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AFRIK-IT  November 1995

AFRIK-IT November 1995

Subject:

PRESS RELEASE - NIGERIA

From:

David Lush - MISA <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

African Network of IT Experts and Professionals (ANITEP) List

Date:

Mon, 13 Nov 1995 18:00:00 GMT+0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (96 lines)

PRESS RELEASE
NOVEMBER 13, 1995
ISSUED BY THE MEDIA INSTITUTE OF SOUTHERN AFRICA (MISA)
 
 
MISA CALLS FOR ISOLATION OF NIGERIAN REGIME FOLLOWING EXECUTION OF WRITER
KEN SARO-WIWA
 
Following the decision of the heads of government meeting New Zealand to
suspend Nigeria from the Commonwealth for two years, the Media Institute of
Southern Africa (MISA) calls on African governments to take a united stand
to ensure the complete isolation of the despotic Nigerian regime of General
Sani Abacha.
 
As the execution of writer Ken Saro-Wiwa on Friday again proves, the
current illegitimate Nigerian government has no qualms whatsoever about
wantonly abusing the fundamental human rights of the Nigerian people. In so
doing, General Abacha's government is displaying the same brutal tendencies
of apartheid regimes in South Africa of old; regimes which also had little
regard for freedom of expression and other internationally-recognised
rights.
 
This is ironic considering the role Nigeria played in international
campaign against apartheid. Like past minority regimes in South Africa, the
Nigerian government seems to care little about international opinion.
Otherwise, why should the Nigerian government have ignored the worldwide
call for the life of Saro-Wiwa and his colleagues to be spared, and have
carried out their execution to coincide with the Commonwealth conference?
 
The time for diplomacy and negotiations are over. There is now a need to
isolate General Abacha's regime, and force it to submit to the democratic
will of the Nigerian people, in the same way that apartheid South Africa
was forced to change. African nations must take a lead in isolating
Nigeria, just as we did in the campaign against apartheid.
 
In the memory of Ken Saro Wiwa, and in solidarity with oppressed Nigerian
journalists and media organisations, MISA calls on media workers throughout
Africa and beyond to continue highlighting to the best of their
professional ability the human rights abuses currently taking place in
Nigeria. MISA further urges its chapters throughout southern Africa to
protest against the execution of Saro-Wiwa by demonstrating at Nigerian
diplomatic missions in the region, and to put pressure on their respective
governments to sever all diplomatic ties with Nigeria.
 
 
BACKGROUND
 
Nigerian author and minority rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa was sentenced to
death on October 31 1995 after being convicted - together with eight others
- of inciting the murder of four Ogoni leaders. They were tried by three
members of a military-appointed tribunal which fell far below international
standards of law.
 
Saro-Wiwa and his co-accused were executed on Friday (November 10). Little
evidence was presented during the trial to support the charges against
Saro-Wiwa. Two of the prosecution witnesses have since stated in sworn
affidavits that they were bribed to make statements against the writer.  It
is widely believed that Saro-Wiwa was given the death penalty because of
his political activism within the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni
People (MOSOP) . Saro-Wiwa was in his home in Port Harcourt at the time the
four Ogoni leaders were murdered on May 21, 1994. One of those murdered was
Saro-Wiwa's brother-in-law.
 
In the early hours of May 22 1994, Saro-Wiwa was dragged from his house by
members of the military, severely beaten and jailed. He was subsequently
held without charge for nine months, during which time he was repeatedly
beaten, denied medical attention, and spent 65 days in chains. His trial
began earlier this year. As Saro-Wiwa himself said on many occasions, the
verdict was a foregone conclusion, decided on in advance by the Nigerian
government as a response to his environmental campaigning.
 
Saro-Wiwa was a prominent member of the Ogoni tribe which lives, fishes and
farms on oil-rich lands in the River Niger delta. For more than 30 years,
the Anglo-Dutch Shell oil company has extracted billions of dollars of oil
from Ogoniland, much of which still lacks electricity and running water,
and has just one hospital to serve the region's half-a-million people. In
the early 1990's, Saro-Wiwa helped found MOSOP, a pressure group demanding
that pollution in the delta be cleaned up, and the Ogoni people be
compensated for the degradation of their lands.
 
Fellow Nigerian writer, Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, has criticised
governments which take a diplomatic approach to Nigeria. "You do not
compromise with evil," says Soyinka.
 
ends
 
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT MISA ON TEL. +264 61 232975, FAX. 248016,
E-MAIL: [log in to unmask]
 
David Lush
Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
Private Bag 13386
Windhoek, Namibia
Tel. +264 61 232975, Fax. 248016
e-mail: [log in to unmask]

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