Shareholders press Chevron to cut business ties with Myanmar
Two shareholder groups in the U.S. oil giant Chevron have asked the company to cut business ties with Myanmar over the humanitarian disaster and human right violations against country’s ethnic minority – the Rohingya Muslims.
To remind, nine Myanmar police officers were killed November in several attacks on border posts along Myanmar’s border with Bangladesh.
The government said the assailants were from a Rohingya Muslim minority, who received „financial support from extremist individuals in some Middle Eastern countries.”
Following the attacks, the security forces sweeped the Maungdaw district in the Rakhine state where majority of Rohignya live, looking for insurgents. However, the government’s security forces have then allegedly committed summary killings, sexual violence, and other rights abuses against Rohingya.
Reuters has reported that at least 86 people have died and an estimated 27,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since Oct. 9.
The official Myanmar dismissed the reports as “fabricated” and not corresponding with the “real situation on the ground.”
According to Reuters, humanitarian organizations and independent media are not allowed into the area.
In light of these developments Azzad Asset Management, which describes itself as a socially responsible investment firm, and the Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk, a Roman Catholic congregation, have filed a shareholder resolution calling on oil company Chevron to evaluate a policy of not doing business with Myanmar authorities “which are believed to be engaged in genocide or crimes against humanity.”
The two organizations, both Chevron shareholders, said on Monday that the proposed resolution urges the oil giant to halt its relationship with the government of Myanmar until that country ‘ends the state-sanctioned violence against its Rohingya minority.’
According to Azzad, this is the first time a shareholder resolution focused on the Rohingya has been submitted to a U.S. corporation.
The proposal was prepared in consultation with the International Campaign for the Rohingya and is expected to be voted on by Chevron’s stockholders at the meeting in May 2017. The stockholders will be introduced to the situation in Myanmar regarding the Rohingya people which, according to the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights, ‘might amount to crimes against humanity.’
Bashar Qasem, CEO of Azzad, said: “As a socially responsible asset manager, we seek social as well as financial returns on our clients’ investments. By conducting business with a government that is accused of committing grave human rights abuses, Chevron has assumed significant legal, moral, reputational, and political liabilities stemming from Burma’s (Myanmar’s) repression and violence against the Rohingya people.”
Chevron did not respond to Offshore Energy Today’s emails seeking comment.
The California-based company has been operating in Myanmar under a production sharing contract (PSC) through its subsidiary Unocal Myanmar Offshore with the state-owned Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE).
The company’s PSC area, Block A5, lies 125 miles (200 km) offshore northwest of Yangon and covers more than 2.6 million acres (10,600 sq. km). Unocal Myanmar Offshore is the operator of the block with a 99 percent interest. Royal Marine Engineering, a Myanmar company, holds the remaining interest in the block.
UN calls for ‘access’
In a statement on Friday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein warned the Government of Myanmar that its “short-sighted, counterproductive, even callous” approach to handling the crisis in northern Rakhine – including its failure to allow independent monitors access to the worst affected areas – could have grave long-term repercussions for the country and the region.
“The repeated dismissal of the claims of serious human rights violations as fabrications, coupled with the failure to allow our independent monitors access to the worst affected areas in northern Rakhine, is highly insulting to the victims and an abdication of the Government’s obligations under international human rights law,” Zeid said.
The High Commissioner said he was deeply disappointed that the UN Human Rights Office’s persistent request for access had still not been approved, particularly given the alarming allegations of human rights violations – including killings, rapes and the burning of Rohingya homes – that are reported to the Office on a daily basis.
“If the authorities have nothing to hide, then why is there such reluctance to grant us access? Given the continued failure to grant us access, we can only fear the worst.”
Offshore Energy Today Staff