Darfur Activists applaud Senate Passage of Divestment Legislation

Save Darfur, Genocide Intervention Network, American Jewish World Service, National Association of Evangelicals, NAACP urge President Bush to end his administration’s opposition to critical measure

– In a bipartisan show of force, the Senate unanimously passed the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act which would authorize state and local governments to divest from companies that support the Khartoum government at the expense of marginalized populations in Sudan and prohibit federal contracts with those companies. Darfur activists have been aggressively pushing this legislation, and the groups – including the Save Darfur Coalition, Genocide Intervention Network, National Association of Evangelicals, American Jewish World Service and NAACP – together hailed this critical step and urged the Bush administration to end its efforts to obstruct this important legislation.

"We commend the Senate for pushing the United States towards fulfilling its responsibility to protect civilians in Darfur,” the groups said in a joint statement. “We specifically highlight the tireless efforts of Senators Dodd, Shelby, Reid and Durbin, who all worked to ensure the measure passed in a unanimous, bipartisan fashion. It is incomprehensible that at a time when significant pressure is needed to change Khartoum’s behavior, the Bush administration would delay and even oppose efforts to hit the perpetrators where it hurts the most – their wallets. Further efforts by the administration to derail this legislation must end now. The collective efforts of our organizations will not end until President Bush signs this measure into law.”

President Bush described the ongoing crisis in Darfur as “genocide” more than three years ago and identified the Government of Sudan and its allied militia as responsible. Since then, diplomatic efforts by the United States and the international community have failed to leverage sufficient pressure on the Government of Sudan to end the violence. In the meantime, as many as 400,000 Darfurians have been killed and more than two million displaced.

A U.N. peacekeeping mission authorized by the Security Council in August has yet to deploy in large part because the Government of Sudan has refused to allow non-African peacekeepers into Darfur, landing rights for U.N. transport and unfettered communications between peacekeepers. In addition, the Government of Sudan continues to bomb villages and to relocate its supporters onto land vacated by the displaced. 

Since 2005, 22 states and over 50 universities have adopted Sudan divestment policies.  The movement has rapidly spread through Europe: in July the European Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution calling on European Union members to support targeted Sudan divestment efforts. Seven major foreign companies - CHC Helicopter, ABB, Siemens, Rolls Royce, ICSA of India, Schlumberger and La Mancha Resources - have ceased problematic operations in Sudan or significantly changed their behavior in the country since the proliferation of the Sudan divestment movement.

In 2001, President Bush wrote "not on my watch" in the margins of a memo detailing the Rwandan genocide. With a little over a year left in office President Bush has an opportunity to protect civilians in Darfur and help ensure lasting peace for Sudan. Signing the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act is the first step towards fulfilling the promise he made early in his presidency.

The broad and diverse coalition that supported and played a critical role in the passage of Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act also includes the American Jewish Committee, the Armenian National Committee of America, the Armenian Assembly of America, B'nai B'rith International, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the National Council of Churches, the NAACP, the ENOUGH Project, STAND, the National Council of Jewish Women, the Religious Action Center, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, and dozens of state and local faith-based and community organizations.

Who will lose their federal contracts?

The Sudan Divestment Task Force, a project of the Genocide Intervention Network, maintains a list of problematic companies supporting the Sudanese government.  The following companies appear on this list and, as of September 2007, maintained contracts with the federal government: ALSTOM (FRANCE), LAHMEYER INTERNATIONAL (GERMANY), MOTT MACDONALD (UK).

If SADA passes the House of Representatives and is signed into law, all companies renewing or pursuing new contracts with the federal government must certify that they do not support the Sudanese government. The bill includes explicit exemptions for South Sudan to ensure that its effects are felt by the regime in Khartoum, and not by civilians elsewhere in Sudan.

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About the Save Darfur Coalition – The Save Darfur Coalition raises public awareness about the ongoing genocide in Darfur and mobilizes a unified response to the atrocities that threaten the lives of people throughout the Darfur region. It is an alliance of more than 180 faith-based, advocacy and human rights organizations. The coalition’s member organizations represent 130 million people of all ages, races, religions and political affiliations united together to help the people of Darfur. For more information on the coalition, please visit www.SaveDarfur.org. To obtain footage from the Darfur border region, coalition events, various interviews, and more, please visit the Save Darfur Coalition media gallery at http://media.savedarfur.org. All footage may be previewed in non-broadcast quality and may be purchased in broadcast quality by filling out the purchase request form provided on the site.

About the Genocide Intervention Network – The Genocide Intervention Network is working to build the first permanent anti-genocide constituency in the United States, mobilizing the political will to stop genocide when it occurs. Accessible online at www.GenocideIntervention.net, GI-Net empowers individuals with tools to stop genocide through education, fundraising for civilian protection and advocacy efforts.

About the American Jewish World Service – American Jewish World Service (AJWS) is an international development organization motivated by Judaism's imperative to pursue justice. AJWS is dedicated to alleviating poverty, hunger and disease among the people of the developing world regardless of race, religion or nationality. Through grants to grassroots organizations, volunteer service, advocacy and education, AJWS fosters civil society, sustainable development and human rights for all people, while promoting the values and responsibilities of global citizenship within the Jewish community.

About the NAACP – Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization.  Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

 

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