Bills Would Support Divestment by States And Companies From Corporations That Help Fund Genocide In Darfur
According to recent estimates, at least 400,000 people have died in Darfur since the genocide began in February of 2003. It is impossible to know what the final number will be, however, as the genocide is still taking place today. What is known is that there are approximately 3.5 million men, women and children in the western Darfur region of Sudan trying to survive the Sudanese government-sponsored campaign of violence and forced starvation. These innocent victims are essentially on life support, their continued existence dependent on U.S. and international humanitarian aid and the presence of African Union peacekeepers. Despite the best efforts of the under-funded and under-manned African Union peacekeeping force, attacks have increased in recent months, leading to tens of thousands of new arrivals at refugee camps in Darfur and across the border in Chad.
To begin to address this problem, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA), working with Congressman Barney Frank (MA) and others have introduced H.R. 180 the DarfurAccountability and Divestment Act of 2007. Under this legislation companies, states or persons with direct investments in Sudan would be required to disclose these investment activities to the federal government. This list of companies would then be regularly updated and published in a forum available to the general public. These investments provide financial support to the Government of Sudan, which uses the monies earned to fund military operation. Through identifying the connections between investments in Sudan and the crisis in Darfur, companies and persons will be encouraged to divest from Sudan. Senator Richard Durbin (IL) has introduced similar divestment legislation in the Senate (S. 831).
Divestment is a proven tool in struggles against inhumane governments: Americans’ divestment was a major contributor to bringing down the racist apartheid regime in South Africa in the 1980’s, when people, municipalities (including the federal government) and corporations pulled billions of dollars out of that country rather than make money off of a government that supported slavery.