Movement_for_the_Emancipation_of_the_Niger_Delta

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Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta

Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta ("MEND") is a militant indigenous people’s movement dedicated to armed struggle against what they regard as the exploitation and oppression of the people of the Niger Delta and the degradation of the natural environment by foreign multinational corporations involved in the extraction of oil in the Niger Delta and the Federal Government of Nigeria. MEND has been linked to attacks on foreign-owned petroleum companies in Nigeria as part of the Conflict in the Niger Delta. MEND’s stated goals are to localize control of Nigeria’s oil and to secure reparations from the federal government for pollution caused by the oil industry. In an interview with one of the group’s leaders, who used the alias Major-General Godswill Tamuno, the BBC reported that MEND was fighting for "total control" of the Niger Delta’s oil wealth, saying local people had not gained from the riches under the ground and the region’s creeks and swamps." [1] The Economist has described the organization as one that "portrays itself as political organisation that wants a greater share of Nigeria’s oil revenues to go to the impoverished region that sits atop the oil. In fact, it is more of an umbrella organisation for several armed groups, which it sometimes pays in cash or guns to launch attacks." [2] In a January 2006 email MEND warned the oil industry, "It must be clear that the Nigerian government cannot protect your workers or assets. Leave our land while you can or die in it.... Our aim is to totally destroy the capacity of the Nigerian government to export oil."[3] Additionally MEND has called upon President Olusegun Obasanjo to free two jailed ethnic Ijaw leaders — Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, who is jailed and charged with treason, and Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, a former governor of Bayelsa State charged with corruption. Obasanjo’s successor, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua authorised the release of Dokubo-Asari and Alamieyeseigha in 2007. [4]

Origins and Context
For the roughly fifty years since Nigeria declared independence from British colonial rule, oil has been produced in Nigeria. Throughout this period, corporate politics has intersected with successive dictatorships. Under these dictatorships the Nigerian government has signed laws that appropriated oil resources and placed these under the control of multinational oil companies, such as Chevron Corporation and most notoriously, Royal Dutch Shell. From the point of view of MEND, and its supporters, the people of the Niger Delta have suffered an unprecedented degradation of their environment due to unchecked pollution produced by the oil industry. As a result of this policy of dispossessing people from their lands in favor of foreign oil interests, within a single generation, many now have no ability to fish or farm. People living in the Niger Delta have found themselves in a situation where their government and the international oil companies own all the oil under their feet, the revenues of which are rarely seen by the people who are suffering from the consequences of it. Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, has said of the situation, "The oil companies can’t pretend they don’t know what’s happening all around them. The Nigerian government obviously has the primary responsibility to stop human rights abuse. But the oil companies are directly benefiting from these crude attempts to suppress dissent, and that means they have a duty to try and stop it."[1] Eghare W.O. Ojhogar, chief of the Ugborodo community, said: "It is like paradise and hell. They have everything. We have nothing... If we protest, they send soldiers." Over the last twenty years various political movements and activists have emerged in opposition to the perceived injustices perpetrated upon the people of the Niger Delta by the government and the oil companies. These were usually nonviolent; Ken Saro-Wiwa was

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Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta

the most famous activist. Saro-Wiwa was an Ogoni poet-turned-activist who was executed by the Nigerian government in 1995 on what many believe to be deliberately false charges with the aim of silencing his vocal opposition to the oil interests in Nigeria. In Saro-Wiwa’s footsteps came others who, having seen the government’s reaction to nonviolent activism, advocated violence as resistance to what they regarded as the enslavement of their people. Militants in the delta enjoy widespread support among the region’s approximately 20 million people, most of whom live in poverty despite the enormous wealth generated in the oil-rich region.[2]

Tactics
MEND’s attacks involve substantially more sophisticated tactics than those of previous militant groups in the Niger Delta. MEND’s recent tactics have included: • Swarm-based maneuvers: guerrillas are using speed boats in the Niger Delta’s swamps to quickly attack targets in succession. Multiple, highly maneuverable units have kept the government and Shell’s defensive systems off-balance defending their sprawling networks. • Radically improved firepower and combat training: allowing guerrillas to overpower a combination of Shell’s Western-trained private military guards and elite Nigerian units in several engagements. (One of Shell’s private military operators was captured as a hostage.) • Effective use of system disruption: targets have been systematically and accurately selected to completely shut down production and delay and/or halt repairs, and the guerrillas are making effective use of Shell’s hostages to coerce both the government and the multinational.[9] The militants have bombed two pipelines, triggering an international increase in the cost of oil. Recently MEND kidnapped four foreign oil workers, who are from Bulgaria, Britain, Honduras and the United States. Violence and destruction by MEND in 2007 caused Chevron Corporation to shut down some oil production after one Nigerian sailor was killed and six other foreign oil workers were kidnapped by members of MEND. MEND reportedly attacked the company’s Oloibiri floating production, storage, and offloading vessel off southern Bayelsa state on May 1, 2007. [10] In September 2008, MEND released a statement proclaiming that their militants had launched an "oil war" throughout the Niger Delta against both pipelines and oil production facilities, and the Nigerian soldiers that protect them. In the statement MEND claimed to have killed 22 Nigerian soldiers in one attack against a Chevron-owned oil platform. The Nigerian government confirmed that their troops were attacked in numerous locations, but said that all assaults were repelled with the infliction of heavy casualties on the militants. [5]

