Today the Canadian Ecumenical Mission to Sudan reported on its recent assessment trip to the oil regions of southern Sudan—and it details extraordinary human destruction and suffering related to oil development. Also today, Talisman Energy issued its “corporate social responsibility report”—a slick and elaborate effort at obscuring its complicity in the oil-driven destruction of Sudan.
But even Talisman can’t force “auditors” PriceWaterhouseCoopers to fudge the basic fact: “We [PriceWaterhouseCoopers] did not visit any sites in the south of Sudan outside the concession area.”
Eric Reeves [April 10, 2001]
Northampton, MA 01063
Talisman’s lengthy, extremely slick report is replete with comforting photographic images, soporific redundancy, belabored explanations of the irrelevant, massive evasion—and an evidently treasured imprimatur from PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC). But as PWC makes perfectly clear, their audit was limited to what they could find in the now completely subdued concession area to which Talisman and the Government of Sudan gave them access.
They did not visit any of the current areas where active scorched-earth warfare is underway; they did not visit Talisman’s new operational areas in the immense Block 4 (larger than Unity and Heglig Fields combined); and they certainly did not look at areas in Western Upper Nile and Bahr el-Ghazal where the ghastly consequences of oil development and “security” are in evidence.
The task of gathering data from these areas fell to the Canadian church leaders who went into Sudan from the south, having been denied visas by the Government of Sudan. Their report is quite different from the Talisman whitewash:
“The mission spent a week (April 1-7) visiting areas hard hit by the war just south of the oil fields. They met with the most vulnerable people—civilians, women, children and the internally displaced—as well as church and local authorities.
“We listened to accounts of slaughter and burnings from people who had fled for their lives days earlier. Some displaced persons told us ‘They (the government) want our land without us.’
“Sudanese Church leaders with whom the delegation met described the tactics of the Khartoum government as ‘genocidal.”
Talisman speaks in their ponderous, “flow chart”-heavy report incessantly of seeking to “promote,” to “encourage,” to develop” various good things. They note their community development efforts (less than $1 million [US] for 2000. What was only quietly noted was that even as Talisman is earning hundreds of millions of dollars from its exploitation, it has virtually no control over the actions of the Khartoum regime’s “security” practices, i.e., the forced population removals from oil areas, the torched and strafed villages, the destroyed cattle and foodstuffs, the raped women, the enslaved children.
Unsurprisingly, the Canadian Ecumenical Mission reports in starkly different terms on the realities of areas not under Government of Sudan control, and beyond Talisman’s disingenuous greed:
“We are outraged that a Canadian company is a major producer of oil located in southern Sudan, paying huge royalties to the ‘unaccountable northern military dictatorship’ led by General Omar al Bashir. We hold the Bashir government largely responsible for the atrocities committed against southern Sudanese peoples.
“We cannot disguise the fact that a major factor in the suffering of millions of innocent people is the rapid exploration, development and production of oil located in the south and which has killed and displaced untold numbers of people, forcing them to flee their homes and land for an uncertain future.”
Their primary recommendation is based on these findings:
“Declare a moratorium on all aspects of oil development in Sudan
(including Talisman’s operations). The moratorium should include
exploration, infrastructure-building, drilling, extraction and sale of oil until a just peace has been negotiated, beginning with a verifiable cessation of hostilities.”
Such a recommendation comports—no doubt to Talisman’s immense embarrassment—with an assessment that PriceWaterhouseCoopers included in its solicitation of views on the presence of oil companies in Sudan:
“Oil at the moment is a disincentive for peace, where we believe it could be an incentive if the revenues were share to develop the south.” [Director of a Nairobi-based International NGO operating in southern Sudan]
Oil is indeed the profoundest disincentive for peace, something the Harker Assessment Mission Report found over a year ago:
“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.”
Despite the bloated verbosity that is Talisman’s effort to change the subject, to ignore the role of oil development in sustaining and exacerbating conflict in Sudan, the subject of the moment is clear: either Canada finds the means to halt oil development pending a just peace, or Canada becomes responsible for the rapacious complicity of its largest oil company.
