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oral summary presented by one of the researchers on the report at the Talisman annual meeting on May 1, 2001. The report concluded that the Sudanese government was using Talisman/GNPOC airfields to launch offensive operations against rebels.1300 Talisman, when previously confronted with the Harker report (February 2000), had maintained that airstrip use was restricted to “defensive” activities.1301 How that term was defined, and how Talisman could establish that aircraft were engaged in “defensive” or “offensive” activities after flying out of sight, was not explained.1302 Talisman admitted in its corporate responsibility report issued in April 2001 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.”1303 Despite the protests at the annual meeting and fears of becoming a takeover target,1304 CEO Jim Buckee, on a visit to Sudan in June 2001, said that Talisman would stay put in Sudan.1305 corporate social responsibility.
1300 Gagnon and Ryle, “Preliminary report,” Toronto, May 15, 2001.
1301 Charlie Gillis, “Letter to Envoy Contradicts Firm’s Earlier Denial,” National Post (Toronto), January 14, 2000.
1302 There is no such category in the rules of war for “offensive” and “defensive” activities. International humanitarian rules of war forbid targeting civilians or civilian objects, or indiscriminately attacking them. “Defensive” activities that target or indiscriminately hit civilians or civilian objects are not permissible under the rules of war. Therefore even “defensive” activities that targeted or indiscriminately hit civilians or civilian objects would be illegal.
1303 Talisman Energy, Corporate Social Responsibility 2000, p.16.
1304 “Market Snapshot: This Talisman unlikely to fend off bids,” CBS.MarketWatch.com, Calgary, June 7, 2001; Claudia Cattaneo, “Talisman wavers on Sudan: Considering offers; Oil firm spooked by U.S. moves on ownership,” Financial Post (Toronto), Calgary, June 19, 2001.
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Canadian Government Response David Kilgour, new Canadian secretary of state for Africa and Latin America, urged participants at a conference on corporate and social responsibility in Calgary in March 2001 to follow the example of his church and sell their shares in Talisman as a form of protest. He also endorsed the idea of federal legislation that would penalize Canadian companies which are complicit in human rights abuses overseas and lamented that Ottawa had not done more to require Talisman to leave Sudan.1306 The statement was not followed up by any action.
John Manley, who had replaced Lloyd Axworthy as Canadian foreign minister in November 2000, responded to the SIARG report that GNPOC airstrips were being used by the Sudanese government by saying, “If airfields are being used for offensive action against civilians, then that would be a serious breach of the norms of human rights and something of which we would strongly disapprove.”1307 He pointed to a part of the report that said that Talisman had raised its concern with the Sudanese government that the airfields not be so used, “and Canada certainly shares that concern,” he said.1308 But Foreign Minister Manley, when confronted by a member of parliament, claimed he had “no evidence” to support allegations that the Talisman airfields were used offensively by the military—despite the SIARG report.1309 A few weeks later, Minister Manley sent Senator Lois Wilson to the region to stress Canada’s support for the IGAD process to end the conflict in Sudan. In a joint statement with junior foreign minister David Kilgour, he said, “Without an end to the war there can be no sustainable progress in Sudan on important 1305 “Canada’s Talisman vows to continue oil operations in Sudan,” AFP, Khartoum, June 4, 2001.
1306 Simon Tuck and Heather Scoffield, “Federal MP targets firm’s Sudan links,” Globe and Mail (Toronto), Ottawa, March 10, 2001.
1307 Rachel Noeman, “Canada concerned on Sudan links to oil airfield,” Reuters, Cairo, May 7, 2001. John Manley was on the first leg of a regional tour when quoted. Axworthy stepped down in September 2000 as foreign minister and Manley was appointed to that position in November 2000.
1309 “Canadian MP blasts Sudanese government,” AFP, Ottawa, May 1, 2001.
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questions of human rights, development and good governance,” and criticized both sides for persistent human rights violations. Manley also urged Canadian companies active in Sudan to be “transparent” in their activities, and said that he would continue to urge the Sudanese government to use revenues from foreign investment to promote peace.
