UNPO Set to Mark 15th Anniversary of Executed Former Vice-Chair
Executed Ogoni leader Ken Saro-Wiwa to be honoured in major international commemoration centred in The Hague.
Below is a press release published by UNPO:
In collaboration with 7 other major environmental and human rights organisations, UNPO is holding a set of events in The Hague to pay respects to former Vice-Chair, and President of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), Mr. Ken Saro-Wiwa, an inspirational nonviolent advocate who tirelessly sought justice for all people in the Niger Delta.
On November 10 1995, Saro-Wiwa was hanged without fair trial by the Nigerian Military Government. His death and the deaths of 8 other Ogoni leaders that day drew to a close his personal campaign to cease the devastation of the land, water and sky of the Niger Delta, but sparked international outrage and greater scrutiny of corporate greed in light of political marginalisation of minorities. Nigeria was suspended from the UK Commonwealth, but as years have passed, memories have faded and impetus waned. UNPO continues to advocate nonviolent strategies to diffuse the tension in the region and promote peace and prosperity.
A major public debate will be held in The Plein, The Hague on Wednesday November 10 from 5.30pm in front of the Dutch parliament with major stakeholders in attendance including the First Secretary of the Nigerian Embassy. It will commence with candle lighting, a commemorative video and tributes from Honorary Guest speakers. Founder of UNPO and former General Secretary, Mr. Michael van Walt van Praag who was instrumental in drawing international attention to Saro-Wiwa and the plight of the Ogoni people is set to return to The Hague to pay his respects. Other Honorary Guests include Mr Lionel Veer, Dutch Human Rights Ambassador. Mr. Nnimmo Bassey, Executive Director of Friends of the Earth Nigeria will also make a public statement on behalf of Nigerian Civil Society.
A Procession will then lead participants from the Plein to the Paard van Troje, renowned music venue for the commemorative concert “Standing Before History” in honour of Saro-Wiwa, featuring international soul and hip hop star Nneka. Doors open at 7.30pm, and a joint Amnesty International and Milieudefensie photo exhibition demonstrating the destruction and exploitation of the land in the Niger Delta will be on display. African food and books written by Ken Saro-Wiwa will be on sale, and promotional stands from the organising coalition will showcase each organisation’s work in the region.
Winner of the 2009 British MOBO for ‘Best African Act’ and 2010 Nigerian Entertainment Award for “Best Indigenous Artist of the Year”, and just nominated for the MTV Africa “Best Female” Award 2010, Niger Delta born hip hop and soul singer and songwriter, Nneka has graced international music festivals across Europe, America and Africa, and has played several times in The Netherlands in recent years. “Standing Before History”, a title inspired by Ken Saro Wiwa’s final words denouncing corporate greed and injustice is set to be her biggest Dutch performance yet. The concert is followed by a set by DJ Kingsley, who also hails from Nigeria but whose home is The Hague.
Saro-Wiwa was a prolific writer who used literature to challenge the status quo. He was a founding Member and President of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), an organisation whose very name epitomises the vulnerability of the population. MOSOP was admitted to UNPO in 1993 and soon after Saro-Wiwa became Vice Chair of UNPO, a position he held until his death. It was through UNPO that he first came to Europe to describe the devastation in the Delta. As a result of his eloquence and passion, the plight of the Ogoni people hit Time Magazine and CNN.
UNPO has continued to campaign for greater involvement of the Ogoni people in the decision making processes that affect their long-term livelihoods. Equally, Ogonis have taken leading roles in the running of UNPO; current MOSOP President, Mr. Ledum Mitee completed two terms as UNPO President in May 2010.
More information can be found on the specially designed website www.CleanTheNigerDelta.org or by contacting UNPO at unpo[at]unpo.org, Tel: +31 (0)70 36 46 504.