Open Letter: Calling on Norway Oil Fund Divestment from Hikvision and Dahua

Six human rights organizations, including Norwegian PEN, ask the Norwegian Oil Fund to divest from the Chinese surveillance companies immediately.
Surveillance cameras. Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

March 11, 2020

We, a coalition of six human rights organizations, write to express our serious concerns regarding investments held by the Government Pension Fund of Norway (also known as the “Oil Fund”), in Chinese technology companies Hikvision Digital Technology and Zhejiang Dahua Technology, both of which are directly implicated in gross and continued human rights violations in the Uyghur region of China. The Fund must take immediate steps to divest from both companies.

Hikvision, the world’s largest maker of surveillance cameras, and Dahua, a large provider of video surveillance products and services, have both won more than $1 billion worth of Chinese governmentbacked contracts in the Uyghur region since 2016.

Hikvision and Dahua products and services have been used by the Chinese government to monitor and suppress Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other religious and ethnic groups, including the mass arbitrary detention of at least 1 million in internment camps. The issue has been repeatedly raised by human rights groups, the European Union, the UN and by the Norwegian Government itself, on a number of occasions.

Both companies were added to a US trade blacklist in October 2019 which includes 20 Chinese public security bureaus and six other companies, all implicated in human rights violations against Uyghurs
and other Turkic Muslims including mass detention and surveillance.

The Oil Fund makes clear its focus on responsible investment. It recognizes a set of international standards which includes integrating human rights into company policies and strategy, reporting on salient human rights issues, and engaging transparently on human rights through grievance mechanisms. The Oil Fund also has expressed its support for, and compliance with, the UN Guiding
Principles on Business and Human Rights.

These standards could not be further from those adopted by Hikvision and Dahua. Both companies qualify for observation or exclusion according to section 3 (a.) of the Fund’s own guidelines:

“Companies may be put under observation or be excluded if there is an unacceptable risk that the company contributes to or is responsible for: a) serious or systematic human rights violations, such as murder, torture, deprivation of liberty, forced labour and the worst forms of child labour […]”

Norway’s Oil Fund is by no means the only culprit, however. A growing number of investment funds, corporations and other entities have publicly disclosed investments in these companies and continue to do so.

While immediate divestment will not solve the human rights crisis, it would send a clear signal to these investors that the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund is not interested in supporting those that participate in, or enable, gross and systematic human rights violations. It would likewise ensure that the Oil Fund does not continue to profit from those violations going forward.

While we acknowledge that the Fund’s Ethical Council has indicated greater attention to investigating whether technology companies’ tools are being used for “improper surveillance”, the time is now to seriously reassess its investments in Hikvision and Dahua and to take appropriate action to ensure it complies with its own ethical standards.

Sincerely,

Norwegian Helsinki Committee
Norwegian PEN
Norwegian Uyghur Committee
Rafto Foundation for Human Rights
Uyghur Human Rights Project
World Uyghur Congress

For media inquiries, please contact:
  • Adiljan Abdurihim, Norwegian Uyghur Committee: info@uigurene.no
  • Peter Irwin, Uyghur Human Rights Project: pirwin@uhrp.org
  • Ryan Barry, World Uyghur Congress: ryan.barry@uyghurcongress.org

4. februar: Kinas angrep på uighurene

Kina tar stadig mer ekstreme grep for å kontrollere egen befolkning og innfører kontrollmekanismer som minner om en politistat. Uighurene, en etnisk minoritet i Øst-Turkestan, er spesielt utsatt for menneskerettighetsbrudd og overgrep fra kinesiske myndigheter. Over én million uighurer har blitt tvangsinternert i såkalte re-utdanningsleire.

Tid: 4. februar kl. 17.30
Sted: Nedjma, Litteraturhuset i Oslo
Se opptaket fra arrangementet her

Lederen av uighurenes internasjonale organisasjon World Uighur Congress, Dolkun Isa, kommer for å fortelle om situasjonen for uighurene i Kina, sammen med én av de mest fremtredende ekspertene på feltet, Buzzfeeds utenrikskorrespondent Megha Rajagopalan, og forsker og Kina-ekspert Harald Bøckman. Samtalen blir ledet av Aftenpostens Kristoffer Rønneberg.

I den siste tiden har verden fått øynene opp for uighurenes forverrede situasjon i Kina. Kinesiske myndigheters målrettede overgrep mot uighurene har av eksperter blitt definert som etnisk rensning. Det anslås at mellom 1 og 2 millioner uighurer sitter vilkårlig fengslet i re-utdanningsleirer i Øst-Turkestan. Disse leirene blir av menneskerettighetsorganisasjoner beskrevet som konsentrasjonsleirer og gir en uhyggelig gjenklang av Maos beryktede leirer.

Seminaret er gratis og åpent for alle. Ingen påmelding.

Arrangører: Norsk PEN, Raftostiftelsen og Den norske Uighurkomiteen.

Arrangementet på Facebook.

17. april: Media freedom violations in Turkey

Gürkan Özturan is the executive manager of dokuz8news

MEDIA FREEDOM VIOLATIONS IN TURKEY

Tuesday 17th April at 13:00
Venue: Redaksjonsområdet UiB, 2. etasje, Media City Bergen

We welcome to a conversation with Gürkan Özturan and Nuray Yildirim Gullestad, the chair of Norwegian PEN avd. Vestlandet, about how freedom of speech has been constricted and how critical journalism copes and adapts to the circumstances, in Turkey under Prime Minister, now President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Our guests will reflect on the impact of the broad variety of restrictions on free speech, which are applied in Turkey, and how a democratic opposition can survive in the next year and a half, as we approach the next General Election in Turkey.
The conversation is moderated by Iver Ørstavik, senior adviser at the Rafto Foundation for Human Rights.

Gürkan Özturan is the executive manager of rights-focused independent citizen journalism platform dokuz8news which publishes news emerging from social platforms & human rights networks across Turkey, and recently started a project on Developing Data Journalism Capacity, in the shadow if the increasing repression of critical voices in Turkey. He has studied in Istanbul, Uppsala, Nice and Berlin. His academic and activist expertise is right wing populism and digital rights & liberties, and he is published and interviewed by many of the major news outlets. Özturan is a board member for Turkey Europe Foundation, and also contributes to the work of several other NGOs.

Arrangert av Norsk PEN Vestlandet i samarbeid med Raftostiftelsen og Universitetet i Bergen.