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OMV An Unethical WOMAD Sponsor

“People from peace and environmental groups across Aotearoa are calling on WOMAD again this year to ditch sponsorship from unethical companies like oil-drillers: OMV and Todd Energy,” says Climate Justice Taranaki spokesperson Emily Bailey. “Over 5,500 have signed Greenpeace NZ’s petition already this year.”

“We are particularly concerned about OMV, given their alleged involvement in the 1997-2003 war in Sudan. According to a report published by the European Coalition on Oil in Sudan, up to 12,000 Sudanese were killed or died of starvation and 160,000 people were displaced in the oil concession area where the Austrian based OMV, Swedish Lundin Petroleum and other companies in the same consortium profited,” said Bailey. “The start of oil exploitation set off a vicious war in the area where crimes were committed on a large scale in what was essentially a military campaign by the Government of Sudan to secure and take control of the oil fields. So far two heads of Lundin have been charged with aiding and abetting international atrocity crimes by the Swedish Prosecution Authority since October 2018 and will be facing trial later in the year. Pressure is on for OMV to also stand trial.”

“There are many arguments apparently for accepting unethical money for music festivals and community projects, from “we might as well take it so we can do something good with it” to “we can’t pay our bills any other way” but we say this is irresponsible, narrow-minded and lacks empathy for the communities they claim to support. Fossil fuel extraction and climate change go hand in hand with injustices that disproportionately affect developing nations, indigenous people, people of colour, women, people with disabilities, and poorer people. These are the people who are also the least responsible for causing it. Expensive music festivals on the other hand benefit those who can afford to attend and a few companies who service the punters. The ‘trickle down affect’ doesn’t trickle very far.”

“It is upsetting to see that artists from Sudan, Marina Satti & Fońes (Greece/Sudan), will be performing this year at WOMAD. Do they know OMV are sponsoring the event and understand OMV’s history in their country and OMV’s current fossil fuel extraction activities in our country? We’re not against music festivals, especially ones that support marginalised cultures but acknowledging indigenous cultures in a climate emergency comes with ethical responsibility. We would rather have a smaller, more affordable music festival with what can be raised from ethical sources rather than accepting blood money from mining companies.”

“Essentially sponsoring community projects is cheap advertising for these unethical companies who need to buy their social license. If they truly just want to support community initiatives then they can do it without plastering the company logo everywhere.”

“We call on WOMAD organisers to understand the connections between corporate sponsors such as OMV and the harm to indigenous cultures deeply effected by climate change and war, and adopt an ethical policy this year. We call on OMV and Todd Energy to drop all new extraction permits on and offshore here and overseas.” concluded Bailey.

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