CALGARY, May 1, 2012 - Canadians rallied in support around Peruvian indigenous leaders who spoke out against Talisman in the company's Annual General Meeting of shareholders today. Thirty Canadian environmental organizations, First Nations and unions issued a statement calling on Talisman Energy to respect the demands of the Achuar people, the majority of whom have repeatedly insisted Talisman leave their ancestral territory.
A similar message was echoed by dozens of protestors gathered outside the meeting and by the Green Party of Canada, who issued a press statement yesterday in support of the Achuar.
"This is the fourth time that my people have sent a delegation to Calgary. Talisman is operating in our territory without our consent and they must leave," said Peas Peas Ayui, President of the National Achuar Federation of Peru (FENAP). "Talisman continues to ignore our demands and is attempting to divide our people as they drill for oil on our ancestral lands."
The Achuar delegation recently traveled to Ottawa where they met with 11 New Democratic Party (NDP) Members of Parliament and Green and Liberal party representatives to build solidarity in their efforts to defend their territory from oil development. The delegation continued on to Fort McMurray to meet with Canadian First Nations and learn from their experience of oil development in Canada.
"Talisman says there will be no contamination as a result of their use of advanced technology, but we know that science and technology can fail," said Ampush Ayui Chayat, a representative of the Achuar organization ATI. "There has already been contamination around exploratory wells. Any accident where Talisman is drilling would irreversibly destroy the heart of our ancestral territory."
The statement issued today by a diverse coalition of 30 indigenous, environmental and human rights organizations and unions also called on the Canadian government to refrain from funding or otherwise supporting companies that operate without free, prior and informed consent. Since 2006 Export Development Canada (EDC) has dispersed four loans, each ranging from $100-$250 million, to Talisman.
Yesterday in a private meeting between Talisman and the Achuar, CEO John Manzoni claimed his company is not operating in areas of Peru where the company is not wanted, despite having never consulted or visited the majority of Achuar people living within its oil concession. A recent report by the North South Institute on Talisman's activities in Peru also calls into question Manzoni's claims:
"Through our fieldwork and analysis, we were not able to identify any situation where the community and its decision-making bodies on all levels, including assemblies, had granted their free, prior and informed consent for exploration activities."
Background: The Achuar people live on both sides of the Peru-Ecuador border in the Amazon rainforest. Since 2004 Calgary-based Talisman Energy has been drilling exploratory wells in a remote watershed in the heart of Achuar territory in an important hunting a fishing grounds, despite strong opposition from the majority of Achuar people who live in Oil Block 64, which overlaps the majority of Achuar territory in Peru. Talisman is accused of creating divisions and provoking conflict in the region in efforts to get sign-off on their drilling in local communities, and continues to ignore calls from Achuar leadership to leave Achuar territory.
The delegation has arrived in Calgary to demand that Talisman Energy cease oil drilling in their ancestral territory. The group recently visited Ottawa, where they met with members of Parliament and NGO allies; and Fort McMurray, where they worked to build alliances with First Nations and raise awareness about Talisman's abuses against their rights. They will continue on to Vancouver May 3-6 and Haida Gwaii, BC May 6-8 before return to the Peruvian Amazon.
By submitting a comment you consent to our rules. You must use your real first and last name, not a nickname or alias. A comment here is just like a letter to the editor or a post on Facebook. Thank you.