Investor coalition asks Chevron to press Myanmar government for resolution to Rohingya crisis
Groups representing more than $30 billion in assets say ‘business as usual’ must end following government escalation of violence against minority population
Falls Church, Va., 8/31/17 — Shareholders and other investor organizations delivered a letter to energy giant Chevron Corporation today, asking the company to use its leverage with the Myanmar government to end military violence against its Rohingya population. Chevron partners with a government entity in the country’s troubled western region where the military recently escalated a longstanding campaign against the minority group.
The letter reads in part:
“We believe that Chevron’s production sharing contract with the government-sponsored Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise to explore for oil and gas in the Rakhine Basin creates a special obligation for Chevron to both express its concern over recent events and to reassess its relationship with the government in light of recent developments. We cannot maintain ‘business as usual’ in a country where allegations of crimes against humanity and genocide persist.”
Rakhine state is home to Myanmar’s 1.1 million Rohingya people, an ethnic minority that has for decades faced a government-sanctioned campaign of forced relocation, violence, and persecution. Although they have lived in Myanmar (Burma) for generations, the Rohingya are not among the 135 ethnic groups the Myanmar government recognizes by law, and most of the country’s Rohingya are denied citizenship and freedom of movement.
The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said earlier this year that violations against the Rohingya may amount to crimes against humanity.
The investor letter, whose signatories represent more than $30 billion in assets, also calls on Chevron to exercise its position with the Myanmar government to encourage the implementation of recommendations from a commission chaired by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan. Those recommendations include tackling Rohingya statelessness, ending enforced segregation of the Rohingya people, granting access to basic services, and holding perpetrators of human rights violations in Rakhine state accountable.
At Chevron’s annual general meeting earlier this year, two of the letter’s signatories introduced the first shareholder resolution ever filed on behalf of the Rohingya people. Sponsored by Azzad Asset Management and the Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk, U.S. Province, the resolution asked Chevron to explore the feasibility of adopting a policy of refraining from doing business with governments that are complicit in genocide or crimes against humanity.