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"Disinvest from Sudan"

Hearing about the genocide in Darfur has always made me despair. What with the UN hidebound and toothless, the EU unwilling to even use the G-word and the US and its most powerful allies having their hands full in Iraq (would that they had spared their guns for Sudan, a continuing hotspot of islamic fundamentalism, religous/ethnic warfare and ethnic cleansing whose leadership is thick as thieves with Osama Bin Laden), it really looks like the world is just going to let the killing happen. Johann Hari, looking at corporate complicity in the genocide, argues that there is at least one thing that citizens and organisations can do: force the corporations that provide Sudan with the means to kill its people to divest from Sudan. This may seem over-optimistic, but he notes that it has worked before:

...the only group that has effectively lobbied against the genocidal regime in Khartoum has been the red-state Christian evangelicals in the US. They lobbied hard for an oil embargo against Sudan, so US dollars were not used to slaughter their fellow Christians. Uber-moralistic religion clashed with raw amoral markets, and - incredibly - the Bush administration sided with the evangelicals against the oil companies. As a result, since 2000, no US oil company has been allowed to operate within Sudan, to their fury. Peace [in that area, at least —RD] has finally prevailed. This shows what can happen when the Sudanese government is subject to serious economic penalties for its crimes.

The US is lobbying hard for the UN to impose similar international oil sanctions to stop the genocide in Darfur. (The evangelicals are much less worried about slaughtered Muslims, but they believe the chaos might spill over into the south). This is being flatly opposed by China - which receives a quarter of its oil supplies from Sudan - and Russia. These two authoritarian governments are vandalising any attempt to deal with this genocide through the United Nations.

It seems nobody is prepared to choke off the corporate fuel for the holocaust in Darfur....So what do we do - lie back and watch the first genocide of the 21st century scythe through Darfur unhindered?

There is an alternative. Professor Eric Reeves is an expert on the murder of black Darfurians. He explains: "The only way to stop this genocide now is for a mass campaign to force multinationals to disinvest from Sudan. During the apartheid era in South Africa, the divestment movement was an immensely powerful force in breaking down this system of racial discrimination. We can do the same today."

Through our pensions plans, our universities and our stock portfolios, we in Europe own most of the companies providing the hard cash for this genocide. If our governments fail to act to end genocide, the responsibility falls to us. Go to www.divestsudan.org to find out how, practically, we can act to deprive the Janjaweed militias of money and arms, just as we throttled apartheid.

The downside to this approach is that, as people remember from the end days of Apartheid, it takes a long time, during which the killing will continue. But if there's no hope of defeating the Sudanese dictatorship through military means or official sanctions, it's up to ordinary citizens to do what we can.

Comments (1)


I think this can become an effective way to stop or mitigate the genocide. I will get my Human Rights club at school involved in this calling for the disinvestment of Sudan


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