International campaign protests against POSCO

Bhubaneswar: In a display of solidarity with the Anti-Posco activists and the villagers affected in the administration’s ongoing land acquisition activities — an international campaign represented by 600 university professors in the USA and many non-resident Indians demonstrated before TIAA–CREF office in NYC demanding that the TIAA-CREF must withdraw all its investments in Posco.

The demonstrations led by the groups — American Faculty Support Group (AFSC), South Asia Solidarity Initiative (SASI) and Mining Zone Peoples Solidarity Group (MZPSG) demanded TIAA-CREF to withdraw its investments in POSCO on the grounds of human rights and environmental violations and submitted a memorandum on this.

The 12-billion steel project has plans for an integrated steel plant along with a captive private port as well as captive mines. Since the land acquisition for the proposed plant would result in the massive displacement of people in a great number of villages — the possibility of large-scale displacement is apprehended as a gross violation of civil and human rights — most specifically the right to life and livelihood.

Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association – College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF) is a Fortune 100 financial services organization. It is the most prominent pension provider for people who work in the academic, research, medical and cultural fields. TIAA-CREF had reportedly invested 40 million dollar in the South Korean steel giant.

Biju Mathew, Coordinator, MZPSG said, “Around 640 people in a letter written to TIAA-CREF demanded to withdraw its over 40 million investment from Posco. The letter was prepared after wide consultations with professors in the USA.”

The protesting groups have threatened that they would also pressurise investors from Canada and Europe to critically evaluate their investment in Posco.

These groups which have found participation from the famed intellectual Noam Chomsky asserted that they would continue to pressurise the companies to withdraw their investment and won’t stop till their demands are met. 

“We will try to approach as many investors holding Norwegian, Canadian and other pension plans. After meeting their members, we will continue our campaigns and submit our petitions,” said an AFSC member. 

According to Posco officials, these groups may have vested interests.  Last year these groups demonstrated before the South Korean consulate in the USA demanding the ouster of the South Korean steel giant from the state of. Odisha.

Posco authorities maintained that these groups should come to the proposed project site of the state for a reality check.