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Ken Saro-Wiwa's Final Statement

Received: (from strider) by igc4.igc.apc.org (8.6.12/Revision: 1.16 ) id GAA15742; Tue, 28 Nov 1995 06:42:39 -0800
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 1995 06:42:39 -0800

Date: Tue, 28 Nov 1995 10:36:51 +0100 (MET)
To: burmanet-1@xxxxxxxxxxx

The following statement was made by Ken Saro-Wiwa as he approached death 
at the hands of the Nigerian Government a few weeks back. It is indeed 
relevant to Burma, and the activities of the military junta and the oil 
companies in exploiting the country and the people.

One is sadly reminded of George Orwell's "Burmese Days" published in the 
1930's. In expaining British imperialism to Doctor Veraswami, Flory, the 
book's main character, says: "How can you make out that we are in this 
country for any purpose except to steal? It's so simple. The official 
holds the Burman down while the businessman goes through his pockets.."

Today, it is not officers of the emipre who holds people down, but 
indigenous military juntas with more arms, amunition, technology and 
coercive methods than any old colonial officers ever had.

H K Kuløy
Norwegian Burma Council    

Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria
November 1995

My lord,

We all stand before history.  I am a man of peace, of ideas. Appalled by 
the denigrating poverty of my people who live on a richly endowed land, 
distressed by their political marginalization and economic strangulation, 
angered by the devastation of their land, their ultimate heritage, 
anxious to preserve their right to life and to a decent living, and 
determined to usher to this country as a whole a fair and just democratic 
system which protects everyone and every ethnic group and gives us all a 
valid claim to human civilization, I have devoted my intellectual and 
material resources, my very life to a cause in which I have total belief 
and from which I cannot be blackmailed or intimidated.  I have no doubt 
at all about the ultimate success of my cause, no matter the trials and 
tribulations which I and those who believe with me may encounter on our 
journey.  Nor imprisonment nor death can stop our ultimate victory.  
I repeat that we all stand before history.  I and my colleagues are not 
the only ones on trial.  Shell [Oil Co.] is here on trial and it is as 
well that it is represented by counsel said to be holding a watching 
brief.  The Company has, indeed, ducked this particular trial, but its 
day will surely come and the lessons learnt here may prove useful to it 
for there is no doubt in my mind that the ecological war that the Company 
has waged in the Delta will be called to question sooner than later and 
the crimes of that war be duly punished.  The crime of the Company's 
dirty wars against the Ogoni people will also be punished.

On trial also is the Nigerian nation, its present rulers and those who 
assist them.  Any nation which can do to the weak and disadvantaged what 
the Nigerian nation has done to the Ogoni, loses a claim to independence 
and to freedom from outside influence.  I am not one of those who shy 
away from protesting injustice and oppression, arguing that they are 
expected in a military regime.  The military do not act alone.  They are 
supported by a gaggle of politicians, lawyers, judges, academics and 
businessmen, all of them hiding under the claim that they are only doing 
their duty, men and women too afraid to wash their pants of urine.  We 
all stand on trial, my lord, for by our actions we have denigrated our 
Country and jeopardized the future of our children.  As we subscribe to 
the sub-normal and accept double standards, as we lie and cheat openly, 
as we protect injustice and oppression, we empty our classrooms, 
denigrate our hospitals, fill our stomachs with hunger and elect to make 
ourselves the slaves of those who ascribe to higher standards, pursue the 
truth, and honour justice, freedom, and hard work.   I predict that the 
scene here will be played and replayed by generations yet unborn.  Some 
have already cast themselves  the role of villains, some are tragic 
victims, some still have a chance to redeem themselves.  The choice is 
for each individual.

I predict that the denouement of the riddle of the Niger delta will soon 
come.  The agenda is being set at this trial.  Whether the peaceful ways 
I have favored will prevail depends on what the oppressor decides, what 
signals it sends out to the waiting public.

In my innocence of the false charges I face here, in my utter conviction, 
I call upon the Ogoni people, the peoples of the Niger delta, and the 
oppressed ethnic minorities of Nigeria to stand up now and fight 
fearlessly and peacefully for their rights.  History is on their side.  
God is on their side. For the Holy Quran says in Sura 42, verse 41: "All 
those that fight when oppressed incur no guilt, but Allah shall punish 
the oppressor."  Come the day.