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PROTESTING WOMEN CONTINUE OCCUPATION OF CHEVRON FLOW-STATIONS
Over three thousand protesting Ijaw women from the Gbaramatu Clan and other communities in the Niger Delta continue the direct occupation of Chevron's flow stations in Nigeria's Delta State.
In this special update, Environmental Rights Action (ERA), presents the voices of the protesting women speaking from the occupied Abiteye Flow Station.
Chevron has neglected us. They have neglected us for a long time. For example, any time spills occur, they don't do proper clean-up or pay compensation. Our roofs are destroyed by their chemical. No good drinking water in our rivers. Our fishes are killed on daily basis by their chemicals, even the fishes we catch in our rivers, they smell of crude oil. Chevron know the right thing to do, they intimidate us with soldiers, police, navy and tell us that cases of spill are caused by us. We are tired of complaining, even the Nigerian government and their Chevron have treated us like slaves. 30 years till now, what do we have to show by Chevron, apart from this big yard and all sorts of machines making noise, what do we have? They have been threatening us that if we make noise, they will stop production and leave our community and we will suffer, as if we have benefited from them. Before the 70s, when we were here without Chevron, life was natural and sweet, we were happy. When we go to the rivers for fishing or forest for hunting, we used to catch all sorts of fishes and bush animals. Today, the experience is sad. I am suggesting that they should leave our community completely and never come back again. See, in our community we have girls, small girls from Lagos, Warri, Benin City, Enugu, Imo, Osun and other parts of Nigeria here everyday and night running after the white men and staff of Chevron, they are doing prostitution, and spreading all sorts of diseases. The story is too long and too sad. When you go (to ERA) tell Chevron that we are no longer slaves, even slaves realise their condition and fight for their freedom.
-Voice of Mrs. Felicia Itsero, 67, mother and grandmother (translation from Ijaw by Ms. Fanty Waripai)
Our problem with Chevron stared on June 10 in our river. We sent a delegation to see Chevron and complain about our plight as a neglected oil producing community. Instead of Chevron to listen to us, the women, they phoned soldiers from Escravos tank farm. The soldiers who numbered up to 14, met us at the river and rough handled us. They destroyed 5 of our boats and wounded our people. We were tortured. When they saw that we were prepared to die, Chevron later called us and promised to listen to our demand. From that June 10, 2002, we waited and nothing was done. So on July 17, 2002, we decided to enter the Abiteye flow station and peacefully protest. Our demands are genuine, even the soldiers who Chevron sent to torture us can tell you that we are not violent, so nobody can use violence against us. We are mature people and we are protesting in a matured manner. Most times Chevron signed memoranda of understanding (MOU) with us and they refused to meet the conditions. Even the environmental problems from Chevron's facility are threatening us, and they have not done anything for our local fisher women. If you want to catch fish now, you really have to go into the deep sea and we don't have such equipment. In fact, I want to say that Chevron in insensitive and callous to our plight. Out problem is caused by them and we are now living in abject poverty. When we protest like this, they just give money to few greedy individuals and they think that they have solved the problems. We are prepared to die.
-Voice of Mrs. Lucky Murade, 30 year old and mother. (Translated from Pidgin English by ERA's Patrick Naagbanton)
Chevron is deceitful. They have deceived us several times and we know them better now. We won't leave this place till our demands are met.
-Voice of Mrs. Juliet Tomfawer, 39 years old and mother. (Translated from Pidgin English by ERA's Patrick Naagbanton)
We are women from Kenghangbene and other nearby communities. Kenghangbene hosts the Chevron flow-station (Abiteye). We are demonstrating here peacefully, not armed with anything except leaves. We are peaceful. We are occupying this facility because we are angry. We are angry because since 1970, the company came here, we have nothing to show for the pollution of our rivers and creeks, destruction of our forests and mangroves and the noise, and the gas flaring. We have complained and protested. All our complaints and protests fell on Chevron's deaf ears. We have nothing to show for this.. Look at my village from Warri to here, for an uninterrupted engine boat drive is about 2 hours, and we don't have clinic, no good drinking water, no road, no electricity and other necessities of life. Here, we have married women, unmarried women, and small girls. We have old women, young and small ones here demonstrating. Nobody mobilises us to do what we are doing. We are angry. We sleep here day and night. We are denied our rights as a people, to employment, good environment and so on. We will be here till Chevron answers our demands.
-Voice of Chief (Mrs) Josephine Ogoba, 48 year old and mother of 4 children. A leader of the protesting women..
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Tell ChevronTexaco and the Nigerian government you support the demands of the women and their communities for a safe and conducive environment necessary for their survival.
Tell ChevronTexaco and the Nigerian government to meet the women's demands for jobs for their children, economic support for education and health services, and economic support for fishing and poultry farming demands.
Tell ChevronTexaco and the Nigerian government you are aware of their past practice of relying on the mobile police and soldiers to violently attack protesters and that you demand a just and non-violent resolution.
CALL or FAX ChevronTexaco’s Overseas Petroleum Inc. Phone: 925 842 0333 Fax: 925 842 3886
For more information contact:
ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS ACTION/ FRIENDS OF THE EARTH (FoE, Nigeria) #214, Uselu-Lagos Road, P. O. Box 10577, Benin City, Nigeria Tel/Fax: + 234 52 600165 E-mail: [email protected]
Port Harcourt: # 13 Agudama Street, D-Line, Port Harcourt Tel: + 234 84 236365 E-mail: [email protected]
Lagos: # 1 Balogun Street, Ikeja E-mail: [email protected]
Project Underground www.moles.org 1916A Martin Luther King Jr. Way Berkeley, CA 94704 [email protected]
Project Underground supports communities resisting human rights abuses and environmental injustices perpetrated by the oil and mining industries. We amplify the voices and magnify the visibility of communities demanding their rights in the face of exploitative and devestating resource extraction. We do this through corporate campaigning, non-violent direct action, popular education and legal and technical support.
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