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.

The partnership is symbolized in a photo of Suncor/PetroCanada CEO Mr. George seated beside former Syrian Prime Minister Mohammad Naji Otri. A large portrait of Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad - omnipresent in Syria - hangs over their heads. See photo: More compromising still, an advertisement for Suncor and Petro-Canada featuring President Bashar al-Assad in a construction helmet, talking to what appears to be a Petro-Canada technician, can be found on the pro-regime website Syrian Oil and Gas News, (middle of left column; also see the website, The caption reads, "Energy for today and tomorrow."

Stand with the Syrian people as they seek democratic rights and lives free from fear and torture.

1. We often feel like corporations are immune from public calls for accountability. In this case, within days of the email and phoning campaign, the corporation put on a major PR display, with videos on its website and the CEO appearing in interviews with the CBC to try and refute claims of complicity in torture. Because Syria is no longer a major news item, perhaps Suncor/PetroCanada feels it can rest easy. That is why the pressure needs to continue.

* Email or call Suncor CEO Richard George, letting him know you expect Suncor to immediately end its partnership with the Assad regime and close operations in Syria: Email: or or or or Tel.: 403-296-8000.

* Email or call your federal member of Parliament, letting them know that you expect them to publicly call on Stephen Harper to adopt sanctions on Canadian oil investments in Syria. MP contacts can be found here:

2. Join CSI Ottawa: Ending Canadian Complicity in Torture, three days of nonviolent public actions across Ottawa, October 24-26. For details contact

3. Don't forget the Suncor/PetroCanada is a leading player in the tar sands, which are destroying indigenous communities. Suncor “continues to be all about the oil sands,” a Suncor executive told an investors' conference in Toronto. “Oil sands will be the growth vehicle for the company.” (Globe and Mail, September 16, 2009)

4. Download a postcard from and sign it and mail it.

More info: Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture,,

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