Dismissing the concerns of the Tibetan Government-In-Exile and leading human rights and environmental groups, BP has declined to use its influence to stop new oil and gas projects in Chinese occupied Tibet. Tibetan rights groups responded by announcing that they would file a shareholder resolution at BP’s annual meeting, and by declaring an International Day of Action for Tibet on February 15th.
BP is both the largest foreign shareholder in PetroChina, which is the company building the Sebei-Lanzhou pipeline, and the top investor in the Chinese oil industry. In December, 54 organizations from 16 countries urged BP to either use its influence immediately or divest itself of PetroChina stock by January 15th, 2001. Dr. Chris Gibson-Smith, Group Managing Director of BP, wrote the coalition back, cynically noting that “neither request is practical or desirable.”
“We are appalled at the gap in between BP’s rhetoric in support of human rights and our experiences with the corporation – both in this letter and in person” said John Ackerly, President of the International Campaign for Tibet. “Human rights are not a public relations ploy – lives and livelihoods of people along the pipeline routes are at stake.”
Activists will take their case to the BP Annual General Meeting in London this spring, where they will file a resolution that would require BP to drop its $578 million investment in PetroChina. “BP’s reputation as a company committed to human rights has been placed at risk with the investment in PetroChina” said Alison Reynolds, Director of the Free Tibet Campaign. “We have the support of shareholders who are concerned about the financial and non-financial risks associated with PetroChina and will call on BP to withdraw from this investment.”
Tibet supporters have also already begun organizing for the International Day of Action on February 15th. “We expect hundreds of groups around the world to engage in nonviolent direct action against BP for Tibet on February 15th” said John Hocevar, Director of Students for Free Tibet. “BP can not afford to ignore Tibetans, Uyghurs or this movement any longer. If I were Sir John Browne, I’d be more than a bit worried right now.”
The Tibetan Government-In-Exile, headed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, has already called on BP to withdraw their investments from PetroChina. “Tibetans are fundamentally concerned that oil and gas exploitation on the Tibetan plateau at this time will consolidate the Chinese control and occupation of Tibet. These investments are clearly harmful to Tibetans and will be actively opposed,” said the statement delivered on September 22, 2000.