Protest at the China Gold AGM in Vancouver

This week, on June 14, Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) Canada and the Canada Tibet Committee (CTC) held a protest at the China Gold International Annual General Meeting (AGM) for stockholders in downtown Vancouver.

I attended and helped coordinate the protest on behalf of SFT as the Mining Campaign Coordinator, along with Tibetan and non-Tibetan supporters from the Vancouver area.

Last month I attended the China Gold Investors Update Presentation at the Hilton Hotel in Toronto. During the question period at the end of the presentation I was able to speak directly to China Gold’s Vice President Jerry Xie. I raised questions concerning the treatment of Tibetans who on June 19th, 2009 protested the mining operations because of the environmental destruction it had inflicted (and continues to inflict) on their local region.

The protesters had blockaded some of the mining facility’s vehicles in the hopes that it would persuade the mining officials to speak with them and listen to their appeals.

Instead, Chinese miners, who had little concern for the protesters appeals, began to severely beat the protesters with sticks and metal beams. Protesters say that the company leader of a mining work unit had directed his men to beat them after shouting, “Kill some of the farmers, the price of their life is so cheap, so I will pay for it.”

When Chinese authorities arrived to the scene, instead of arresting the miners who had beaten many of the protesters, they arrested and jailed the protesters for up to a month.

I also raised a question to the Vice President Mr. Xie about the contingency plans that their mining company has in place if this sort of crack down on peacefully protesting Tibetans happened again.

Mr. Xie responded by implying that I had no evidence, so what I was saying was “not necessarily the truth” while dismissing the notion of any unrest among the local Tibetan population or water contamination caused by the China Gold mine in Gyama. He explained that he had been to the Gyama mine and he personally knows that the company has good relations with the local Tibetans.

Since that presentation at the Hilton Hotel in May, SFT has been hard at work continuing researching and developing our mining campaign to confront China Gold at every opportunity and exposing their disgraceful actions for the world to see.

Recently, SFT and CTC have put together a joint project “China Gold International Resources Reputational Risk Report” for distribution to China Gold’s investors (see right). The report shows investors the risks that are associated with investing in a company like China Gold.

A company’s reputation is vital to their financial success and subsequently their stockholders’ financial success. When a company engages in disreputable behavior, like overlooking the well-being and security of people or the integrity of the environment, in order to make a profit, the stockholders’ investment pays the price once the situation eventually blows up or is exposed (ex: BP Oil Spill disaster, Goldman Sachs).

In the case of China Gold, their role in the contamination of the Gyama valley surface water has been proven by a group of scientists who published the findings of their study in the region in 2010. Their role in the political oppression of the Tibetan people has also been well-documented from testimonies from the people of Gyama.

Through this report we inform China Gold investors of what is really going on in Gyama, Tibet in order to realize the reputation risks that China Gold has created from their mistreatment of the Tibetan people and environment.

Tibetan villager from Gyama

It was planned that I would attend the China Gold AGM yesterday as a share holder proxy and make a statement to all of China Gold’s attending investors. Our plan was to show investors photos of Tibetans who had fallen ill from the mine’s contamination of their water (ex: see right), the petition the Tibetan protesters of Gyama had put together to demand for justice from the China Gold mine, and distribute our reputational risk report.

It was hoped that this time China Gold’s executives like Vice President Jerry Xie, could not feign ignorance or claim that we had no evidence to prove the allegations of the Tibetan people of Gyama or even that the Tibetan people of Gyama were making allegations in the first place.

Unfortunately, when I got to the AGM entrance I was told that my proxy form was not received, even though I had received a confirmation of receipt, after e-mailing the form, that suggested otherwise.

Petition of the 2009 Gyama protesters

Although I was frustrated not to get into the AGM, I half expected to be rejected because I did not attempt to disguise my Tibetan name, and because of China Gold’s problems with transparency and opposition to their depiction of Gyama Tibetans as happy and prospering from the mine’s goodwill.

Fortunately a member of CTC who had purchased a share in China Gold, for the purposes of attending the AGM, was able to get in and confront and talk directly to a few of the executives of China Gold (the audio recording will be up shortly).

The question period for the investors presentation I attended in May was an open session, but, interestingly, I was told from the CTC member that attended the AGM yesterday that the  question period during the AGM was only by submission and questions had to reviewed before being asked.

It’s truly pathetic when such a large company like China Gold has to go to such lengths to avoid simple questions such as their company’s response to the appeals of the local Tibetan people in Gyama.

But China Gold’s counter-measure of filtering any questions against them is very telling and also very invigorating to our campaign against them.

China Gold knows that the exposure of these issues is something that would cause real reputational harm to their company and this therefore validates our strategy of exposing them in order to make sure their fears are realized to their company and their investors.

China Gold knows that when it comes to an open discussion on the situation in Gyama, even if it is at their own AGM or Investors Presentation, they cannot defeat us because the evidence is completely against them.

Thus they do the only thing they can do to save face, feign ignorance to the ugly truth they’ve created.

– Jigme Duntak, SFT Canada Mining Campaign Coordinator

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