BUNDU 12 10 09

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Bundu Ama Shootings

On 12th October 2009, residents of Bundu Ama,
Port Harcourt, Nigeria protested having their homes marked for demolition. They were shot, most in the back as they ran. The number of dead is as yet unconfirmed.

Those that were shot and survived and their communities have decided to take the government to court. They are also campaigning to be allowed to put their energies and experience into developing their own communities. They want justice and development, not bullets and demolition.


We Demand Justice

We consider the events of 12 10 09 to constitute violations of the human rights of our communities to protest, demonstrate and take part in political activities. We also consider the excessive use of force to be unlawful, resulting in violation of the right to life.

We consider the actions by the agents of the Federal government and the Rivers state government to violate the right to health; right to adequate housing; right to privacy; right to freedom of movement and freedom to choose residence; and right to property, guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights; the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and the International Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Therefore, we are determined to ensure justice in this matter, and to challenge the impunity for the violation of the human rights of the victims, and ensure that the victims obtain an effective remedy.

In this regard, we have joined with SERAP, who has finalised the necessary court paper to be filed before the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja this week, seeking justice and remedies for victims of the excessive use of force in Bundu. Mr Femi Falana is the solicitor that would handle the case for SERAP and the victims.

We are encouraged by the support of Amnesty International, SERAP, SDN, Social Action, JDPC, GADA and C-SPIN. We are most grateful for the solidarity of all those who have sent messages of support from all over the world. They demand justice with us.

We demand:

  1. an independent public inquiry into the conduct of security forces on 12th October 2009 in Bundu Ama;
  2. full reparation, including financial compensation, for all victims of excessive use of force by security forces
  3. that perpetrators are brought to justice;
  4. that the Rivers State Government follow the law and observes due process in all matters concerning the demolition or development of the waterfronts; including genuine consultation with the affected people, prior adequate and reasonable notice, adequate alternative housing and compensation for all losses, safeguards on how evictions are carried out, and access to legal remedies and procedures, including access to legal aid where necessary. And that Rivers State Government ensures no one is rendered homeless or vulnerable to other human rights violations as a consequence of an eviction.

Bundu Incident in Detail

Bundu 12 10 09:

Women gathered early that morning after news went round of a planned enumeration exercise in the community - the marking of houses for demolition. They danced, prayed and chanted insults to the governor. They carried placards, reading, ‘Don’t kill us in our own homes’, ‘We want development not demolition’, ‘[Governor] leave us alone’. A crowd assembled; people on their way to work stopped to watch; children gathered at the junction; young men joined the dancing. The protest was spirited, defiant even, but absolutely peaceful.

Two armoured personnel carriers had been parked by the crowd since it first gathered. The armed mobile policemen that manned it looked on impassively, neither threatening, nor threatened by the crowd. About half an hour into the protest, a convoy of ‘Operation Flush’ trucks carrying security forces armed with automatic weapons, lead by an assault vehicle mounted cannon, charged the crowd at high speed. They opened fire without warning.

People were shot from behind as they ran. One person was shot through the back, the bullet bursting through his chest; another was shot just above the kidneys; another through the buttocks; another in his ribs; another in the leg; another in the foot; another in the hand. One person was shot in the head. Soldiers followed trails of blood to where people hid. Bodies were seen piled onto to trucks and driven off.

The soldiers fanned out through the community, shooting in the narrow alleys of Bundu-Ama, rifle-butting and whipping young men, breaking open doors, looting restaurants, stealing money. One young man was shot at point blank range as he hid in his room. Security forces prevented him receiving medical attention for two hours. Many of the victims were not even part of the protest, some were on their way to work, others were in their homes when they were shot. A seventeen year old girl was hit by a stray bullet in a settlement on the other side of the creek. All the victims needed hospital treatment, many remained in intensive care for days or weeks.

At least 13 people were shot. The number of dead is as yet unconfirmed.

Visit Bundu:

Click on a link below or cut and paste the reference into Google Maps.

Site of protests on the morning of 12 10 09:

+4° 45’ 28.55”, +7° 0’ 58.82”

Chicoco Cinema

Record. Project. Connect.

Chicoco Cinema audiences are spectators and actors in their own drama. And increasingly it is a drama they want to direct.

At the film club people learn to use cameras to record their lives - the everyday joys, struggles and routine violations of their rights. Communities use the cinema to project their stories, see themselves, and to send a message to the government and security forces that they are being watched. At the end of a long day, the film club is a place where people come together to watch movies on a big inflatable screen.

Chicoco Cinema is a mobile cinema and it will visit as many waterfront communities across the city as possible. Thousands of people have already joined us for shows put on with our makeshift kit and small screen. We are thrilled that our new cinema-in-a-box has now arrived in town. Just add air and electricity and it comes to life: instant cinema on a huge air-filled silver screen.

Charlie Chaplin was the star of our test screening. The programme of community shows will continue soon.

As our nomadic cinema casts its light across the city, we are working on developing a permanent base for media production in the waterfronts. This is an ambitious community-driven project that has the support of some world-class collaborators. Article 25, the leading disaster relief and development architectural organisation, will be a principal technical partner. International Institute for Environment and Development, a Nobel prize-winning organisation, will be collaborating on the ‘energy elements’ of the project.

Read more about this collaboration with waterfront communities in the Slum Pavilion entry.

Read the Events and Actions blog for news on Chicoco Cinema and Slum Pavilion.

Slum Pavilion

Build. Imagine. Life.

All kinds of people live in the waterfronts of Port Harcourt. Over a quarter of the city lives here. Architects, hair dressers, teachers, footballers, shop owners, civil servants, engineers, lawyers, schoolchildren, welders, policewomen, musicians, bank clerks, marine biologists, house painters, pastors, plumbers and politicians.

The government wants to destroy their homes, but the communities have decided to develop the waterfronts in ways that work for them.

Over 79% of Nigeria's urban population are slum dwellers. People like those living in the waterfronts of Port Harcourt are shaping the cities of today and tomorrow. Slum Pavilion is a place where people imagine, design and create the city they want to live in.

Thousands of ordinary people from the waterfronts are inviting architects, artists, activists and academics to the Slum Pavilion to reinvent the city for themselves.

Built with real and imaginary structures, Slum Pavilion involves materials and technology research, housing rights campaigns, inflatable cinemas, solar powered micro grids, radio stations, sustainable housing pilot schemes, collaborative planning projects and community media programmes.

In Februaury 2011, the Slum Pavilion project sees the visit of Article 25 to Port Harcourt. Article 25 are architects, engineers and experts who believe that everyone has the right to a standard of housing that ensures their health and well being. They share their skills and knowledge with communities and believe community participation in deciding their own future is a priority.

Article 25 will begin a consultation with waterfront communities aimed most immediately at developing a community media centre and its programme. The consultation will also include research on community energy needs (an element of the project supported by International Institute for Environment and Development) and ask questions on the broader concerns of waterfront communities in deciding their own future as part of the development of Port Harcourt.

The community media centre will be the home of Chicoco Cinema; a community radio station (developed in collaboration with the BBC engineers); and a mapping and enumeration project that will, for the first time, record the places and lives of the people of the waterfronts and highlight issues of health, security, education, water and sanitation.

Read the Events and Actions blog for news on Chicoco Cinema and Slum Pavilion.