Wednesday, May 26, 2010

HOUSTON: Chevron arrests Truthtellers

Contact: Sangita Nayak, 414 412 4518, emailsangita@gmail.com
Diana Pei Wu, 510 333 3889, dianapeiwu@gmail.com

Chevron denies access to shareholder representatives in bid to silence truth about its human right and environmental impacts
Photos: Mitchel Anderson with Amazon Watch, based in San Francisco was arrested after trying to enter the Chevron Annual Shareholder Meeting in Houston, TX. Photo by Liana Lopez
Photo 2: Guillermo Grefa from Ecuador, and Debora Barros Fince from Colombia, sit outside Chervon's Shareholder meeting after being denied access even though they both held legal proxies. Photo by Jonathan McIntosh

Global Community Leaders Barred, Ejected and Arrested from Chevron Annual Meeting
See update below: All five released and safe
HOUSTON - Shareholders and shareholder representatives from around the globe holding legal proxies were refused entry to Chevron's annual meeting today. Five members of The True Cost of Chevron Network were subsequently arrested at the oil giants direction.
Communities affected by Chevron attempted to enter its annual meeting while more "True Cost of Chevron" network supporters rallied outside.

[high resolution photo available at
http://rainforestactionnetwork.smugmug.com/Change-Chevron/Arrests-at-Chevron/12321036_V6SA8#879852504_gFEdg
Photos and videos at: http://justicenecology.posterous.com/ ]

"Chevron CEO John Watson opened the annual shareholder meeting touting Chevron as a good neighbor and yet they locked the door for communities from Houston, Alaska, Canada, Burma, Nigeria, and Colombia. This is the way we have been treated at home and meeting them here was no different," explained Emem Okom, founder of the Kebetkuche Women Development and Resource Center of Nigeria.
Of the 37 delegates from the Network with validly executed proxy statements, only seven were allowed to enter the meeting, contradicting Chevron's own policies and in potential violations of corporate governance laws.. Addressing the shareholders, Elias Isaac of Open Society Institute of Southern Africa, who has seen the results of Chevron's oil contaminations in Angola, said, "The disappearance of fish in Angola is a clear sign that Chevron is not compatible with the fishing business, despite John Watson's claims to the contrary during today's meeting."
Josh Coates from the Wilderness Society of Australia was denied admission into the meeting had a message for CEO Watson: "Today I've been denied the opportunity to give a clear message to Chevron and the shareholders that the proposed liquid natural gas processing facility in the Kimberley region of northwest Australia comes with unacceptable environmental costs. The Kimberley region in the west of Australia is a last refuge for many species in the region, including humpback whales and the endangered Australian flatback turtle. Chevron is pushing an off-shore processing facility in the home of the humpback, while other options exist." Coates noted.
Aileen Suzara, of the Filipino-American Coalition for Environmental Solidarity, was able to gain entrance into the meeting and addressed Chevron's operations in Manila, Phillipines, stating, "Over 80,000 residents in metro-Manila are threatened by Chevron's toxic fuel tanks, constant leaks, spills and emissions. Chevron refuses to relocate its depot despite the public outcry and a Philippine Supreme Court decision demanding closure."
Outside the meeting, activist Naing Htoo of EarthRights International from Burma was denied the opportunity to address the Board of Directors. Had he gained entrance, he would have told the company directly that, "Chevron continues lying to their shareholders and the public about human rights abuses associated with the Yadana Project in Burma. Even this year the UN Special Rapporteur for Burma documented the connection between human rights abuses and Chevron's project. It's time for Chevron to take responsibility for the harms they cause."
Of the five arrested, one was Antonia Juhasz, Lead Author of "The True Cost of Chevron: An Alternative Annual Report". Juhasz was dragged from the meeting as shareholders and their proxies chanted, "Chevron Lies, People Die" and CEO John Watson abruptly ended the meeting.