Constituency and Organization
MEND is closely connected with Asari’s Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force, a rebel group with similar aims. MEND reportedly seeks "a union of all relevant militant groups in the Niger Delta."[3] However, the identity of MEND is somewhat obscure since its leaders like to remain faceless[4] and its cause has been taken up by completely unrelated groups inspired by the original MEND, one of which is claiming responsibility for some of the violence that has occurred. However, the original members of MEND (recognized as MEND by the United States government and Chevron security), have claimed that impostors are causing some of the violence that is now occurring.[5] MEND’s evolving approach to conducting warfare has been described as "open source" [6], so called because it is analogous to the decentralized communal development process now prevalent in the software industry, making it extremely quick to innovate and move new technologies and tactics rapidly from cell to cell without the direction of a vulnerable leadership hierarchy.[7] Former United States Air Force "counter-terrorism" officer, technology analyst, and software entrepreneur, John Robb, in a Wired Magazine interview about the emergence of "open source guerrillas", alleged that MEND "doesn’t even field its own guerillas. They hire their experts and fighters mostly from criminal gangs and tribal warrior cults to do their operations." [8]

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Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta
On October 4, 2006, Nigerian soldiers attacked a militant camp, in the ensuing battle 9 Nigerian soldiers were killed.[15] On November 22, 2006, Nigerian soldiers attempted a rescue of kidnapped oil workers which resulted in one soldier being killed.

Timeline of Activities
See also: Foreign hostages in Nigeria

2006
Nine officials for the Italian petrol company Eni SpA were killed when armed members of MEND attacked Eni SpA’s security forces in Port Harcourt. MEND militants briefly occupied and robbed a bank near the Eni SpA base, leaving at about 3:30 p.m, about an hour after they showed up. A company official stated, "Eni has temporarily evacuated staff and contractors from the area of the base affected by the incident and the situation is currently under control." MEND issued a statement regarding the oil workers: "Be assured therefore that the hostages in return, will remain our guests... [the hostages] are in good health and have adapted fairly well to the conditions under which the people of the Niger Delta have been kept." On May 10, 2006, an executive with the United States-based oil company, Baker Hughes, was shot and killed in the southeastern city of Port Harcourt. At the time of the shooting, it was not immediately known if MEND had any involvement or not. Witnesses say the attacker appeared to be specifically targeting the US executive. [11] On June 2, 2006 a Norwegian rig offshore Nigeria was attacked and 16 crew members were kidnapped. According to the news agency Reuters, MEND has not taken responsibility for this attack. [12] (Norwegian) On August 20, 2006, 10 MEND members were killed by the Nigerian military. The members were working on releasing a Royal Dutch Shell hostage. In an email to REUTERS, MEND stated, "Our response to Sunday’s killings will come at our time, but for certain it will not go unpunished."[13] On October 2, 2006, 10 Nigerian soldiers were killed off the shore of the Niger Delta in their patrol boat by a MEND mortar shell. Earlier that day a Nigerian/Royal Dutch Shell convoy was attacked in the Port Harcourt region resulting in some people being wounded. On October 3, 2006, a militant group abducted four Scots, a Malaysian, an Indonesian and a Romanian from a bar in Akwa Ibom state.[14]

2007
On May 1, 2007, MEND seized six expatriate workers from an offshore oil facility owned by Chevron. The group of six consisted of four Italians, an American and a Croat. On the same day, MEND published photos of the captives seated on white plastic chairs in a wooden shelter around the remains of a campfire. On May 3, 2007, MEND seized eight foreign hostages from another offshore vessel. The hostages were released less than 24 hours later, stating they had intended to destroy the vessel and did not want more hostages. On May 8, 2007, three major oil pipelines (one in Brass and two in the Akasa area) were attacked, shutting down oil production and cutting power to a facility run by Italian oil company Agip, part of the ENI energy group. An e-mail statement from a MEND spokesperson said, "Fighters of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) attacked and destroyed three major pipelines in Bayelsa state... We will continue indefinitely with attacks on all pipelines, platforms and support vessels." [16] On September 23, 2007, a MEND spokesperson named Jomo Gbomo announced, through a communiqué to the Philadelphia Independent Media Center, that media reports of his arrest and detention were false; and then further informed, through the letter, that MEND had officially declared war, effective 12 midnight, September 23, 2007, and that they would be commencing "attacks on installations and abduction of expatriates."[17] On November 13, 2007, MEND militants attacked Cameroonian soldiers on the disputed Bakassi peninsula, killing more than 20 soldiers, three days after this incident; a southern Cameroonian rebel group claimed responsibility to the attack on the soldiers.[18]

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Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta

