This Page Added:  July 29, 2001

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Over the years Chevron has consistently waged a war on our land, forests and waters. Go to Awoye community [Nigeria] and see what they have done. Everything there is dead: mangroves, tropical forests, fish, fresh water, wildlife. All killed by Chevron.

So on May 25 I led 121 youths from 42 communities to Parabe [oil] platform to protest against the continuing destruction of our environment by Chevron. This was after all our other methods of making our grievances known had failed.

We met an officer of the Nigerian Navy. (Chevron uses the military and imported security people from abroad in all its operations in the Niger Delta.) He said he would have to take us to Mr. Davies, a Chevron representative. We all stood on the barge. I addressed them on the issues. I told them of the letters we had sent over the years, the numerous entreaties for meetings and how we had been ignored. They promised to do something. Immediately.

On May 28 we saw three helicopters. They came like eagles swooping on chickens. We never expected what followed. As the choppers landed one after the other discharging soldiers, we heard gunshots and fire. In fact they started shooting commando-style at us even before they landed. They shot everywhere. Arulika and Jola fell. They died instantly. Larry who was near him rushed to his aid, wanting to pick him up; he was also shot.

More soldiers came and more shooting followed. Some of my colleagues jumped over board into the Atlantic; others ran onto the platform. There was pandemonium. They shot tear gas. White men flew all the helicopters. I was by this time on the platform with some of my colleagues. We were defenseless, harmless.

We entered the radio room and I called Deji Haastrup. I complained that we were to meet today in the community and instead he sent us soldiers. He replied: "I have warned you. If you want a chance to live, you should leave the place."

Forty-five minutes later another chopper came. There were four soldiers inside. They joined in the shooting for another hour, this time shooting into the air and shouting like cowboys attacking Indians that were caught unaware. The workers on the platform demanded to be evacuated; they were all flown to Meren platform. The soldiers saw me and wanted to shoot me. Lt. Commander Williams shouted at them not to shoot. The army captain who led the operation ordered most of my colleagues locked in a container.

Larry was first taken for first aid. He had been shot in the stomach, the legs and elbows. They also flew the corpses of my colleagues away.

As the hours dragged on painfully, Haastrup phoned the platform to say that five of our elders, the governor of Ondo State and senior Chevron officials were waiting at the naval base in Warri. I told Lt. Commander Williams that it was a lie. To show the lies in him I told Deji in the presence of the commander: "You know that you killed a lot of people."

Haastrup replied angrily, "If it means blowing up the platform with you inside, I will not mind doing that." I reminded Haastrup that whatever he was saying on radio was being received by the world. He hung up.

Most of us who went for the peaceful protest were injured; at least 30 received gunshot wounds. Several of our engine boats and fishing equipment were destroyed.

We got information that Chevron had lodged a complaint against us that we are pirates and that the mobile police would take us for prosecution. My colleagues and I were in a cruel cell until June 22, when we were let go. Our struggle continues.

Bola Oyinbo

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