University Suspends Business with Coca-Cola for Crimes in India, Colombia
For Immediate Release
December 30, 2005
Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center +1 415 336 7584 E: info@IndiaResource.org
Clara Hardie, Student Coalition to Cut Contracts with Coca-Cola +1
San Francisco (December 30, 2005): The University
of Michigan has suspended its business relationship with the Coca-Cola
company because of the company's egregious human rights and environmental
practices in India and Colombia.
In a letter dated December 29, the university noted that the Coca-Cola
company had failed to agree to a protocol for an investigation into
issues in India and Colombia, and that the University of Michigan
"temporarily suspend(s) University purchasing of Coca-Cola products
beginning January 1, 2006."
"We welcome the move by the University of Michigan to cease doing
business with a company that engages in flagrant human rights and
environmental violations, and this will send a strong message to the
Coca-Cola company that it must clean up its act," said Amit Srivastava
of the India Resource Center, an international campaigning organization
that worked closely with student organizations at the University of
Michigan to make the case against Coca-Cola.
In response to student concerns over Coca-Cola's abuses in India and
Colombia, the University of Michigan had convened a Dispute Review
Board (DRB), an advisory body comprising of students, faculty and
administrators to look into the issues in India and Colombia. After
deliberating for 10 months, the DRB recommended in June 2005 that
the Coca-Cola company be placed on probation. The DRB also laid out
a series of benchmarks that the Coca-Cola company would have to meet
in order to show that it was acting in good faith to solve the problems
in India and Colombia, including agreeing to an independent, third
party investigation into issues in India and Colombia.
While welcoming the move by the University of Michigan, students and
campaigners also saw the need for continued scrutiny of the company
as well as the university administration.
"The campaign to hold Coca-Cola accountable is far from over, and
we will continue to fight to ensure that the University of Michigan
administration is moving in the right direction, and putting Coca-Cola
on notice that this suspension can lead to expulsion if they fail
to act in good faith," said Clara Hardie, a key student leader at
the University of Michigan.
The Coca-Cola company has insisted that it is working in good faith
in resolving the issues in India, an assertion that is viewed skeptically
in India and internationally. The company is accused of employing
public relations maneuvers to deal with the issues, instead of genuine
The Coca-Cola company is the target of numerous community-led campaigns
in India, accusing the company of creating severe water shortages
One of Coca-Cola's largest bottling plants in India remains shut down
since March 2004 in Plachimada because the local community refuses
to allow it to operate, citing the plant for creating severe water
shortages and pollution in the area, leading to severe hardships for
the community. There are regular demonstrations against the company's
operations all across India, the most recent being in Rajasthan where
over 1,500 people marched on December 12 demanding the closure of
the factory, and another march with close to 1,000 people in Uttar
Pradesh on November 30th. More protests have been planned for 2006
in January and February.
The suspension of Coca-Cola's contracts by the University of Michigan
is a major victory for the international campaign to hold Coca-Cola
company accountable, and strong student campaigns also exist in other
colleges and universities in the US and UK to cancel Coca-Cola's contracts.
"We are putting the Coca-Cola company of notice. It will continue
to lose lucrative contracts with more colleges and universities until
it cleans up its act in India," said Amit Srivastava of the India
For more information, visit www.IndiaResource.org
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