2008
On May 3, 2008, MEND militants attacked Shell-operated pipelines in Nigeria, forcing the company to halt 170,000 barrels a day of exports of Bonny Light crude.[6] On June 20, 2008, MEND naval forces attacked the Shell-operated Bonga oil platform, shutting down 10% of Nigeria’s oil production in one fell swoop. The oil platform, Shell’s flagship project in the area capable of extracting a massive 200,000 barrels of oil a day, was widely assumed to be outside the reach of the militants due to its location 120km off-shore. This attack has demonstrated a level of prowess and sophistication never before seen by the rebels and it is now known that all of Nigeria’s oil platforms are within range of MEND attack. [7] On September 14, 2008, MEND inaugurated Operation Hurricane Barbarossa with an ongoing string of militant attacks to bring down the oil industry in Rivers State.[8] On September 27, a week after declaring an oil war and destroying several significant oil production and transportation hubs in the delta[9], the group declared a ceasefire until "further notice" upon the intervention of Ijaw and other elders in the region.[10]

2009
MEND called off its ceasefire on January 30, 2009.[11] Equatorial Guinea blamed MEND for an attack on the presidential palace in Malabo on February 17, which resulted in the death of at least one attacker. MEND denied involvement.[12][13]

[2] http://www.economist.com/world/ mideast-africa/ displaystory.cfm?story_id=12267373 [3] http://www.corpwatch.org/ article.php?id=13121 [4] http://www.crisisgroup.org/library/ documents/africa/west_africa/ 135_nigeria___ending_unrest_in_the_niger_delta.pdf [5] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/ 7615498.stm [6] http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/ news?pid=20601087&sid=aNXVIrK.7.Y4&refer=hom [7] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/ 7463288.stm [8] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ worldnews/africaandindianocean/nigeria/ 2962894/Nigerian-militants-launchHurricane-Barbarossa-against-oilplants.html [9] http://allafrica.com/stories/ 200810130502.html [10] http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/ 2008/09/200892110225491930.html [11] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/ 7861257.stm [12] http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/africa/ article01/ indexn2_html?pdate=200209&ptitle=Equatorial%20 [13] http://allafrica.com/stories/ 200902200905.html

External links
• [tt_news=4113 Guide to the Armed Groups Operating in the Niger Delta - Part 2] • Curse of the Black Gold: 50 years of oil in the Niger Delta - The full book by Ed Kashi and Michael Watts online • News on the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta from the Nigerian Press • Website for Curse of the Black Gold • Curse of the Black Gold Blog • "Free from Nigerian Military Custody, “Sweet Crude” Director Sandy Cioffi on Oil Politics in the Niger Delta" on Democracy Now May 09, 2008 • "Rebels in the Pipeline" by Mariana van Zeller on Current TV Nov. 2007 • HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH CRITICIZES NIGERIAN CIVILIAN REGIME FOR CONTINUING HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN NIGER DELTA • CFR: MEND: The Niger Delta’s Umbrella Militant Group

See also
• Niger Delta conflicts • Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force • Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra • Ijaw Youths • Petroleum in Nigeria • Ken Saro-Wiwa • Controversies surrounding Royal Dutch Shell • Isaac Adaka Boro

References
[1] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/ 4732210.stm

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Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta
• "NIGERIAN EVOLUTION", (Global Guerrillas) January 16, 2006 • Blood Oil by Sebastian Junger in Vanity Fair, February 2007 (accessed 28 January 2007) • Nigerian Oil -- "Curse of the Black Gold: Hope and Betrayal in the Niger Delta" -article from National Geographic Magazine (February 2007) • "Chronology of Nigerian militants’ Attacks", Masterweb News Desk (February 21, 2007) • The shadowy militants in Nigeria’s Delta -from the BBC (May 2007) • Inside the Brave New War, Part 1, Wired May 16, 2007, interview with former Air Force counter-terrorism officer, technology analyst, and software entrepreneur about his book by the same name. • Emerging Requirements for US Counterinsurgency, An Examination of the Insurgency in the Niger River Delta Coordinates: 5°21′N 5°21′E / 5.35°N 5.35°E / 5.35; 5.35

• Article on MEND and the Delta, providing context, interviews and some idea of future issues - TIME Europe, 14 May 2006 • News story of the group • "Nine Killed in Oil Company Attack" (Reuters) accessed January 24, 2006 • "American oil executive killed in Nigeria" (CNN) May 10, 2006 • "As Hundreds Die in an Oil Pipeline Explosion in Lagos, A Look At the Fight Over Nigeria’s Natural Resources" (Democracy Now) December 26, 2006 • Stories of Torture committed by Nigerian Police - Niger Delta Torture • Sweet Crude, a documentary currently in production, will tell the story of Nigeria’s Niger Delta. • "Nigeria’s shadowy oil rebels" (BBC) 20 April 2006 • "The poverty of oil wealth in Nigeria’s delta", by Dulue Mbachu in Utorogu, Nigeria for ISN Security Watch (03/02/06) • NIGERIA: Shell may pull out of Niger Delta after 17 die in boat raid (The Independent, UK) January 17, 2006 • The Niger Delta Question: Incubating the Future Suicide Bombers of Nigeria, by Hosiah Emmanuel

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