to bypass local people, both Pakeha and Maori, in a pursuit that puts profit before democracy, and pollution before planet. There are concerns that one of the major backers of the MegaDump project may be a well known multinational oil company. ....looks at a similar case of indigenous people against pollution in Africa, and of one oil company's infamous involvement in the kangaroo court trial and execution of a Nobel Prize for Literature nominated poet.

In 1991, The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), founded by poet and writer Ken Saro-Wiwa, resolved to use all peaceful, legitimate and non-violent means to secure social and environmental justice for the indigenous Ogoni people of Nigeria. On November 10, 1995, after 17 months in custody, and a trial that was universally condemned as being a sham, Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists were hanged by a military court in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Their only crime was their success in exposing the Shell Petroleum Company's role in destroying their land, their society, and their people.

In the weeks following Saro-Wiwa's execution, Shell mounted a global public relations blitz. Seeking to portray critics as paranoid radicals, one ad read: "The world in which companies use their influence to prop up or bring down governments would be a frightening and bleak one indeed". Advertising hacks looking through rose tinted glasses at the world's most profitable corporation may consider this statement paranoid - but for the billions of people around the world who are disenfranchised from power, who continue to suffer the impacts of the globalisation of trade, and their loss of local control, who lack the millions of dollars of corporate money required to win elected office, or the control of the US media by a handful of mega-corporations, this statement reflects reality. For the people of Colombia who have watched BP hire whole battalions of their military, or the people of the Congo Republic who watched 4 years ago as their President was ousted because he dared to challenge Elf Aquitane's monopoly on his country's oil, ours is, indeed, a frightening and bleak world.

Shell's well-financed campaigns across the world cannot hide the disaster it is perpetrating in the Niger Delta. Nigeria's major oil-producing states, Rivers and Delta, suffer about 300 major oil spills a year (often covering several miles) which discharge about 2,300 cubic metres of oil each time. A World Bank Study ("Defining an Environmental Development Strategy for the Niger Delta, 1995") estimates that as much as 76 per cent of all the natural gas from Petroleum production in Nigeria is flared compared to 0.6 per cent in USA, 4.3 per cent in the UK, 21.0 per cent in Libya. The flaring is a serious hazard. At temperatures of 1,300 to 1,400 degrees centigrade, the multitude of flares in the Delta heat up everything, causing noise pollution, and producing carbon dioxide, nitrous oxides and particulates around the clock. Shell now admits that the Delta region suffers acid rain once a month. The emission of CO2 from gas flaring in Nigeria releases 35 million tons of CO2 a year and 12 million tons of methane, which means that Nigerian oil fields contribute more in global warming than the rest of the world together. This destruction can be seen as a huge arc of light at night from space.

While degrading the environment and abusing human rights, Shell and the other Petroleum multinationals in Nigeria firmly oppress resistance against their misdeeds. Environmental activism in Nigeria has thus become as hazardous as the environment of the Niger Delta. Ken Saro-Wiwa was not the only environmental activist charged with murder. Professor Jaja Ohinwa, a former Vice-Chancellor and spokesperson for the Obagi community in Rivers State, was also charged with murder and detained. He was lucky to escape with the dismissal from his university appointment. Over two thousand ordinary Ogoni have not been so lucky, their dumped and mutilated bodies found on polluted land, murdered by military deathsquads.

The privatisation of the Nigerian state is evident in the swarm of police men and women in Shell residential headquarters and offices supposedly securing Shell; the presence of armed troops in the operational bases of the company, and the willingness of Shell and other oil companies to call on the police and the military for their security. In 1989, Shell called in the Mobile Police Force into Umuechem where it was having problems withthe community and blood was shed. By official accounts, 15 people were shot in the single operation but newspaper reports indicate the death toll of about 80 persons. Shell are the major backers of the military dictatorship that has suppressed democracy for the last 8 years in Africa's most populous country.

Shell uses field operatives (the "Shell Police") to manipulate and divide communities. Despite repeated categorical denials, Shell now reluctantly and with qualification admits to both paying the military and importing weapons. We know that two of the prosecution witnesses at Saro-Wiwa's trial have subsequently signed sworn statements indicating that they were bribed by both the Nigerian military and Shell to testify against Saro-Wiwa. We know now, as we did then, that Shell is guilty whilst the Ogoni Nine were innocent.

Empowered and inspired by the Ogoni example, other communities in the Delta have been pressing their case. The Ijaw - the fourth largest ethic group in Nigeria, from whose land comes a majority of the country's oil - have been seizing Shell flowstations and local government centers. Around the world expatriate Nigerians and their supporters are building a movement to free Africa's most populous country from military repression and the corporate power that makes it possible.

The Ogoni are not forgotten. We also know today that the Ogoni are not alone. The Amungme in Indonesia, the U'wa of Colombia, the Nahua of Peru, the Warao of Venezuela, the Karen of Burma, the Dineh of Arizona, and to some extent all of us are victims of corporate power. The justice that Saro-Wiwa sought is still elusive, but the intensity of his vision is now shared by millions. They can't hang us all.

In Remembrance: Baribor Bera, Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbokoo, Barinem Kiobel, John Kpuinen, Paul Levura, Felix Nuate and Ken Saro-Wiwa. In Solidarity: Activists in prison or under detention and duress in Ogoni, in Nigeria, and around the world. It is time for urgent ACTION. Save the lives of the Ogoni people. Inform your friends. Get this issue known via media, organizations, unions etc. ....Boycott Shell!

by Ken Saro Wiwa

Dance your anger and your joys
Dance the military guns to silence
Dance their dumb laws to the dump
Dance oppression and injustice to death
Dance the end of Shells ecological war of 30 years
Dance my people for we have seen tomorrow
and there is an Ogoni star in the sky

"Shell, Shell, go to Hell
And take your stinking dump as well!"
-protestor on the Dump the Dump Hikoi last month

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