That is the subject; Canada’s response seems uncertain; the moral disgrace that will proceed from a refusal to restrain Talisman can be defined by the tens of thousands of innocent men, women, and children whose lives have been, or will be destroyed by Talisman’s ongoing operations.
“Oil at the moment is a disincentive for peace, where we believe it could be an incentive if the revenues were shared to develop the South.”
Director of a Nairobi-Based International NGO Operating in Southern Sudan
April 10, 2001
“Stop the oil, start the peace,
“Despite the Company’s [Talisman’s] stated position regarding the use of the Heglig airstrip and advocacy efforts in this regard, we believe that there were at least four instances of non-defensive usage of the Heglig airstrip in 2000.
On these occasions helicopters or planes landed on
the airstrip for reasons that we could not determine
were related to oilfield security and their presence was
considered non-defensive by Talisman.”
“We did not visit any sites in the south of Sudan outside the concession area”
March 6, 2001
2003 2002 2001 2000
USE OF OILFIELD INFRASTRUCTURE
The creation of oilfield infrastructure in the concession
area, especially the construction of roads, has the
potential to positively impact local communities. Pursuant
to the concession agreements, oilfield infrastructure is
legally owned by the Government of Sudan and not under
direct Talisman control. However, the use of oilfield
infrastructure for non-defensive military purposes is of
great concern to Talisman. We have, and will continue to
make, our concerns known to our partners and to the
Government of Sudan.
The GNPOC Code of Ethics 5 adopted in September
2000 contains the principle of “refraining from availing
the company resources for political, tribal and armed
conflicts”. The draft security agreement also addresses
the use of oilfield infrastructure and proposes that the
Government of Sudan refrain from undertaking any
offensive activity that directly or indirectly uses any
property or assets owned, leased or operated by GNPOC
or involving the participation of any GNPOC employees
Talisman recognizes that the clear definition of offensive
and conversely defensive security activity is a critical
component of this agreement. Talisman defines
defensive security support as that which assists those
forces legitimately deployed within the concession area
to protect personnel and property and which, in achieving
those objectives, uses a proportionate level of force.
Offensive activity is defined as anything outside the
parameters defined as defensive.
“The main problems in the oilfield area is the forced movements of populations.
Access to grazing land is a good example. For the security of oil operations,
trees are fallen and grass is regularly burnt in oil concessions. Therefore, pasture
for cattle has drastically reduced. The original inhabitants of the area are
pastoralists. If they (do not) have access to grazing lands, their food security is
at threat and they are forced to leave. Building a clinic or a water tower will
never balance forced movements of populations. Development work is coming
too late if the population has been forced to move.”
International NGO, Khartoum
Statement by the Canadian Ecumenical Mission to Sudan
April 10, 2001
“Stop the oil, start the peace,” Canadian churches say.
We, five Canadian senior church leaders who returned from Sudan April 9, call for a moratorium on oil development in war-ravaged southern Sudan, including that of Calgary-based Talisman Energy.
We also insist that an accelerated peace process is critically linked to the moratorium. The Canadian government should take high-level diplomatic and practical initiatives to support African nations in bringing about a speedy end to a vicious and brutal civil war.
Conflict has raged in Sudan almost since 1956. The current civil war, which began in 1983, has killed two million people and displaced more than four million. There are many conflicting parties but the major struggle in Africa’s largest country is between the government in the north and the people of the south, the Nuba Mountains, and other marginalized areas.
The mission spent a week (April 1-7) visiting areas hard hit by the war just south of the oil fields. They met with the most vulnerable people—civilians, women, children and the internally displaced—as well as church and local authorities.
We listened to accounts of slaughter and burnings from people who had fled for their lives days earlier. Some displaced persons told us “They (the government) want our land without us.”
Sudanese Church leaders with whom the delegation met described the tactics of the Khartoum government as “genocidal”.
The systematic bombings, attacks on civilian targets, forced displacement of civilian populations, mass starvation and other acts of terrorism that have been well documented by human rights agencies require urgent action by the international community.
We were particularly moved by meetings with people who in terror had fled their defenseless villages under attack by government troops and the militias they support, and were forced to leave behind their dead and injured relatives, including women, children and the elderly.
