December 18, 2017 / 11:12 PM / a month ago

Activist investor files Chevron proxy resolution on Myanmar rights concerns

HOUSTON, Dec 18 (Reuters) - An activist investor in Chevron Corp said on Monday it filed a shareholder resolution that would require the oil producer to report on the feasibility of ending operations in Myanmar, where a crackdown on minority Rohingya Muslims has been decried by the United States as “ethnic cleansing.”

The resolution, filed last week by Islamic finance firm Azzad Asset Management, pushes Chevron’s board of directors to consider how it could avoid risks “posed by doing business with governments complicit in genocide or crimes against humanity.”

Azzad filed a similar resolution at the last Chevron shareholder meeting, garnering support from 6 percent of votes cast.

More than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to southern Bangladesh since the end of August following a campaign by Myanmar security forces in response to attacks by militants in Rakhine State. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and United Nations officials have decried the crackdown as a form of genocide.

Myanmar denies committing atrocities against the Rohingya.

Chevron, the second-largest U.S.-based oil producer, does business in Myanmar through a subsidiary, Unocal Myanmar Offshore Co Ltd. It has projects that include a minority interest in natural gas production and a pipeline, according to the company’s website.

In a statement to Reuters on Monday, Chevron spokeswoman Melissa Ritchie said the company ”values the ongoing dialogue with the stockholders on this critical issue of violence in Rakhine State, Myanmar.

“We will continue to work with other U.S. companies and the government to promote the value of U.S. investment in Myanmar and the need to foster a business environment that respects human rights.”

Chevron has the option of accepting the proposal or asking the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to allow it to block it. If Chevron moves to block, Azzad would have the chance to appeal to the SEC. Chevron’s annual meeting is slated for next spring.

The filing comes as two Reuters journalists were arrested by Myanmar officials last week. Government officials accuse the pair of violating the country’s colonial-era Officials Secrets Act. The arrests have been criticized by several governments as well as journalists’ and human rights groups.

Chevron declined to directly comment on the arrests. (Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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