Blood for Oil : Bowoto v. Chevron Oil Begins in the US

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Chevron Oil company is at last facing trials in an international hearing in a federal court in San Francisco in the landmark human rights case of brutal suppression and killings of unarmed villagers in the Niger Delta in 1998.

A survivor Larry Bowoto, and 18 other plaintiffs are accusing Chevron of collaboration with the Nigerian military in the murder, shooting and subsequent torture of the Nigerian villagers who were engaged in environmental protest against the oil giant. The case labeled Bowoto v. Chevron arises from this human right violation incident of May 28, 1998.

The plaintiffs claim that Chevron paid the Nigerian police and soldiers who conducted the attack, ferried them to the attack zone and closely monitored them during the attack. The case seeks justice for the villagers injured and killed in the attacks.

The Ilaje tribe villagers suffered the destruction of their freshwater supply, erosion and pollution of their land; they travel many kilometres to find potable water.

In May of 1998, they went to Chevron’s offshore Platform to complain and protest the havoc the degradation of their environment by Chevron’s oil activities. They wanted compensation: environmental restoration, scholarships for their youths, jobs, medical assistance and amenities. Chevron Nigeria officials had reported to the U.S. Embassy that the villagers were unarmed and the situation was calm.

On the afternoon of May 27, 1998, after the villagers had already agreed to leave the next morning, Chevron summoned the military and police and directed them to open fire on the unarmed civilians. The police and soldiers shot and killed two people. The security forces shot and injured at least two more, including Larry Bowoto.

None of the villagers were armed, their peaceful protest was against the degradation of their environment, their demands for compensation was logical but they were rather violated. Justice for the people of Ilaje is on the table of the Judge of the federal court in San Francesco, their human rights still bleed.

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