After traveling halfway around the world from Nigeria to the U.S., Emem Okon, along with 17 other people representing oil-producing communities around the globe, stood today as shareholders ready to attend Chevron’s Annual General Meeting of the Shareholders. Chevron arbitrarily denied Ms. Okon and at least 13 others entry to the meeting despite the fact that other representatives from Chevron-impacted communities were allowed to enter the meeting.
Ms. Okon traveled to Houston from Nigeria’s Niger Delta, the oil-producing region of the country. The women whose voices and stories Ms. Okon wanted to convey to the Chevron Board and Shareholders have contacted Chevron many times at home in Nigeria, but the company has not responded to them. The women have called, written letters, and peacefully protested, urging the company “to clean up the environment, end gas flaring, and to respect their human rights policies, which call for two-way communication between Chevron and the community people,” says Ms. Okon.
Indeed, Chevron’s 2009 Human Rights Policy states the following: “Community: We respect human rights in the following ways…By fostering ongoing, proactive two-way communication with communities and knowledgeable stakeholders.”
The company’s behavior today in Houston contradicted its own Human Rights Policy by silencing the voices of people from Nigeria, Australia, Burma, Richmond (California), and elsewhere by preventing them from communicating with the company’s shareholders–without any legal basis for that denial.
Nigerian Omoyele Sowore explains, “By its actions today, Chevron continues its criminal behavior by denying its shareholders a voice, as it has denied impacted communities a voice about pollution and climate change, and continues its connivance and collusion with military dictators around the world to suppress the voices of people in the communities where it operates.”
Justice in Nigeria Now (JINN) is a San Francisco-based organization working in solidarity with communities in Nigeria and allies in the U.S. to promote peace and corporate accountability and to ensure that extractive industries operate in a manner that respects human rights, protects the environment and enhances community livelihood.