The following letter was emailed to Telenor investment advisers at the these organisations:
4ABG Sundal Collier
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Exane BNP Paribas
Handelsbanken Capital Markets
JP Morgan Cazenove
New Street Research
RBC Capital Markets
10th July 2017
Re: concern regarding Telenor silence over Rohingya genocide
We are writing to you in your capacity as an investment analyst who covers Telenor, on behalf of the #WeAreAllRohingyaNow campaign, to inform you of our concern for Telenor’s inconsistent approach to its own principles of human rights and the United Nations guiding principles of business.
We believe that it is important for investors and traders to understand the implications of Telenor’s stubborn silence on the Rohingya issue, particularly in light of the fact that one of the largest companies in the world, Unilever, has not hesitated to call publicly for the protection of the Rohingya and to advocate UN recommendations. This is a serious misstep that is surely going to impact Telenor’s standing in the Southeast Asian market.
The Rohingya are an ethnic minority in Myanmar that have been subjected to a sustained campaign of genocide, led by the Myanmar military, in an attempt to expel the Rohingya people from their land in the state of Rakhine.
The #WeAreAllRohingyaNow campaign is an international project by independent activists reaching out to multinational corporations investing in Myanmar, encouraging them to take a public stand in support of the Rohingya and UN recommendations for the resolution of the crisis. We are not calling for companies to boycott or divest from Myanmar, rather we want them to be players in the country, and to use their considerable influence to help end the genocide. We are happy to mobilize support for any business that takes a positive stance.
Over the past few months, we have been reaching out via social media to Telenor executives after first emailing CEO Sigve Brekke but receiving no reply. We have been very disappointed with Telenor’s response. Not only have no executives replied to the campaign, some activists have even been blocked on social media by executives working under their departments of Social Responsibility and Marketing. In addition, Telenor has initiated an educational project in Myanmar to be implemented through Buddhist monastic schools, essentially excluding the Rohingya and other religious minorities. Since Telenor are persistent in their silence, we find ourselves obliged to escalate our campaign.
We are now launching our own ethical investment guidance regarding the Rohingya genocide. Currently we recommend those with shares in Unilever to hold on to their shares, since they have expressed their concerns for the Rohingya people, and we look forward to encouraging people to buy Unilever, as soon as they demonstrate further actions to prove their standing against genocide.
Sadly regarding Telenor, we had hoped to keep this a positive campaign, but we are now faced with no option but to advise current Telenor and Digi customers to change service providers, and we advise those shareholders who are concerned about ethical matters to now sell their stock, until such a time when their silence on the Rohingya genocide is broken.
Telenor’s failure to recognise the importance of the Rohingya among its customers across the Asia region will inevitably lead to customer dissatisfaction and more people shifting their loyalty elsewhere, as can already be observed as happening with Digi customers in Malaysia.
We hope this information is useful to you in compiling your own investment guidance. We will of course let you know should this situation change.
Director of the #WeAreAllRohingyaNow Campaign