"It is unconscionable that Coke would sponsor China's torch relay through Tibet at a time when thousands of Tibetans are being rounded up and imprisoned, monasteries and nunneries are being raided, and people are being shot in the streets for taking part in peaceful protests," said Lhadon Tethong, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet who spoke at today's meeting. "We are calling on Coke executives to do the right thing and avoid the massive public relations disaster that will plague Coke if it is seen to be complicit in China's crackdown on innocent Tibetans."
In March 2006, Coke became a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact, making a commitment to "support and respect the protection of international human rights within its sphere of influence" and to ensure that it is not "complicit in human rights abuses." Government officials in Tibet have threatened to respond "harshly and with no leniency" to anyone who tries to disrupt the torch relay when it arrives in Tibet next month.
The shareholders meeting follows on the heels of massive protests by Tibetans and supporters in London, Paris and San Francisco and on the eve of the arrival of the Olympic torch in New Delhi where thousands are expected to protest along the relay route.