Monday, 24 May 2010

Financial Times Pulls Amnesty Advert

By Ben Aulakh

The Financial Times daily newspaper has pulled out of printing an advertisement focusing on the appalling human rights record of oil company Shell in Nigeria.

The advert, produced by Amnesty International UK didn’t go to print at the last moment, despite the newspaper initially agreeing for it to make it into the paper.

Amnesty has expressed its immense disappointment at the decision; it was due to appear in the FT on May 18, the same day Shell held its Annual General Meeting in London.

Tim Hancock, Amnesty International UK’s campaigns director, said, “The decision by the Financial Times is extremely disappointing.

“We gave them written reassurances that we would take full responsibility for the comments and opinions stated in the advertisement.”

The advertisement compared the oil firm’s $9.8bn profits with the consequences of pollution – caused by the oil giant – for the people of the Niger Delta.

The advertisement shows how oil spills, which have not been adequately cleaned up, have left local communities with little option but to drink polluted water, eat contaminated fish, farm on spoiled land, and breathe in air that stinks of oil and gas.

However the advert was printed in both The Metro and The Evening Standard newspapers.

Tim Hancock added, “The money to pay for the advertisements came entirely from more than 2,000 individuals online, who we’d asked to fund an ad campaign targeting Shell’s AGM.

"It really caught their imagination, and I am sure these supporters will share with us our sense of deep disappointment.”

Amnesty International also today launched a new hard-hitting online video focusing on Shell’s illegal practice of gas flaring (the burning of gas produced as part of oil extraction) in the same region.

They say that gas flaring is only serving to add to environmental impact on the people of the Niger Delta.

Photograph from Amnesty International.

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