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Hindus for Human Rights: March 20 2022

Oregon AFL-CIO Approves Resolution Requesting State Treasury To Divest From Israeli Spyware Company​

Portland, OR (March 20, 2022) – Delegates to the 2022 Oregon AFL-CIO Convention in Portland this Saturday unanimously approved a resolution to advocate for state divestment from NSO Group, the company best known for operating Pegasus spyware. The Oregon AFL-CIO Convention is a biennial gathering of labor leaders from across the state representing over 40 affiliate unions. 

The resolution, titled “Protecting the Human Rights of Unions, Activists, and Journalists Abroad,” was submitted by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3563 (Community Services Consortium & Head Start, Albany, OR) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT-OR) in collaboration with Hindus for Human Rights. 

Through the Oregon State Treasury’s investment in the private equity fund Novalpina Capital Fund 1, the Oregon public pension fund is the largest indirect investor in NSO Group.  Repressive governments, including those in India, Saudi Arabia, and Hungary, have used NSO’s surveillance software to surveil, arrest, and even murder thousands of journalists, activists, and union members. In India, the Hindu nationalist government of Narendra Modi has deployed Pegasus spyware to target dozens of leading human rights defenders, students, lawyers, journalists, and opposition politicians. 

The resolution commits Oregon AFL-CIO to take the following actions:

  • Send a letter to the State Treasurer and the Oregon Investment Council requesting immediate and complete divestment of state pension funds from Novalpina Capital once suitable alternatives are identified that will not harm pension stability.
  • Encourage the implementation of a human rights screening for all future investments
  • Advocate for legislation, and to strengthen existing state laws to protect human rights at home and abroad, as related to Oregon’s financial investments
  • Advocate for qualified public sector union members to be appointed to the Oregon Investment Council
  • Provide support for initiatives or legislation in the coming years that would require annual Oregon Treasury investment reporting in an accessible format online which would support investment transparency
  • Send a letter to the State Treasurer and the Oregon Investment Council requesting voluntary annual reporting of investment holdings
  • Forward to the National AFL-CIO, the Northwest Oregon Labor Council, and Chapters of the Oregon AFL-CIO a copy of the resolution

The Oregon AFL-CIO represents over 300,000 working Oregonians through over 40 affiliate unions, and Hindus for Human Rights is thrilled that its members have voted to show solidarity with workers, activists, and journalists abroad. We are proud to be #UnionStrong!

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Indian Civil Watch International (ICWI) is a non-sectarian left diasporic membership-based organization that represents the diversity of India’s people and anchors a transnational network to building radical democracy in India.