Dr. Owens Wiwa, his wife and family, who have fled from Nigeria, have found refuge in Canada. The United Church is welcoming them and providing assistance. Although Nigeria had a democratic election after Britain left in 1961 the military took over and the country has been ruled by successive dictatorships since then. A million died in the 1970 Nigeria-Biafra civil war. A period of democracy in 1979 was short-lived. A presidential election in 1993 was ignored and the ongoing nonviolent struggle for liberation is being brutally suppressed.
Dr. Wiwa's brother, writer and environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa, was one of nine people executed in spite of international protests last year. The issue is not simply that of democracy, human rights, and freedom of the press but also of the role of the oil companies in Nigeria, especially in Ogoniland. Ken Saro-Wiwa led The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People. The Ogoni contend that multinational oil companies, particularly Shell Petroleum Development Company, with the cooperation of the government, ravaged their land and contaminated their rivers while providing little tangible benefit in return. Dr. Wiwa, as a physician in Ogoniland, saw the health of the Ogoni people deteriorate. In this small land, home to 500,000 Ogoni, he writes, there are over 100 oil wells, a petrochemical complex, two oil refineries and fertilizer complexes, yet the people have no electricity or water.
The Commonwealth responded by suspending Nigeria's membership. Canada is calling for economic sanctions against oil companies or for their cooperation in changing the desperate situation. Dr. Wiwa hopes to attain a degree in environmental health science in Canada and continue his work on environmentally-induced conflicts.
He is a keen chess player. Does anyone have a chess set to donate?
by Shirley Farlinger
A letter from Global Demilitarization:
Dear Peace and Religious Organizations:
We are writing to you to request that your organization cooperate in a worldwide citizen's campaign to abolish nuclear weapons. This peaceful campaign will focus on the leaders of nuclear weapons nations. The main thrust of the campaign is to:
1. Abolish all nuclear weapons and set up a verification system so that none will ever be built again.
2. Abolish nuclear weapons by the year 2000.
British and U.S. polls show that up to 85% of the public favors the abolition of nuclear weapons. We are certain that millions of people are ready to take simple, well-defined actions to accomplish this goal.
We are sending letters to over 3,800 organizations around the world. We are asking them to send the following (or a similar) message to the heads of state of all nuclear weapons countries by postcard, letter, e-mail, fax or phone. Ask at least two friends to do the same.
"Dear [Name of Head of State]: Give a gift to all the children of the world. Please take a strong leadership position to abolish all nuclear weapons by the year 2000.
[Your name and address]"
For more information check the WWW site: http://www.rpi.edu/~clarkg2/nwf2000/ or contact:
Sue and Marvin Clark, Co-Directors, Global Demilitarization, 42 Maple Ave., Troy, NY 12180 USA; phone 518/274-0784; fax 518/274-0784; e-mail email@example.com
On Aug. 28, 400 Jahalin Bedouins(previously described in Peace) living in the hills of
East Jerusalem were forcefully removed from the land they had been living on for over 40 years. The Israeli goverment intends to use the land to expand the Jewish settlement of Ma'ale Adumin as part of its plan to create a "Greater Jerusalem."
Tens of thousands of people are being displaced by this plan - most tragically the Jahalin Bedouins. The only alternative the Israeli authorities have invented is to relocate them on a site owned by Palestinians in East Jerusalem. The location is near a large garbage dump which has been declared unfit for human habitation.
The Action Committee for the Jahalin Tribe (ACJI) established a Human Rights Peace Camp outside Jerusalem to protest their removal. The camp was especially active in the last two weeks of August, with participants from all over the world. For more information on how you can support the Jahalin, contact:
Majed Yasin, ACJT, P.O. Box 32213, Jerusalem; Israel. phone 972 -2-746010