The New Year is typically an occasion for celebration and forward looking. But for the people of southern Sudan, the new year looms ominously—and is all too likely to bring the same oil-generated terror, suffering, and destruction that have marked this past year. So in place of celebration or anticipation, I offer for somber reflection this compendium of the year’s commentary—commentary which reveals just how disgracefully complicit Talisman Energy is in Sudan’s agony.
Eric Reeves [December 22, 2000]
Northampton, MA 01063
 Peter Dalglish, The Globe and Mail (Toronto), February18, 2000
[Peter Dalgish is a lawyer, the author of The Courage of Children, and the founder of Street Kids International. He directed Canada’s national youth service between 1993 and 1996. He comments here on the basis of his experience in Sudan.]
“And so I cannot remain mute when the president of a Canadian oil company dismisses as ‘hearsay’ an October 1999 UN report cataloging human-rights abuses by the government in Khartoum, including the forced clearing of African-Sudanese people living near the oil fields to make way for oil development.
“According to Jim Buckee of Talisman Energy Inc., Sudan is a ‘friendly, peaceful place’ — this despite the fact that the 16-year-old war has claimed two million lives. According to Human Rights Watch, Sudanese government forces have committed ‘gross abuses of international law,’ including looting of civilian property, enslaving women and children, the use of anti-personnel landmines, torture, and the aerial bombardment of civilian targets.
 The Harker Report, commissioned by Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy (January 2000):
“We also learn, and have reported, that flights clearly linked to the oil war have been a regular feature of life at [Talisman’s] Heglig airstrip, which is adjacent to the workers’ compound. It is operated by the consortium, and Canadian chartered helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft which use the strip have shared the facilities with helicopter gunships and Antonov bombers of the Government of Sudan. These have armed and re-fuelled at Heglig and from there attacked civilians.”
“We can only conclude that Sudan is a place of extraordinary suffering and continuing human rights violations, and the oil operations in which a Canadian company [Talisman Energy] is involved add more suffering.”
“It is difficult to imagine a cease-fire while oil extraction continues, and almost impossible to do so if revenues keep flowing to the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company partners [Talisman Energy and their Malaysian and Chinese partners] and the Government of Sudan as currently arranged.”
 Jim Buckee, CEO of Talisman Energy, quoted in The Globe and Mail (Toronto):
“There’s a huge machine generating false things about Sudan and it’s very hard to separate fact from fiction.”
 Report on Talisman’s credibility from The Globe and Mail, October 23, 2000:
“[CARE, Oxfam, and four other humanitarian organizations working in Sudan were signatories to a letter that contains the following]:
‘We strongly object to Talisman’s allegations that they are working together as a team with the international humanitarian community.’
United Nations Children’s Fund representative in Sudan, Thomas Ekvall, put the matter bluntly: ‘We cannot risk the lives of our staff by associating ourselves with any of the oil companies working here,’ he said. ‘The statement made by Talisman was false.'”
 Amnesty International, “Sudan—The Human Cost of Oil,” May 3, 2000:
“Foreign companies [Talisman is specifically cited in the Amnesty report a number of times] are turning a blind eye to the human rights violations committed by the government security forces and their allied troops in the name of protecting the security of oil-producing areas.”
“The silence of powerful oil companies in the face of injustice and human rights violations is not neutral.”
“There is a clear connection between the new-found oil wealth and the government[of Sudan’s] ability to purchase arms.”
“A direct link between the nature of the war and guarantees for security for oil exploration by foreign oil companies became most obvious in intensified warfare in the beginning of 1999 [Talisman entered Sudan late in 1998].”
 Stephen Lewis, Canada’s distinguished former UN Ambassador, and Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund [Globe and Mail, September 14, 2000]:
“Talisman Energy is a ‘terrible cross of dishonour’ for Canada.”
 The report of the UN Special Rapporteur for Sudan, Dr. Leonardo Franco (August 2000):
“Oil exploitation in western Upper Nile [has] seriously exacerbated the conflict, thereby deteriorating the overall situation of human rights and the respect for humanitarian law, as well as narrowing the slim chances for peace.”
“The situation [in the oil regions where Talisman is working] worsened with the beginning of oil exploration and continued to deteriorate over the years through the periodic offensive launched by the government and its allies, resulting in destruction and mass population displacement.”
 Jim Buckee, CEO of Talisman, in the Globe and Mail, October 21, 1999:
[Talisman’s oil fields] are in the midst of a vast, open plain. The fields are almost completely covered by water in the rainy season and there are virtually no permanent towns or settlements. Certainly, we have seen no evidence of any removals of people.
 “Carnage In Sudan,” From the Washington Post, October 31, 2000 — By Rabbi Irving Greenberg, chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council and Jerome Shestack, chairman of its Committee on Conscience.
“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.
“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?'”
 From The Telegraph (UK), March 28, 2000
W. F. Deedes, in Western Upper Nile [oil region in which Talisman operates]
“As a local official from Nhialdiu, the first village I visited, had observed to Canada’s mission: ‘Civilians, cattle, children have been killed, homes burned. We don’t think we are included in the human rights of the world.’ Even relief flights run by Operation Lifeline Sudan have been banned in the area since last summer.
What, one then wondered, has been the attitude of Talisman to all this? Dr. James Buckee, the British-born president and chief executive of Talisman, wrote to reassure Mr. Axworthy: ‘Corporate ethics has always been a strong internal priority at Talisman.’ The mind reels.”
 Human Rights Watch, annual report on Sudan (December 2000):
“[T]he government stepped up its brutal expulsions of southern villagers from the oil production areas and trumpeted its resolve to use the oil income for more weapons. Under the leadership of President (Lt. Gen.) Omar El Bashir, the government intensified its bombing of civilian targets in the war, denied relief food to needy civilians, and abused children’s rights, particularly through its military and logistical support for the Ugandan rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which held an estimated 6,000 Ugandan children captive on government-controlled Sudanese territory.”
“Fighting spread further into the southern area of Western Upper Nile, inhabited mainly by the African Nuer. The government continued its campaign of creating a cordon sanitaire around new oil fields by forcibly displacing the Nuer population. In addition to aerial bombardment and scorched-earth attacks by government troops, the government armed Nuer proxies to fight against anti-government Nuer. The government routinely banned U.N. relief aircraft from Western Upper Nile on security grounds, although its military campaigns produced tens of thousands of freshly displaced civilians, who were burned and looted out of their homes by pro-government Nuer militia and the government army.”
“The government announced that its new oil revenue, constituting 20 percent of its 2000 revenue, would be used for defense, including an arms factory near Khartoum. Defense spending in dollars increased 96 percent from 1998 to 2000. Not coincidentally, government use of air power and bombing increased.”
 [from Reuters news wire, January 13, 2000]
“Abdelbagi Kabir, deputy director of Sudan’s peace and
humanitarian affairs department, said Khartoum was not
overly concerned about what the [Harker] report [on Talisman’s activities in the oil regions] might say.
‘We are very relaxed. We know what we’re doing. We believe
we’re doing the right thing and we are not worried about what
the special envoy is going to write because Sudan is an open
country,’ he told the conference call.
Kabir said the investment by Talisman and others showed there was no truth to the idea that Sudan was a deeply divided state with fundamental internal problems.
‘We (think this) foreign investment [by Talisman] could only be evidence of tranquillity and a prosperous atmosphere,’ he said.”
And from the previous year,
The Ottawa Citizen, October 18, 1999
“Increasingly, Sudan is becoming a source of relative regional stability and we hope it will play an even greater role in the future.” — Jim Buckee, CEO of Talisman Energy