There is a continuing and profound whelming of forces—spiritual and secular, economic and political—against the continued oil-driven destruction of Sudan, a destruction finally genocidal in nature.
Yesterday, in an historic and unprecedented statement, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops passed a resolution on Sudan that excoriates the Khartoum regime and highlights the role of oil development in prolonging the war (excerpts below).
This evening, the United States Holocaust Museum, through its Committee on Conscience, will solemnly inaugurate a display that gives voice to the terrible findings of the Committee: “We are compelled to speak out on the continuing slaughter in Sudan, where the museum’s Committee on Conscience has determined that government actions threaten genocide.” (excerpts, with specific reference to Talisman Energy of Canada, also attached below)
Eric Reeves [November 15, 2000]
Smith College firstname.lastname@example.org
Northampton, MA 01063
The forces of the human spirituality are speaking with ever greater force and unanimity about Sudan’s largely unseen holocaust, and condemning with steadily increasing rigor the role of oil development in sustaining this torn nation’s genocidally destructive civil war.
The campaign against oil development in Sudan is not the passion of a few; it is not—as Talisman Energy CEO Jim Buckee would have it—“background noise”; it is now a full-fledged and irresistible campaign anchored in both the secular human rights communities and the spiritual communities of North America, Europe, and the world as a whole.
This is no longer an issue for debate; the reports of the UN Special Rapporteur for Sudan, the Canadian foreign ministry, Amnesty International, and others have been all too compelling and unambiguous in their terrible findings. Rather, it is now an issue that demands action—concerted, unrelenting, and punishing of those who would continue to profit from human slaughter.
The condemnation of companies like Talisman Energy of Canada, Petronas of Malaysia, and China National Petroleum Corp. is fully informed—and now equally determined to see that oil development is halted pending a just peace for all the peoples of Sudan. And the arena in which this determination will receive fullest expression is the capital markets of the United States and Canada.
Capital market sanctions against companies involved in Sudan’s Greater Nile project draw ever closer in the US, even as the North American divestment campaign directed against Talisman Energy continues to exact a ferocious cost in the company’s share price. Losses in total market capitalization for Talisman have reached the $3 billion mark—and will only grow as long as the company remains savagely obdurate in refusing to leave Sudan.
Participants in both the divestment campaign against Talisman Energy and the campaign for broader capital market sanctions have grown dramatically. And the pointed condemnations from both the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the US Holocaust Museum should serve as the clearest possible signal that efforts on behalf of Sudan will not cease until oil development is no longer an obstacle to peace or an incentive for continued human destruction.
Corporate cynicism about the resolve of those now committed to the cause of Sudan; financial analysts’ self-serving blather about a “Sudan discount” having been factored in; self-deluding market opportunism—all will be incinerated in the flames of a righteous campaign that will simply not look away from Sudan’s agony so long as oil and economic interests are part of that agony.
From the resolution on Sudan by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (November 14, 2000):
“A government that does not represent the people of Sudan has waged a systematic campaign of terror against Christians, practitioners of traditional African religions, and non-Arabs, in the southern and eastern parts of the country, while in the north, Christian churches have been destroyed and voices of opposition have been brutally repressed.”
“The government in Khartoum, bolstered by increasing oil revenues, appears to be pursuing a military buildup in the hopes of winning the war by force.”
Excerpts from statement by Irving Greenberg (Chairman of the United State Holocaust Memorial Council) and Jerome Shestack (Chairman of the Committee on Conscience, United States Holocaust Museum) of October 31, 2000:
“The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, America’s memorial to victims of the Holocaust, is meant to be a living memorial, responding to the future even as it remembers the past. The sacred trust of memory requires us to confront and work to halt genocide today. That is why we are compelled to speak out on the continuing slaughter in Sudan, where the museum’s Committee on Conscience has determined that government actions threaten genocide.”
“One does not lightly invoke the specter of genocide–the intentional physical destruction of national, ethnic, racial or religious groups as such. But the horror that afflicts Sudan is staggering: some 2 million dead; another 4 million to 5 million driven from their homes; government toleration of the enslavement of women and children; mass starvation used as a weapon of war; churches and mosques destroyed; hospitals and clinics bombed; widespread discrimination and persecution on account of race, ethnicity and religion. Primary responsibility for this devastation belongs to the Sudanese government, a military regime based in the north. The principal victims include the Dinka and Nuer peoples in the south and the Nuba in central Sudan.”
“And as bad as the situation already is, it promises to get worse. In late 1999, the Sudanese government began earning hundreds of millions of dollars from new oil production, made possible in part by ***Western oil companies such as Talisman Energy.*** This hard currency gives the government both greater means and greater motive to accelerate its assault on targeted groups. As one Sudanese cabinet minister said, ‘What prevents us from fighting while we possess the oil that supports us in this battle even if it lasts for a century?'”
“The problem is that the government “possesses” the oil only if it cleanses ethnic groups such as the Dinka and Nuer from the land under which it sits. The government’s desire to secure oil fields has fueled a vicious scorched-earth campaign, laying waste to a broad swath of territory. Amnesty International has documented what it calls “the human price of oil” in Sudan: “a pattern of extrajudicial and indiscriminate killings, torture and rape–committed against people not taking active part in the hostilities.” Tragically, there will be more to come: The government does not yet control the richest oil deposits.”