Skip to comments.Activists Urge Sudan Divestment ("Terrorism Investments of the 50 States")
Posted on 03/04/2006 7:47:18 PM PST by fight_truth_decay
WATERVILLE -- Mainers should push the Maine State Retirement System to divest $50 million of its investments in international companies operating in war-torn Sudan, a group of activists said Friday.
A bill currently in the Statehouse to force the divestment, L.D. 1758, hangs in the balance, said Wells Staley-Mays, an adviser to the Fur Cultural Revival. He was speaking at a Colby College event alongside three Sudanese refugees.
"Fur" refers to a major non-Arab tribe in the Sudanese region of Darfur -- an area the size of Texas, whose name literally means "home of the Furs" -- now threatened with extinction in the decades-long Sudanese conflict.
"The investment amounts to only half of 1 percent of the entire state retirement fund," Staley-Mays said.
The divestment issue is Maine's direct link to a genocidal war carried out against non-Arab Sudanese by the Janjaweed militia, widely believed to be funded and armed by the Arab-dominated Khartoum regime. Khartoum is Sudan's capital.
Winning independence in 1956 from the British, Sudan has since continually been gripped by civil war. While not every member of its ethnic groups can be broadbrushed in the conflict, activists say the fault lines largely split along the 20-percent Arab minority in Khartoum seeking domination over an 80-percent African majority.
Darfur erupted into public consciousness notably in 2003, when indigenous non-Arabs, including the Fur, rebelled after a Khartoum-instigated campaign of terror that had already left hundreds of thousands of Darfurese homeless or dead.
"They try to destroy our dignity, rape our women, our sisters, shoot the men with lizard guns, burning our villages, slaughter our children with knives," said Mansour Ahmed, chairman of the Fur Cultural Revival. The three Fur at Colby now live in Portland, part of the largest community of Darfurese refugees in any U.S. city.
"Most Darfurese are Muslims," Izzeldin Abdllah said. "We believed that if we were Muslims, they won't attack us. But now, the reality is we've found out what they're looking for."
In Darfur, rape is a weapon of choice. Oil money arms the militia. Fertile Darfurese land is the prize.
But Darfur is only one strand in Sudan's story.
Part of the hesitation of international agencies to intervene stems from a fear of upsetting a fragile peace there, forged in 2005, between the Muslim north and the Christian south. But another part is simply an international reluctance to commit a forceful humanitarian response, the activists argued.
U.S. companies sell arms not to Sudan, but to neighboring Egypt and Saudi Arabia, whose governments have large stakes in propping up the Khartoum regime. Indirectly, U.S. arms dealers end up arming every side of the conflict, Staley-Mays said.
More than 400,000 Darfurese have died in the conflict by now, the activists said. Another 100,000 a month would succumb if relief agencies are forced out, they said.
"We really need international support to make more pressure," Ahmed said. "Nobody has done more than the U.S., but Darfur is in need of you and we need your help."
Follow the money.
A confluence of Chinese, Russian and French conglomerates plumb Sudanese oil, including China's Petrochem, Russia's Tatneft, and France's and Belgium's Alcatel, Staley-Mays said. Because these countries hold veto powers in the U.N. Security Council, their governments block attempts to mount a large-scale divestment campaign, Staley-Mays said.
Many U.S. state retirement funds invest in companies that operate in Sudan. Maine's State Retirement System has $50 million in 18 such businesses, according to Staley-Mays and information from divestsudan.org, a coalition led by Professor Eric Reeves of Smith College, a leading activist.
But seven states have taken the lead. The legislatures in Illinois, Oregon, New Jersey, Louisiana, Arizona and Delaware have forced such divestment; California also did, but did not need legislative action to do so, Staley-Mays said.
In Maine, the bill to force similar action passed the committee level at the Statehouse two weeks ago, Staley-Mays said.
It is now scheduled to enter the legislature, but may face problems.
Staley-Mays said that while the Maine State Retirement System neither supports nor opposes the bill, its officials have apparently questioned whether divestment is an appropriate policy.
A comment from the system's officials could not be obtained at press time Friday.
"The U.S. has a great power to protect our people," Ahmed said. "Only you have the power."
