Canadian Foreign Minister John Manley yesterday issued a statement on Sudan, with a title “expressing concern over the situation.” But the statement does nothing at all to advance Canadian policy toward Sudan; it does nothing at all to halt Talisman Energy’s complicity in the oil-driven destruction of Sudan; it does nothing but indulge in vague hortatory language that cannot possibly help end a civil war in which Canadian corporate complicity must now be measured in the many, many tens of thousands of Sudanese lives destroyed or displaced to secure Talisman’s concession areas. In fact, it is a perfectly representative statement from Mr. Manley and his DFAIT bureaucracy: vacuous, callous, expedient, dishonest. Mr. Manley has now etched his name indelibly in a roster of infamy. History will record these individuals as men with the power to help end Sudan’s agony, and who chose instead political or financial gain.
Eric Reeves [May 24, 2001]
Northampton, MA 01063
Most notably, Mr. Manley has not responded to a recent Canadian/British assessment team that found clear evidence that Talisman Energy’s concession airstrips were continuing to be used by Government of Sudan helicopter gunships for brutal attacks on civilians. Despite confirming the unambiguous findings of the Harker Assessment Mission (appointed by Lloyd Axworthy), this recent assessment mission and its extraordinarily damning report are not addressed by Mr. Manley. Instead, he speaks of “expecting companies to take every precaution to ensure they will not contribute to the suffering of the civilian population in Sudan.”
What preposterously hypocritical language! Mr. Manley himself has recently acknowledged that Talisman-generated oil revenues are now flowing unfettered to the Khartoum regime for military use. And nothing “contributes” more “to the suffering of the civilian population in Sudan” than the regime’s savage military campaigns, concentrated in the oil regions. The pusillanimous Mr. Manley is capable of nothing more than this patent effort to substitute rank hypocrisy for real policy.
In this same hypocritical vein, Mr. Manley “calls on all Canadian companies active in Sudan to be transparent about their activities.” He declares that he has asked Senator (and Sudan Envoy) Lois Wilson “to discuss strategies for ensuring transparency in the use of these resources [i.e., revenues] with the Government of Sudan.” And in his final paragraph, Mr. Manley again unctuously pleads for “the spirit of transparency.”
Implied in all this flummery is the notion that somehow things in Sudan are not “transparent,” whether the issue is revenue distribution or scorched-earth warfare serving as “security” for Talisman and its partners. But as Mr. Manley well knows, there is plenty of information on these subjects, and it is “transparently” clear.
The Harker Report commissioned by his predecessor certainly reached unambiguous conclusions about the nature of Talisman’s presence in Sudan:
“The evidence we gathered, including the testimony of those directly involved, directs us to conclude that oil is exacerbating conflict in Sudan.”
“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 and the Government of Sudan as currently arranged.”
“[H]elicopter gunships and Antonov bombers of the Government of Sudan […] have armed and re-fueled at Heglig and from there attacked civilians. This is totally incontrovertible”
Why is such certainty available in January 2000, and yet Mr. Manley is still searching for “transparency” in May of 2001? Can it be that he, or his brutally callous bureaucracy, has not read the confirming reports from the UN Special Rapporteurs for Sudan, from Amnesty International, from Christian Aid, from Human Rights Watch, and from many others? Could the realities of oil development in Sudan have been presented any more authoritatively or “transparently”? Does Mr. Manley doubt the November 2000 IMF report which reveals a doubling of Khartoum’s acknowledged military expenditures since Talisman began to bring oil revenues on line for the regime? Does he doubt the meaning of Khartoum’s spokesmen when they ask, “What prevents us from fighting while we possess the oil that supports us in this battle, even if it lasts for a century?” [Education Minister Zubair Beshir Taha]
Just what is unclear, Mr. Manley?
In fact, it is not greater “transparency” that Mr. Manley wishes for; rather he wishes Sudan’s agony to become invisible again. He wants to be freed from having to respond at all to this annoyingly massive human destruction, and the discomfiting fact that a Canadian corporation is obviously, deeply, “transparently” complicit in genocidal destruction. It evidently takes time away from his schedule of important activities to read and sign off on this boilerplate.
Mr. Manley asked to be provided, and has received, a document that seems to “express concern over the situation in Sudan.” But in this “seeming” lies the extent of his response to Sudan’s agony. He mentions Talisman Energy, but only in a fashion that insures they feel no real pressure from the Government of Canada. He simply ignores the compellingly documented use of Talisman’s facilities for ongoing and immensely destructive air assaults on civilians. In the end, he has been content to give mere lip-service to Sudan; and in doing no more he has disgraced himself, his office, and a Canadian tradition of deep respect for human rights and security.
But in such moral failure he creates for Canadians, and friends of Canada, a clear obligation: they must express in the strongest possible terms their abhorrence of this politically expedient disingenuousness. They must communicate their views directly, unrelentingly, passionately until Canada has regained its moral credibility in responding to Sudan’s unrivalled catastrophe.
Foreign ministry coordinates:
John Manley, Minister of Foreign Affairs:
Pierre Leger, Senior Advisor to John Manley:
Andrew Robinson, bureaucrat in chief for Sudan:
Gordon Houlden, vice-regent bureaucrat for Sudan:
Mr. Manley’s May 23, 2001 statement is available on the Web at: