Monday, December 14, 2009

International Human Rights Day Panel on Chevron

In honor of International Human Rights Day, Antonia Juhasz, the director of The Chevron Program at Global Exchange, came down to Washington DC on December 10th to host a panel discussion at the Capitol Building. Antonia has been touring with the new edition of her book The Tyranny of Oil, just out in paperback. The Human Rights Day panel consisted of a few of the campaigners working today to highlight the negative impacts oil giant Chevron has on human rights and the environment around the world, and the ways in which communities are coming together to hold Chevron accountable, and fight for more just and sustainable energy solutions.

Juhasz introduced the discussion with an overview of Chevron’s practices globally, and then delved into the messy saga of the monumental trial currently in Ecuador. Kate Watters, the Executive Director of Crude Accountability, continued the discussion with Chevron’s presence in the Caspian Region, specifically Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan. Paul Donowitz of EarthRights International next focused on Burma, and the human rights abuses that have existed hand-in-hand with the infamous Yadana gas project operated by Chevron and its partners [read Paul's talk here]. The final member of the panel, Sowore Omoyele, a Nigerian human rights activist, independent journalist, and founder of Sahara Reporters, brought a captivating and even more sobering end to the presentation with stories of the Niger Delta where Chevron and other oil companies have worked closely with the military to crush local resistance to the human rights abuses and environmental degradation that accompanies their operations.

Altogether, it was an incredible mass of information with an all-too-clear commonality. And on this day in particular, it was crucial for those of us who don’t live in the heart of oil territory and don’t have to worry about how to find clean water or clean air to remember how lucky we are to take these basic human rights for granted.

– Aliyah

Aliyah Field is a Washington DC-based intern with Amazon Watch, and an organizer on the Clean Up Ecuador Campaign.

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