Sudan Oil Exports Draw Protests

Christians urge divestment from Canadian company.
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While the government of Sudan is rejoicing these days over the crude oil it began exporting in late August, oil revenues may be fueling Sudan's protracted and bloody civil war.

The Religious Liberty Commission of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (RLC) is the latest to add its voice to the mounting protest against Talisman Energy, which owns a 25 percent share of the multinational conglomerate that is pumping oil from southern Sudan. The RLC has written both to the president of the Calgary, Alberta-based company and to Canada's minister of foreign affairs, Lloyd Axworthy.

In addition, the Canadian Inter-Church Coalition on Africa (ICCAF) has been negotiating with Talisman president James Buckee and with the Canadian government for about a year. ICCAF coordinator Gary Kenny says the government could use legislation to stop Talisman from operating in Sudan. But David Kilgour, Canada's secretary of state for Africa and a Presbyterian, says there are no measures that can be used without cutting off Canada's humanitarian aid to the African nation.

Talisman president Buckee is quick to return calls from human-rights organizations and church groups, but slow to admit there is a problem with drilling in Sudan. He does not believe there is a slave trade in Sudan, or that there is persecution of Christians. "It looked fine to me," he says of a visit to the drilling area. But just in case of attack from rebels, he notes, the Sudanese army is standing guard at the pipeline.

For some Christians, the issue is complicated because their denominations own shares of Talisman stock. So far, the dozen Canadian churches and organizations holding shares have tried repeatedly to get the company to follow strict standards in its dealings with Sudan. ...

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