Amazon Watch's Statement on Talisman's Oil Project in the Peruvian Amazon
Talisman Urged to Suspend Operations in Block 64 Pending Resolution of Conflict with Indigenous Communities
- November 11, 2008
- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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Paul Paz y Miño, 510-281-9020 x302 or firstname.lastname@example.org
(San Francisco, CA)-Amazon Watch issues this statement following a telephone meeting yesterday with officials from the Calgary-based Talisman Energy. The meeting was held to discuss the growing controversy surrounding the company's activities in Achuar peoples' territory in Northern Peruvian Amazon, in an area known as block 64.
During the meeting with Talisman officials, Amazon Watch raised concern about a recent ultimatum issued by Achuar and neighboring indigenous communities demanding that the company leave their territory by November 15 or face blockades and work stoppages. Amazon Watch called on Talisman to suspend its plans to drill a new well in December as a good faith gesture to diffuse current tensions and to demonstrate that it is truly concerned about obtaining the consent from all the communities within block 64. Amazon Watch reminded the company officials of the commitment Talisman CEO John Manzoni made publicly to the Achuar in April at the company's annual meeting that it would only operate in areas where it had the consent of the communities (view letter from CEO John Manzoni).
Amazon Watch conveyed to the company that its activities are fomenting divisions among indigenous communities and even within families. Talisman's current practice of narrowly defining which affected communities it will engage with and using savvy community relations tactics to get "buy in" from a handful of communities fails constitute meaningful engagement for obtaining a social license to operate. The vast majority of the indigenous communities within block 64 representing more than 80 percent of the block are strongly opposed to the entry of the company including the communities that will be directly affected by the new wells.
For Talisman to be in compliance with international law and industry best practices, the company should strive to obtain free, prior, and informed consent of all of indigenous peoples whose territories, resources, culture, and way of life are adversely affected by the company's operations. To be genuine, the process must meet the benchmarks stipulated in international legal instruments such as UN Convention ILO 169 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Amazon Watch warned Talisman of the potential risk the company's plans pose in provoking violence between security forces and the communities as well as among community members. Talisman officials were urged to conduct a risk assessment of the situation given their adherence to the "Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights" and asked to provide a response within the next few days to Amazon Watch's request for a suspension of its drilling plans.