Volkswagen (VW) chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch narrowly avoided being hit by a cake thrown by activists protesting the presence of a VW plant located in a western China province long accused of being home to forced labor camps.
Dieter Poetsch was delivering remarks during the 63rd Annual General Meeting of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft in Berlin, Germany, when protesters hurled an object at his head, according to the video. He was able to dodge the object, identified by Reuters as a cake, and the protesters were then escorted out of the room by security while carrying a sign accusing the vehicle manufacturer of “forced labor.” (RELATED: Activists Vandalize Famous Art Exhibit, Demand Biden Declare A ‘Climate Emergency’)
The protesters carried signs and interrupted speakers to protest the company’s presence in western China, where the government is said to use Uyghur Muslims for labor, Bloomberg reported. One of the protesters raised a sign while being escorted from the room that demanded VW end Uyghur forced labor, according to a translation.
Nearly a dozen protesters glued themselves to the road outside the venue to block access before the meeting began, according to Bloomberg. They alleged that VW made “climate-damaging decisions.”
Protesters threw an object at Volkswagen chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch at a shareholder meeting. Poetsch managed to duck in time to avoid being hit by what appeared to be a cake pic.twitter.com/7WxMcMkm9M
— Reuters (@Reuters) May 10, 2023
VW has been widely criticized for its presence in western China where the government is said to use Uyghur Muslims for labor, according to Bloomberg. VW defended the plant earlier this year by claiming that there is “no indication that workers are mistreated at the facility in the city of Urumqi, which is operated by a subsidiary of its joint venture with state-backed SAIC Motor Corp.”
Deka Investment, a capitol market company, and Union Investment, a real estate investment company, have asked the Germany company to conduct an audit on the Xinjiang plant, Bloomberg reported. Ingo Speit, head of Sustainability & Corporate Governance at Deka Investments, said that “risk of lawsuits” and reputation threats will continue unless there is “complete proof” about the state of working conditions.
“VW has to pursue an external audit. Human rights are not negotiable,” Speit told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Janne Werning, head of ESG Capital Markets & Stewardship at Union Investment, told the DCNF that the company takes “a critical view of the activities of VW as well as other companies in Xinjiang.”
“We have already asked the questions about the treatment of the Uyghurs, about possible human rights violations and about an independent investigation in the dialogue with VW several times, but have not yet received satisfactory answers,” Werning said.
VW did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
This article has been updated with comments from Janne Werning of Union Investment
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