Last night, friends invited us to attend a meeting of the San Antonio Interfaith Darfur Coalition, a group working to bring attention to the horrific situation in the Darfur region of western Sudan in north central Africa.
The speaker was Ruth Messinger, president of the American Jewish World Service, who was introduced by a local rabbi as one of the primary two people (along with columnist Nick Kristof of the New York Times) bringing attention to Darfur in the U.S. Messinger spoke of the genocidal situation, but also about what we can and must do now to help. And that is "divestment"--ensuring that none of our money goes to support the murderous regime in Khartoum.
Here is an excerpt from a Fort Worth Star-Telegram editorial on February 14 describing the divestment campaign in the Texas legislature:
For state Reps. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, and Phil King, R-Weatherford, to collaborate on a bill in the Texas Legislature, it must be a worthy issue. The continuing genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan meets the criteria.
Bipartisan bills -- SB247/HB667 -- call for the targeted divestment of Texas pension funds in companies that do business with the Sudanese government. If the leaders of the North African nation won't listen to reason, perhaps they'll respond to pressure from those who wish to do business with them.
Given that world opinion doesn't seem to matter [to the Sudanese government], the Sudan Divestment Task Force, a project of the Genocide Intervention Network, came up with a different idea: Hit the intransigent leaders in the place that hurts all politicians -- the wallet.
Sens. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, and Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, wrote the bill in the Texas Senate. Rep. Corbin Van Arsdale, R-Houston, worked up the House bill with four joint authors.
Similar legislation has been adopted in six states. Efforts are under way to pass it in 20 others.
For more information on the San Antonio Interfaith Darfur Coalition, see their new blog at saidc.blogspot.com. For more information of the divestment campaign, wherever you may be, see sudandivestment.org.