PR – Siemens Denounced for Damming Latin America's Future

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German technology giant challenged at shareholder meeting


Protestors outside Siemens Annual Shareholders Meeting in Munich

Protestors outside Siemens Annual Shareholders Meeting in Munich
Photo courtesy of Christian Poirier/Amazon Watch

Munich, Germany: Dozens of protestors from a coalition of Brazilian, German, French and American organizations staged a demonstration outside the shareholder meeting of Siemens – a leading German corporation – today, denouncing the company’s controversial role in some of the world’s most notorious hydroelectric projects. Following the protest, international activists – including Monica Soares Brito from the dam-affected Amazonian city of Altamira – intervened with statements and a counter-proposal in the company’s annual meeting, requesting that the company “put an end to its flagrant wrongdoings” while withdrawing from its role in Brazil’s Belo Monte mega-dam and the Honduran dam Agua Zarca.

Today’s actions denounced Siemens’ joint venture with Voith Hydro, which supplies turbines and electromechanical equipment to the consortium building the controversial Belo Monte Dam on the Amazon’s Xingu River, slated to be the world’s third largest dam. Siemens’ global portfolio also includes the similarly controversial Honduran dam Agua Zarca, a project marked by police repression that led to the death of an indigenous community member named Tomás Garcia.

“Through its involvement in destructive dams the Managing Board of Siemens AG violates human rights, while ignoring the UN Guiding Principles, the International Labor Organization Convention 169 (ILO169), recommendations of the World Commission on Dams, and the company’s own corporate governance guidelines,” asserted Christian Russau from the German initiative CounterCurrent.

Monica Brito, representative of Movimento Xingu Vivo, showing images of destruction by Belo Monte at Siemens's shareholders meeting

Monica Brito, representative of Movimento Xingu Vivo, showing images of destruction by Belo Monte at Siemens’s shareholders meeting
Photo courtesy of Christian Poirier/Amazon Watch

“European shareholders are often unaware of the environmental damage and human rights abuses their investments are provoking overseas,” said Monica Brito of the Xingu Alive Forever Movement. “Shareholders should hold companies responsible and they should know that Belo Monte is an illegal project, subject to over 25 lawsuits due to its egregious violations of environmental law and indigenous rights. The Siemens Managing Board is deliberately turning a blind eye to this fact.”

Party to a consortium that includes France’s Alstom and Austria’s Andritz, Siemens signed a €500 million contract in 2011 to supply turbines to Brazil’s dam-building consortium Norte Energia, responsible for Belo Monte. The companies have rejected claims that the project’s questionable legality and drastic socio-environmental impacts are in any way linked to their role in furnishing hardware key to the dam’s construction.

“Alongside their European turbine-supplying cohorts, Siemens contends that the disaster being caused by Belo Monte is not their problem,” stated Christian Poirier of Amazon Watch. “We’re here today to tell them that they are complicit in its impacts and to hold them accountable for participating in illegal and dirty energy projects around the world.”

Resistance to the Agua Zarca Dam

Resistance to the Agua Zarca Dam
Photo courtesy of Copinh

“The construction of the Agua Zarca Dam has deprived local indigenous communities access to the river’s water. This is a clear human rights violation,” said Andrea Lammers of Öku-Büro Munich. “While the Chinese company Sinohydro is pulling out of the controversial project, Siemens has shown no sign of self-reflection on their own responsibility.”

“Siemens has never thought about the people affected by the dam. They only care about making money,” concluded Monica Brito. “Thousands of people are being forced from their homes by Belo Monte, including those who live along the Xingu River whose livelihoods and future are being changed forever.”

The mobilization is supported by:

Movimento Xingu Vivo Para Sempre, Amazon Watch, International Rivers, ProREGENWALD, KoBra, FDCL, ASW, CounterCurrent, Association of Ethical Shareholders, Urgewald, HondurasDelegation, Ökumenisches Büro für Frieden und Gerechtigkeit, and Planète Amazone.