We are outraged that a Canadian company is a major producer of oil located in southern Sudan, paying huge royalties to the “unaccountable northern military dictatorship” led by General Omar al Bashir. We hold the Bashir government largely responsible for the atrocities committed against southern Sudanese peoples.
We cannot disguise the fact that a major factor in the suffering of millions of innocent people is the rapid exploration, development and production of oil located in the south and which has killed and displaced untold numbers of people, forcing them to flee their homes and land for an uncertain future.
Our mission, composed of the major Christian denominations in Canada, was invited to visit the country by the Sudan and New Sudan Councils of Churches, the former based in Khartoum, the latter representing churches in the south which has its administrative offices in Nairobi and a wide network of churches and field operations inside southern Sudan.
Just before we left Canada March 26, the government in Khartoum did not grant us visas to visit the north for reasons that are not clear.
Our team flew to Lokichoggio in northern Kenya, after briefings with the NSCC, Canadian diplomats, and NGOs in Nairobi. In Lokichoggio we visited the largest on-going humanitarian relief program in the world run by the UN and Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS), which is trying to alleviate the suffering of millions
Of war-affected southern Sudanese.
We also visited nearby Kakuma refugee camp which shelters 71,000 people, mostly southern Sudanese, who have been forced to flee their homeland into what amounts to semi-permanent enforced exile.
While oil is not the only factor in the war, the revenues from the
oil, especially those which accrue to the Khartoum government, are
making the conflict far more dangerous and destructive. Sudanese
government leaders have acknowledged that oil revenues are being used to purchase weapons and build munitions factories.
We believe the government now thinks it can win the war militarily and seems to want to crush all opposition groups in the north and south.
“We need peace first and oil later,” many Sudanese told us. We agree with them and that is why we, along with the Sudanese churches, are calling for a total moratorium on oil development until peace is in place.
However, simply stopping oil development is not enough to bring peace. Canada, which has played a constructive role in the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) peace process for Sudan, must provide more political, diplomatic and material support to this African initiative in bringing the war to an end.
We, the Canadian Ecumenical Mission to Sudan, call for the following steps to be taken urgently by Canada and the international community:
*Declare a moratorium on all aspects of oil development in Sudan
(including Talisman’s operations). The moratorium should include
exploration, infrastructure-building, drilling, extraction and sale of oil until a just peace has been negotiated, beginning with a verifiable cessation of hostilities;
*Extend additional support to IGAD. This difficult process needs time, resources and the best technical expertise from all relevant countries.
*Immediately act to develop or strengthen legislation to prevent
corporations from exploiting situations of conflict for financial gain.
*Canada and other governments should, more frequently and publicly, condemn human rights violations by all parties in the conflict. Current human rights abuses include the enforced displacement of peoples, abduction, enslavement and terrorism, particularly against women and children, and the denial of religious liberty.
*Increase pressure to end the use of starvation as a weapon of war and guarantee the unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid to all war-affected peoples in northern and southern Sudan.
*We call on the churches and other NGOs to mobilize additional
educational, health and developmental resources to be made available to communities throughout Sudan through the organizations that are already on the ground, especially indigenous organizations such as the Sudan and New Sudan Councils of Churches.
At the beginning of this Holy Week, we call the churches to urgent prayer for the healing of this bleeding wound in the body of humanity. We plead with all our fellow Canadians to engage this painful reality and open many doors to hope and peace for the people of Sudan.
The mission had two objectives:
*to demonstrate the solidarity of Canadian churches with the
suffering church and people of Sudan; and
*to use the experiences of the visit to mobilize support by the
Canadian churches and their members, all citizens and the government for more effective Canadian policies on Sudan.
Members of the mission are: Ms. A.J. Finlay, Anglican Church of Canada, Toronto; Very Rev. William Phipps, immediate past Moderator, United Church of Canada, Calgary; Ms. Janet Somerville, general secretary, Canadian Council of Churches (CCC), Toronto; Most Rev. Donald Theriault, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Ottawa; and Rev. Art Van Seters, past moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, Toronto.