Chuin-Wei Yap -- 861-9253
In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in June 2004, a field researcher with Human Rights Watch stated that the Sudanese army was openly recruiting horse-owning Arab men, promising them a gun and a monthly salary of $116 in exchange for joining a Janjaweed cohort. The International Crisis Group says that money that gets paid to the Janjaweed "comes directly from booty captured in raids on villages," giving them an additional incentive to act with extreme brutality. It is reported that those who've interviewed refugees from Darfur also allege that Janjaweed commanders are using racism as a rallying point, encouraging their charges to rape the dark-skinned villagers they encounter during their raids.
Years ago Nat Hentoff pointed out some of the more chilling atrocities carried out by the Muslim janjaweed against families in the south. He detailed forced marches in which moms had to watch as their infants were spiked onto trees. Horrendous. But when it was the Muslims against the Christian blacks, no one cared much. Now that Muslims are also victims, people are getting into gear. Confusing.
It'd not be surprising at all to find potential buyers behind these ideas.
Frankly, I've never seen the moral high ground that gives a price break in an engineered firesale to less principled foreigners.
Economic instability always does wonders for the peace process.
Actually seemed to work really well at ending Apartheid, and communism in the former Soviet Bloc. Your thoughts?
As far as apartheid is concerned, the Brit component of the population "blinked", as usual. The Afrikaaners are still trying to turn back the clock. Given the very high incidence of AIDS among the black African populations in that part of the world, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Afrikaaners take the opportunity at some point to retake their country.
Disinvestment had no real long-term impact.
Right. But the West didn't trade with them, either. That's the biggest component of why they went down; that, and the fact that Communism like Islamofascism is a doomed ideology as long as we quit giving in to it.
Subversion/economic pressure really works best when you've got a dissatisfied general populace. Most people only change ideology when they're really unhappy about the way things are going.
"Disinvestment had no real long-term impact."
Disagree. The black population can now vote and hold office. That they may not be doing well with that ATM is not the big picture, IMO. It'll take generations for that kind of thing to heal.
Disinvestment had no real long-term impact.
So then, by your reasoning, the end of slavery in America had no long-term impact because blacks in America have a generally lower income, and higher rate of AIDS infection than whites?
Increased trade WITH the East helped foster change.
Did you make a comment or something?
"Unilateral economic sanctions have been a growth industry in Washington, D.C., since the end of the Cold War. In 1995 alone, they cost the U.S. economy at least $15 billion in lost exports, around 200,000 lost jobs in export industries, and $1 billion in lost wages. They have caused few foreign governments to change their objectionable policies, however."
"Faced with this record of high costs and few successes, U.S. policymakers need to rethink their use of economic sanctions. Economic sanctions can be important strategic weapons in the policy arsenal; but like other strategic weapons, these sanctionswhether multilateral or unilateralmust be used with great care. Congress and the President need to develop a new strategic doctrine for the use of economic sanctions, both to maximize their effectiveness and to minimize friendly-fire casualties."
Now, I realize these State "divestments" in this scenario before mentioned is not a fully defined economic sanction;, but in reality it effects the economics of the American workforce (white and blue collar alike)and the shareholders. The latter controls the purse strings. Russia, France and Belgium have financial interests in the Sudan as they did in Iraq. Therefore, the humanitarian watchdog , the UN will be as irrelevant as usual and turn a blind eye toward atrocities of (black)rape, murder, torture, child imprisonment, specifically "baby torture" in the reports linked above. Where is the constant outrage by the Sharptons, Jacksons, Lee's and other self-chosen Black leaders that constantly compare Bush to Hitler or a Nazi and place welcomed media emphasis on they are still living on the "plantation?"
The Heritage Report cited South Africa is often used as an example of a successful application of economic sanctions; but they were imposed multilaterally by ALL the international community, not solely by the United States. Pretoria (Reagan caved to the Left and placed sanctions on the White government of South Africa, even though Pretoria at the time was an ally of the U.S. in the "Cold War," quite anti-Soviet) succumbed to the pressure only after private business executivesfearing the Free South Africa Movement's disinvestment campaign would cause the price of company stocks to fallwent beyond government-mandated sanctions and called in current loans and liquidated investments in that country.
Thanks for pointing that out, as I had forgotten about China's interests along with France, Russia and Belgium.
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