Manley pointed out that Canada would provide Canadian $100,000 (U.S. $ 64,930) in financial support for the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Sudan, decided upon during Axworthy’s tenure as foreign minister. He welcomed Talisman’s designation of a field coordinator to monitor human rights in Talisman’s area of operation. He had indicated earlier in May 2001 that the Canadian foreign ministry would not revisit the idea of imposing sanctions on Talisman.1310 The foreign minister was chastised by the ministers of religion. They pointed out that in the midst of the Sudanese government’s “unspeakably cruel campaign to kill and displace civilians in the oil concessions.
.. you call only for ‘strategies for ensuring transparency.’” Noting that, “Clearly, oil development has
become a major disincentive for peace,” they concluded that:
Sudan’s war is a terrible, long-festering wound on the conscience of humanity. Canada should strain every resource at its disposal to end it with the one ‘sanction’ the government in Khartoum would find persuasive—an end to oil revenues until there is an end to the war. The facts are already transparent enough.1311 A Canadian member of parliament (MP) in August 2001 disclosed that the Canada Pension Plan’s Investment board of directors, appointed by the government, invested Canadian $ 57.3 million (U.S. $
37.28 million) in Talisman. The MP, Maurice Vellacott, said that the Canadian government thus made all Canadians complicit in the gross human rights abuses in Sudan: “Now most Canadians have blood on their hands, thanks to the Finance Minister.” He noted that the government did not include ethical 1310 “Canada criticizes both sides in Sudan civil war,” Reuters, Ottawa, May 23, 2001; Foreign Affairs press release No. 64, “Manley and Kilgour Express Concern Over Situation in Sudan,” Ottawa, May 23, 2001.
1311 Rev. Bill Phipps and four other Canadian church leaders, letter to the Hon. John Manley, Ottawa, June 22, 2001.
guidelines for investing when it established the board in 1997, and urged the finance minister to see that the pension plan divested from Talisman swiftly.1312 The next foreign affairs minister, Bill Graham, and Senator Lois Wilson, still Canada’s Special Envoy for Sudan, condemned the attack at Bieh on February 20, 2002, and urged the Sudanese government to end all attacks against civilians and civilian installations immediately.1313 Cynical Satellite Images, 2001 Talisman reportedly paid a large sum of money for satellite photographs and analysis purportedly “proving” that there had been no forced displacement from its concession—going back to 1965.1314 These images were previewed for the press and then shown at its annual meeting on May 1, 2001. Later they were available in booklet form which Human Rights Watch received from Talisman and reviewed.
The Talisman satellite images were focused on seven locations in the GNPOC concession, some very small but including the two towns of Bentiu and Pariang (Block 1). The images, according to the commissioned analysis, tended to indicate that population in those seven places had grown, not diminished, thus proving that there had been no displacement—from the seven chosen areas. Taken on their own in the booklet as presented to the public, the images and the text are totally insufficient to 1312 Statement from the office of Maurice Vellacott, MP-Saskatoon (Canadian Alliance), Ottawa, August 2, 2001.
1313 Claudie Senay, second secretary, Canadian High Commission in Nairobi, “Canada Condemns Attacks on Civilians and Humanitarian Workers in Sudan,” email, March 5, 2002; this condemnation appeared to follow a fax to the office of the minister of foreign affairs by Gary W. Kenny, Africa Human Rights Researcher/Policy Advocate, KAIROS, Toronto, March 1, 2002, conveying his dismay at the ministry’s failure to issue an appropriate public statement, email to Human Rights Watch, March 1, 2002.
