Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, said that Statoil should practice what it preached. Its “Ethics Code of Conduct” states: “Statoil does not accept any form of discrimination of its own employees or others involved in Statoil’s activities… Discrimination includes all unequal treatment, exclusion or preference on the basis of race, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion, political views, national or ethnic origin or other similar circumstances that result in the setting aside or compromising of the principle of equality.”
Reports suggest that Equality Ombudsman of Sweden is suing Statoil because its petrol station employees in Sweden turned away Roma customers who were trying to hire a car in a test organized by a Swedish broadcaster. Rajan Zed stressed that it was unacceptable in the 21st century Europe and world to refuse services to someone because of person’s race or color or ethnic origin. European Commission should also launch an investigation and if found guilty, discipline Statoil.
Zed suggested that as a part of apology, Statoil should hire some Roma employees and start a fund to provide scholarships to Roma children for higher education. He noted that despite various government measures, Roma still reportedly faced political, social, and economic exclusion in Sweden. It was Sweden’s moral obligation to improve the plight of its Roma population and stop human rights violations suffered by them, who were reportedly the most disadvantaged.
Roma had been living in Sweden since the sixteenth century.”How many more centuries must they reside in Sweden to prove that they were ‘real and equal’ Swedes like any other?” Zed asked.
Hindu statesman further said that Church of Sweden, which was the national church, should also come out in support of the cause of this distinct ethnic and cultural group of Roma, because religion taught us to help the helpless and it was the duty of majority to protect its minority. Zed pointed out that European Roma seemed to live under apartheid conditions and regularly faced a long list of abuses that no civilized society should impose on anyone.
Agneta Broberg is Sweden’s Equality Ombudsman, a Stockholm headquartered government agency that seeks to combat discrimination on grounds of sex, transgender identity or expression, ethnicity, religion or other belief, disability, sexual orientation or age. One of the world’s largest suppliers of oil and gas, Statoil, headquartered in Stavanger, Norway, and formed in 1972, is an international energy company with operations in 35 countries, one of whose “Our values” includes “Promote and value diversity”.