Friday, September 30, 2011

Suncor/PetroCanada Must Stop Fueling Syrian Repression

"Some of the dead, who include children, were also mutilated either before or after death in particularly grotesque ways apparently intended to strike terror into the families to whom their corpses were returned." – Amnesty International, August 30, 2011

Although the Canadian government has instituted sanctions against the Syrian regime, the oil and gas sector, which earns the regime about $3 billion per year, remains untouched by Canadian sanctions.

Take Action, Contact both Suncor/PetroCanada executives and your MPs and demand that Suncor/PetroCanada leave Syria immediately

The atrocities no longer garner media attention, but over 3,000 Syrian people have been murdered by the Assad regime since peaceful demonstrations began earlier this year. Over 12,000 have been imprisoned, with untold numbers tortured to death (including children). Although Canadian oil giant Suncor/PetroCanada left Libya soon after the crackdown on protests there, the oil giant has refused to leave Syria, even though its operations financially support the Syrian regime. According to Human Rights Watch, "Under Syrian law the government is the major shareholder in the oil and gas sector through its ownership of the Syrian National Gas and Syrian National Oil companies [now replaced by the General Petroleum Corporation (GPC)]. These two companies have a 50 percent share in every oil and gas project in Syria."

In March 2010, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated that the Syrian government earns around €2.1 billion (about CND$3 billion) from oil and gas per year.

Given that 50% of all profits from oil and gas operations in Syria are shared with the Syrian regime, Suncor/PetroCanada's continued presence there is a major vote of confidence in brutality, torture, and mass murder.

Amnesty International reported earlier this month that "The sharp rise in the number of reported deaths in custody has been one of the most shocking features of the government’s bloody crackdown on the protests. No less than 88 such deaths have been reported to Amnesty International as occurring during the period from 1 April and 15 August 2011, a figure for four and a half months which is already many times higher than the yearly average over recent years. In at least 52 of these cases, there is evidence that torture caused or contributed to the deaths, a concern exacerbated by reports of widespread torture in detention centres in recent months. Some of the dead, who include children, were also mutilated either before or after death in particularly grotesque ways apparently intended to strike terror into the families to whom their corpses were returned."

Asked about the role that Suncor is playing in the brutal repression in Syria, Suncor/PetroCanada CEO Richard L. George told The Current (CBC Radio) on August 19th, "We're actually not connected to the Assad regime in any way. ... We operate with a partner in Syria, the General Petroleum Corporation, which is a state corporation." (

But being partners with the state-owned General Petroleum Corporation (GPC) does tie Suncor/PetroCanada to the regime. The state corporation reports directly to the Syrian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Sufian Allaw. In any case, there is no effective distance between state, regime and government in Syria. Suncor/PetroCanada works in alliance with the Syrian regime.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

CSI Ottawa: Ending Canadian Involvement in Torture

CSI Ottawa: Ending Canadian Involvement in Torture
October 24-26, 2011

Join us for three days of public witness, vigils, speakouts, and walks throughout Ottawa as we shine a spotlight on Canadian institutions, public and private, that are complicit in the torture of human beings. Details of getting involved are at the bottom of this email.

Quite simply, because the Government of Canada condones torture, and there are crime scenes throughout the city where evidence of this complicity has been found by courts, judicial inquiries, and other venues. Examples of such institutions include the RCMP, CSIS, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Dept. of Justice, and the War Department. Secrecy has repeatedly been invoked to prevent further evidence of such complicity from entering the public sphere, and those who have made criminal decisions leading to torture have not been charged and held to account.

Clearly, yellow crime scene tape needs to go up all over the city.

October 21 will mark three years since a secretive federal inquiry found the government of Canada complicit in the torture of Canadians Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin. Yet the government refuses to accept the findings of its own inquiry, an inquiry in which only its side of the complicity in torture was heard, an inquiry in which none of those who were tortured, nor their lawyers, nor the public, nor the media were allowed to attend. And even with the cards stacked so much in favour of the government, the government was found to be complicit. Now that these three men seek an apology, compensation, and accountability, the government questions the fact that they have been tortured.

October will also mark 28 months since a report from the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security of the House of Commons called for an immediate apology for all thee men, along with compensation "for the suffering they endured and the difficulties they encountered." The committee released a report that also called on the federal government to "do everything necessary to correct misinformation that may exist in records administered by national security agencies in Canada or abroad with respect to" the three men and their family members.
(full report: )

Importantly, the Committee called on "the Government of Canada [to] issue a clear ministerial directive against torture and the use of information obtained from torture for all departments and agencies responsible for national security. The ministerial directive must clearly state that the exchange of information with countries is prohibited when there is a credible risk that it could lead, or contribute, to the use of torture."

On December 3, 2009, that report and its recommendations were endorsed by the majority of the House of Commons. The Harper government refused to act on the will of the majority of the House of Commons.

The rationale behind CSI Ottawa: Ending Canadian Involvement in Torture is to place renewed focus on federal institutions in Ottawa that are complicit in the torture of Canadian citizens, refugees, and immigrants, as well as citizens of countries occupied by Canadian forces. While Canada’s broader complicity in torture will provide an educational backdrop for the week’s events, the specific demands will be:

the federal government's acknowledgement of and implementation of the Standing Committee’s recommendations;
that the Harper government act immediately on the December, 2009 majority vote of the House of Commons endorsing that report;
the full release of all documents related to these cases to the men and their lawyers;
acts of accountability to ensure such actions never again occur.