1314 Claudia Cattaneo, “Talisman fights back on Sudan displacement claims: releases aerial images,” Financial Post (Toronto), Calgary, April 19, 2001; “Kalagate Imagery Report, Sudan Oilfield Exploration Concession,” April 2001, published by Talisman
Energy, Calgary. Inside the cover is the report of Geoffrey John Oxlee, Kalagate Imagery Bureau, “Report KIB/035-1/2001, Subject:
Sudan Oilfield Exploration Concession,” April 2, 2001.
demonstrate the conclusion that this "clearly refutes a number of highly exaggerated claims of widespread displacement from our concession area."1315 The images show an increase in population of the two towns. But patterns of migration do not usually take East African agro-pastoralists into urban areas such as Bentiu and Pariang, especially not to reside there. This population increase could prove rather that the classic counterinsurgency strategy of draining the sea, that is, pushing people from rural areas into urban areas where they can be more easily controlled, is being used in Western Upper Nile/Unity State—just as human rights groups have contended. It could also tend to prove that rural agro-pastoralists had been forced into towns because of drought, raiding, or other disasters in which they lost their animals and thus their means of selfsufficiency.
Aside from the oil/government centers where gross population counts have increased, the analysis did not look at adjoining areas of the Block 1 concession that are shown on earlier maps to have a high density of settlement. Instead, the other sites selected by Talisman for examination are small rectangles immediately surrounding active oilfields, areas that have not shown up on previous maps as population centers or even clusters.
Analyzing these limited seven images, it is not difficult therefore to come to the conclusion that "there is no evidence [in the satellite imagery] of appreciable human migration from any of the seven sites examined."1316 1315 David Mann, Talisman Energy press release, “Kalagate Report Background,” in “Kalagate Imagery Report, Sudan Oilfield Exploration Concession,” Calgary, April, 2001.
1316 But the word “appreciable” gives pause. Indeed, there is some evidence buried in the text that warrants this qualification. El Toor’s images show an original indigenous village (Athonj) that disappeared from the photos in the time frame under consideration.
Another village in a different location a few kilometers away first appeared in the 2000 image, however. “Kalagate Imagery Report, Sudan Oilfield Exploration Concession,” Talisman Energy, Calgary, April 2001. Inside the cover is the report of Geoffrey John Oxlee, Kalagate Imagery Bureau, “Report KIB/035-1/2001, Subject: Sudan Oilfield Exploration Concession,” April 2, 2001, pp. 6-7.
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What these satellite photos show instead is that Talisman’s presence in Sudan resulted not in an improved human rights climate but in a better public relations machine operating on behalf of the government.1317 These satellite photos show that corporate oil partnership with Sudan, a government committing gross human rights abuses, resulted here in the oil company becoming a government publicist.1318 The best evidence of population displacement is the displaced themselves, and the agencies attempting to measure and meet their needs. Following the government’s lead, Talisman consistently avoided knowing or finding out anything about their existence, or taking steps to protect them.
Talisman Annual Meeting, May 2002 Sudan continued to occupy the attention of shareholders and management at the 2002 annual meeting in Calgary. Talisman’s role in Sudan was sharply criticized inside the meeting and by demonstrators outside.
Talisman issued its second corporate responsibility report, entitled Corporate Social Responsibility 2001 (CSRR 2001), in April 2002. It was expanded to include Talisman’s operations in Colombia, but the main focus remained on Sudan. It contained the results of an audit of data and statements conducted by Pricewaterhouse Coopers, London.
In the Corporate Social Responsibility 2001, Talisman:
1317 Indeed, since Talisman started its activities in Sudan, the constitution was suspended, a state of emergency declared in December 1999 that has lasted several years as of the writing of this report, opposition parties’ leaders jailed on flimsy charges, bombing of civilian targets in the war greatly increased, and the pace of civilians displaced from the oilfields quickened. This is not visible on the satellite images, however.
1318 Talisman devised a costly public relations technique geared to the First World press, and paid for it. It is doubtful that the Sudanese government, the Chinese, or the Malaysians would have thought of this approach alone—much less paid for it.
· Noted that the Sudanese government agreed to allow Talisman to make public the amount of revenue the government received from oil operations, a positive step in the direction of transparency;