Thursday, September 04, 2008

Andrew Berends Needs Your Help

My friend Karolyn sent me an email about Andrew Berends, a New York-based freelance filmmaker and journalist who was working on a film about the oil-producing Delta region in Nigeria. Andrew was Karolyn's daughter Katherine's high school class. His mother, Polly, is the author of Whole Parent, Whole Child and is a dear friend of Karolyn's. Andrew was arrested on Sunday and accused of spying. His passportand filmmaking equipment have been confiscated. “They didn’t let me sleep or eat or drink water for the first 36 hours,” he said Tuesday night. Polly has asked for help - if you can contact any political heavyweight to intervene on Andy's behalf, please do.

Several other foreign journalists and filmmakers have been detained while working in the region in recent years. In April, four members of a Seattle-based film crew were arrested in the Delta and held for six days on spying charges. Apparently, Nigeria doesn't want the world to notice the economic and ecological disaster that is taking place in the Niger Delta.
Despite its oil riches, the Niger Delta is a desperately poor and increasingly lawless part of the country, where wealth is siphoned away by corrupt officials. Militants demand a greater share of the area’s oil resources and claim to be fighting on behalf of the impoverished residents, but also appear to be engaging in many criminal and opportunistic acts of violence. Hundreds of foreign workers and wealthy Nigerians have been kidnapped for ransom, and oil theft is rampant.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has demanded his immediate release, but we need to bring more pressure on Nigeria to stop this wanton censureship of filmmakers and journalists. If you can, please call your Congressional Representative and your Senators.

Thanks!

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UPDATE

Andrew has been provisionally released. There are still restrictions.

8 comments:

FranIAm said...

That is horrible and very troubling. I have heard that Nigeria can be very dangerous in this way.

I am going to write letters now and get the word out about this.

susan said...

Me too. Nice how our government has made this world a kinder , gentler place, eh?

Randal Graves said...

"Unka Dick, I changed my mind, I like Nigerians now, heh heh."

I think I'll give the Dishonorable George Voinovich a call. Maybe I can get some audible crocodile tears.

Mary Ellen said...

I'll definitely write to Dick Durbin. Not sure if he'll do anything. In the meantime, I'll keep him and the others in my prayers.

Robert Rouse said...

Surely there has to be a wealthy Nigerian prince somewhere. I get emails from them all the time. Maybe i can hook him up.

But seriously, I'll contact Dick Lugar and Evan Bayh.

susan said...

ps - I did write to Congressman David Wu. I hope to hear Andrew has been released soon as well as his guide- translator.

Freida Bee said...

How scary. I'm glad he's been provisionally released. I will look into this more.

an average patriot said...

Very Good Diva!
I hate to always sound doom and gloom but the more every country says screw what the rest of the world thinks as Bush has also done it will get much more violent and decadent as time goes by!