Talisman Charged with Human Rights Violations

A class action complaint has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Talisman Energy, Inc. of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, on behalf of Rev. John Sudan Gaduel and The Presbyterian Church of Sudan and three individual plaintiffs.

"The Complaint charges Talisman, under the Alien Tort Claims Act, with violations of international law for participating in the Sudanese Government's ethnic cleansing of Christian and other non-Muslim minorities in areas of southern Sudan where Talisman is exploring for oil," according to Carey D'Avino, a director of the American Anti-Slavery Group, and Stephen A. Whinston, attorneys for the plaintiffs.

The complaint alleges that Rev. John Sudan Gaduel, Pastor of The Presbyterian Church of Sudan in Bentiu, has had churches in his Parishes bombed, church leaders slain and villages annihilated by helicopter gunships to clear the way for oil exploration. He says, "Talisman is on the front lines of human rights abuses in southern Sudan and it is time they are held accountable for their role in the brutal `jihad' that is killing my people and creating millions of refugees." Rev. Gaduel will attend the press conference and make a statement.

Filing the case on behalf of Rev. Gaduel and three additional plaintiffs still living in Sudan are attorneys Carey D'Avino and Stephen A. Whinston, both of whom were prominent participants in the recent Holocaust-related cases against Swiss, German and Austrian entities.

The complaint alleges that Talisman is engaged in an "unholy alliance" with the National Islamic Front Government of Sudan by knowingly participating in the Government's campaign of ethnic cleansing, to create a cordon sanitaire around Talisman's oil exploration, extraction and transportation infrastructure. Talisman continues to provide financial and logistical support for the Sudanese military knowing that the armed forces are engaged in a "jihad" against the non-Islamic civilians in the south. The roads and airfields built and maintained by Talisman serve as strategic military assets for the Sudanese armed forces who use them to launch bombing runs and ground attacks on civilian targets in violation of international law. Oil revenues not only earn Talisman significant profits, they also provide a war chest for the Government to purchase weapons and build munitions factories for its "jihad" against the south, which has resulted in 2 million civilian deaths, 4 million civilian refugees, and the enslavement of innocent men, women and children.

Last week, President Bush extended the national emergency and economic sanctions against Sudan for one year because of continuing human rights violations. The White House announced, "The President declared a national emergency with respect to Sudan pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Action (50 U.S.C. 1701-1706)...[because the White House has] continuing concern about its record on terrorism and the prevalence of human rights violations, including slavery, restrictions on religious freedom, and restrictions on political freedom."

According to D'Avino and Whinston, "Talisman, a New York Stock Exchange company, is engaged in a conspiracy with a morally corrupt government. Corporations cannot simply hire thugs to protect their operations and then feign surprise when the thugs commit a crime. At some point, respect for human rights and international law must not be sacrificed for the sake of the corporation's bottom line."

Carey R. D'Avino, of Carey D'Avino, P.C., and Stephen A. Whinston, of Berger & Montague, P.C., attorneys for the plaintiffs, answered questions and made copies of the complaint available at a press conference held on Thursday, November 8, 2001, at 11:00 a.m. in Mr. D'Avino's offices at 1251 Avenue of the Americas on the 42nd Floor. Contact: C. D'Avino, Esq. Tel. 212-278-1382/Fax 212-278-1733. The complaint and additional background documents are available online at bm.net and iabolish.com.