Published: Saturday 15 February 1997

The spirit of Ken Saro-Wiwa still lives on in Ogoniland and so does the spectre of Royal Dutch Shell, the petrochemicals giant. According to the movement for the survival of the Ogoni people (mosop) leader Ledum Mitee, crackdown by the Nigerian military over the past year in Ogoniland has assumed "frightful proportions". The Ogonis have been accusing Shell of destroying the Niger delta, threatening the survival of indigenous peoples and assisting oppressive military operations. To quell the protests, on January 4, 1996, military authorities had hanged Ken Saro-Wiwa, the Ogoni leader.

To prevent commemorating the day as Ogoni Day, several executions and raids were conducted on 21 Ogoni tribes. Following this, Mitee said in a recent statement, "I hereby call on all Ogonis to resist to the last person any attempts by the company to stage a forced and/or forged return to Ogoniland until our demands are met." The demands are increasingly gaining worldwide support as mosop is actively networking with communities threatened by Shell, like the Machiguengas in the Peruvian Amazon where Shell plans a gas project.

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