Sir, Ken Saro Wiwa, my brother, was murdered in a Nigerian jail last year because he was a vocal - and effective - environmentalist dedicated to cleaning up the devastation from Shell's exploitation in the Ogoni region. He was a man of peace whose only crime was opposing the racist standard of the Shell group in their dealings with Sub Saharan Africa.
Contrary to their claims, my brother was never a political threat to the Nigerian state. He never thought of secession, he defended his country when it mattered most during the secessionist war of Biafra, he was at the Nigerian frontside taking care of refugees. Because of Ken's antipathy to that war, at the age of 10 years, I spent eight months in a Biafran military prison with my other brothers and sisters - and also our mother. It is instructive that Mr Ojukwu (the Biafran secessionist leader) whose appetite for oil resources "wasted one million innocent lives is now one of General Abacha's advisers.
But Ken was a threat to Shell's profits at Ogoni expense. He wanted the pipelines of death which threaten our homes, ruin - our fields, contaminate our drinking water - put underground or removed. He wanted to prevent the overwhelming incidences of "lung cancer, asthma and bronchitis which I struggled to treat. He wanted to stop what he called the "ecological war" against the Ogoni; the "slow genocide" where there's little blood spilled but the deaths continue.
Shell's reaction to my brother's pleas for environmental justice was to respond not to his concerns but to him. On January 4th, 1993, 300,000 Ogoni people protested non violently against the environmental devastation caused by Shell. The non violent nature of the march showed the quality of Ken Saro Wiwa's leadership and the discipline of the Ogoni people. On February 16th 1993 Shell headquarters in London and the Hague decided to monitor Ken's activities, as documented in a memo. Just 16 days later, Ken was arrested for the first time. It took four more arrests (and releases when trumped up charges would not stick) to succeed in the company's ultimate goal: the final censorship of our protector and my dearest friend.
We have affidavits from two prosecution witnesses saying they were bribed and threatened by Shell representatives to give false witness against Ken during his trial. Shell had a lawyer in court throughout the trial, a lawyer who was a close friend of the tribunal chairman and who, as attorney general of Rivers State in 1990 had dismissed a judicial inquiry urging prosecution of security officers for the death of 80 Umuechem people killed when Shell called in the mobile police to quell non violent protest. A military officer on Shell's payroll, Lt Co Paul Okuntimo, was also present at the tribunal to ensure that those bribed said what they were told to say or be in his threats "wasted".
How implicated is Shell in my brother's death? At the least, the company could have used its enormous influence to prevent, his death; oil accounts for 80 per cent of Nigeria's export income - and Shell pumps more than 900,000 barrels a day from the delta. It is absurd for Shell to claim it is not involved in supporting the government when their memos document the company requesting military "assistance as usual" - or when my patients reported seeing troops transported on Shell river boats. These troops, who were transported across the Andoni river armed with weapons bought by Shell, massacred hundreds of Ogonis and destroyed several villages. Shell and the illegal military dictatorship in Nigeria called these action "ethnic clashes" to the world. I personally saw a Shell hired helicopter involved in one such military action.
Ken predicted he would be silenced. In October 1993 he told me that the only way Shell could get at him would be to frame a murder charge against him. He believed that his reputation as a man of peace and his commitment to non violence would make it difficult.
Shell says that we are a violent organisation. Nothing could be further from the truth. I ask you, if we were a violent organisation then why is it that over 2,000 Ogoni people are dead today, and not one person from Shell or the Nigerian military has died? When my brother was killed over 100,000 Ogoni people decided to defy a military ban on mourning and gather peacefully wearing black: the result was six more people killed by the Nigerian military. My brother understood and taught all of us that although the non violent path is longer, it is our only hope in the end. We still dedicate ourselves to nonviolence.
Our only weapon is to call for a consumer boycott of Shell products and to press for an embargo against all Nigerian oil. This, we believe, is the most effective way of breaking the evil alliance between Shell and the brutal Abacha dictatorship which kills writers, jails journalists and stifles democracy. The oil you are buying, people are dying for it.
I have been asked if I realise how much it would cost to put Shell's corroded pipelines below ground; miles of pipes criss crossing the Niger Delta would reach from London to New York if put end to end. But whatever amount it costs is not worth the life of my brother - or of the thousands of Ogonis dying slowly from oil pollution. I believe Shell's money is blood money. Yours, etc.,