Others arrested included Reverend Ken Davis, a member Community for a Better Environment, from Richmond, California, Juan Parras of Houston-based Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Solutions (TEJAS), and Mitchell Anderson and Han Shan of Amazon Watch; all arrested after being denied entrance. AmazonWatch works with Ecuadorian leaders like Guillermo Grefa, who was also denied entrance.
Before his arrest, Reverend Davis stated "I represent an area where there is no beauty shop, groceries, or cleaners. Our industry is Chevron. My people breathe their contamination every day and are constantly sick. Our health is not for sale."
The True Cost of Chevron Network will continue its effective alliance to expose and challenge the oil giant. For more information on the Network, visit http://www.truecostofchevron.com/
UPDATE:
May 27, 2010
contact:
* Sangita Nayak, 414 412 4518, emailsangita@gmail.com
* Diana Pei Wu, 510 333 3889, dianapeiwu@gmail.com
UPDATE (1:15 pm CDT; May 27, 2010): All 5 are released and safe
HOUSTON, TX - Antonia Juhasz, lead author and editor of "The True Cost of Chevron: An Alternative Annual Report" was forcibly dragged from Chevron's annual meeting yesterday as shareholders and their proxies chanted, "Chevron Lies, People Die." CEO John Watson abruptly ended the meeting. Juhasz was released from jail this afternoon at 1:15 pm CDT after being arrested in Chevron's annual shareholder meeting yesterday morning around 10:00 am CDT and kept overnight. She and other True Cost of Chevron Network members were there to share their stories of human rights and environmental abuses due to Chevron's operations.

The other four arrestees from the network, Juan Parras of Houston, TX; Reverend Ken Davis of Richmond, CA; and Mitch Anderson and Han Shan of San Francisco, CA, were released early this morning at 3:30 am CDT. They were arrested after being barred from the meeting.

"As a Houstonian, I am proud to be part of this global network. Chevron cannot silence the truth about its operations in Houston or anywhere else," stated Parras.

Sangita Nayak, 414 412 4518, emailsangita@gmail.com
* Diana Pei Wu, 510 333 3889, dianapeiwu@gmail.com


Chevron's Disdain for Human Rights Will Bring Political and Financial Costs

As a student, former Military Intelligence Officer, and veteran, I've spent the last six years studying political violence and its causes. Simply put, when the process of dialogue between disputing parties breaks down and the aggrieved party is denied recourse through the political and legal systems, its members take the next logical step, which military theorist Carl von Clausewitz describes as the "continuation of politics by other means." This can be observed in places such as Iraq and Nigeria, developing nations which have three things in common: oil, governments that rely more on fear than representation to maintain power, and foreign investors who collude with these governments in order to gain access that resource.

In the case of Iraq this has led to sectarian conflict and attacks on U.S. troops, who are in the position of having to preserve a fragile security situation while Chevron and other companies attempt to quietly exploit their window of opportunity to re-enter the country. Nigeria, in comparison, has lost up to 25% of its oil production capacity due to insurgent attacks in the Niger Delta, where Chevron contaminates the air and water with impunity and has directly supported the Nigerian military in its brutal operations against peaceful demonstrators. Faced with the devastation of their food and water supply and the failure of their governments to hold these companies accountable, it is not difficult to understand why citizens of these countries turned to armed conflict in order to change their cost-benefit analysis.

After witnessing firsthand this week how Chevron refused entry to proxy shareholders from Ecuador, Burma, Nigeria, Colombia, and numerous other places around the world which have been severely harmed by the company, I cannot help but wonder what these individuals' communities will think after they return from thousands of miles of travel without having been afforded the opportunity to make a simple statement before Chevron's new CEO and Board of Directors: treat us like human beings. The air was thick with contempt in front of Chevron's Houston headquarters as these individuals were escorted out by smirking security officials after being informed that their papers did not meet the company's qualifications for entry. My thought, watching these community leaders exit the building in compliance, was that Chevron had just made a major strategic miscalculation.

We in the U.S. are fortunate enough to still have a political system which, however frustrating it can often be, still makes it possible to effect change through peaceful political and legal means. Chevron is an American company. Therefore we have a responsibility to hold it accountable for its human rights violations around the world and to impose political and financial costs on it for these violations. Through a series of long term regulatory and policy battles we will make it increasingly costly for companies such as Chevron to operate and simultaneously make renewable alternatives more attractive to investors, the ultimate objective being to bring the power of energy production back into the hands of the people. The technology to accomplish this exists today. Our challenge is to win over or oust those politicians who stand in our way through the electoral process. Our security, our democracy, and our moral authority in the world are at stake in what we will look back on as one of the great political battles of the 21st century.

T.J. Buonomo is a Chevron Program Associate with Global Exchange and founder and editor of Citizens for a Sovereign and Democratic Iraq. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and former Military Intelligence Officer, U.S. Army. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Global Exchange or its members.

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